Washington: Oswalt issue in past

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington insisted Monday he’s put behind him Roy Oswalt’s decision not to pitch a third inning of relief and sees no need to discuss it with the former starter.

Assistant general manager Thad Levine added Oswalt is ”playing a very valuable role” coming out of the bullpen, throwing four scoreless innings in two appearances.

Oswalt told Washington after throwing 30 pitches in the seventh and eighth innings on Sunday that he couldn’t continue. The AL West leaders lost 7-6 in 10 innings at Kansas City. The right-hander declined to comment before Monday night’s opener of a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox.

”Since I’ve been here (if) a player tells me he can’t go, that’s it,” Washington said before the game. ”It ends right there and, for me, it ended right there.”

Oswalt had a 6.49 ERA in six starts then went to the bullpen when Texas acquired Ryan Dempster from the Chicago Cubs last Tuesday. Oswalt had thrown 150 pitches in seven days when he told Washington he couldn’t pitch.

Since reaching the majors in 2001 with Houston, Oswalt has started 326 of his 339 games. His record was 159-93 with a 3.21 ERA before he signed a minor league contract as a free agent with Texas on May 29. In his first start with the Rangers, he allowed one earned run in 6 2/3 innings against Colorado on June 22, bit his performances as a starter declined since then.

Washington said that on Sunday, ”we asked him if he could go back out. He said he was through so I went to Robbie Ross. I think managers do that all the time. I’m no different.”

Asked if the club was upset that Oswalt wouldn’t continue, Levine said, ”I think the thought process was that if the game went deep we would have liked him to have eaten a few more innings there. But what he was capable of delivering and what we got from the guys who came behind him, I think we felt we had enough to win the game.”

He said Oswalt wants to start and that the assumption when he was acquired was that he would do that.

”Right now he’s pitching very well out of the bullpen. We always listen to requests made by players but,” Levine said, ”the priority is what the team needs at the time and right now he’s serving a very valuable role.

”We’re in the midst of a pennant race unlike any that we’ve seen in the last two years where we feel as if every game counts,” he said. ”So it’s our job to work with the coaching staff to try to put the best staff together we can to try to win this division.”

The Rangers began the night in first place in the AL West with a 63-44 record, 5 1/2 games ahead of the Oakland Athletics and six in front of the Los Angeles Angels.

Levine was noncommittal when asked if Oswalt had requested a trade.

”We’ve had internal discussions with him and he’s handled himself professionally in those conversations,” Levine said, ”but the exact nature of those I think we should keep in house at this time. . . . He’s a productive member of the 12-man staff. We don’t expect that to change.”