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Report: The Rays Have an Interest in Hank Blalock

Just as it seems Pat Burrell is in the clear for the 2010 designated hitter role, Jon Heyman tweets:

@SI_JonHeyman  #marlins, #raysthought to have interest in hank blalock

 Blalock is a 29-year-old slugging corner infielder  who has been with the Rangers since 2002. Blalock belted 29 home runs in 2009 splitting time between first base and serving as the designated hitter. For his career,  Blalock has posted a slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) of .269/.277/.459. Blalock doesn't come without a few warning signs. His plate discipline has been a mess the past few years with his in-zone and out-of zone swings going in opposite directions. In 2009, he posted his second season swinging at north of 30% of pitches outside the zone (O-Swing%). Not surprisingly his walk percentage dropped to a  career low 5.3%. In the past he played third base where his career UZR/150 innings is -2.6. In a sample of less than 1000 innings at first base, Blalock measures -2.7.

Blalock also presents a myriad of injury concerns. In 2007 Blalock was diagnosed with Thoracic outlet syndrome which according to the medical journal Wikipedia is:

Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) consists of a group of distinct disorders involving compression at the superior thoracic outlet[1] that affect the brachial plexus (nerves that pass into the arms from the neck), and/or the subclavian artery and vein (blood vessels that pass between the chest and upper extremity).

This condition was a big factor in the Rangers moving Blalock over to first base. Hamstring issues also caused Blalock to miss some time in 2009.

The good news is that he can be an effective platoon option. His career OPS against right-handed pitching is .846 versus just .657 against lefties. His poor discipline precludes him from being an optimal everyday first-baseman but a platoon with Willy Aybar down the road could work at the right price. In the meantime he could potentially be another relatively cheap option for Pat Burrell insurance.