Roy Oswalt clears waivers

Texas Rangers pitcher Roy Oswalt said he was surprised word of him clearing waivers became big news Tuesday. He said he's known about it for weeks.

A league source confirmed Tuesday that Oswalt cleared waivers three weeks ago, which means the veteran right-hander can be traded to any team and the Rangers have been free to entertain trade proposals since that time.

However, it does not necessarily mean the Rangers will deal Oswalt, 35. The deadline for players to be traded and still be eligible for the postseason is Friday.

Oswalt acknowledged that being removed from the starting rotation and absorbing criticism for what has been perceived as poor body language -- particularly in two recent starts, when manager Ron Washington removed him in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively -- has been a difficult process.

However, Oswalt, who owns a career 3.27 ERA, said his actions often have been misconstrued and that if the Rangers hold onto him, he hopes to make the playoff roster and contribute to the club's goal of a third consecutive World Series appearance and the franchise's first championship -- no matter his role.

"There's been a lot of opinions out there on different things; not really correct, but you've just kind of got to roll with it and let people take whatever kind of angle they want to at you because you can't really protect yourself as a player," Oswalt said. "It doesn't really matter what you say, it's what other people think about you.

"You try to be as professional as you can, and sometimes your emotion will get the best of you here and there. . . . At the end of the year, I didn't come over here to lose. I came over here to win and help the team as much as possible."

A few reports have suggested that the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox could be in need of pitching depth. Oswalt would be owed about $1 million in base salary for the rest of the season, though his contract does include some incentives.

This is the time of year when teams put plenty of players through waivers to see whether they clear and open a path to be traded anywhere. If players are claimed, teams can pull them back or work out a deal with the club that claimed them.

The Rangers could decide to hang on to Oswalt as insurance for their own starting pitching staff. Scott Feldman has lost four straight outings and has a 6.17 ERA in that span. And though Oswalt has been inconsistent, he could provide some experience as a long reliever or spot starter down the stretch.

Texas could poke around the next few days and see whether there's a utility infielder on the market who makes sense. The Rangers still would like a right-handed bat for the bench, but aren't likely to deal for one unless they feel it would make a real impact.

As much as Oswalt would like to jump back into the rotation, he said it would be unfair to Feldman to remove him. He said Feldman should get the ball for the remainder of the season.

"He's thrown some good games, too," Oswalt said. "I don't think just because he had a couple of bad ones he should be out of the rotation. I think sometimes you've got to give a guy the benefit of the doubt. What if he comes back and throws six more shutouts? You can't go through a season looking over your shoulder as a starter, so I think he should get the ball the rest of the year."

Oswalt agreed to terms with the Rangers at the end of May and made his first start June 27. He struggled in five starts, going 2-2 with a 6.49 ERA before being moved to the bullpen when the Rangers acquired Ryan Dempster at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Oswalt made three relief appearances in early August, but his past two outings have been spot starts. He gave up one run on two hits in 4 2/3 innings and was pulled one out shy of qualifying for a win in Toronto. The Rangers hung on for the victory, but Oswalt did not appear thrilled walking off the mound or sitting in the dugout.

Oswalt allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings in Thursday's win against Minnesota, his last appearance to date. He was asked about his body language after that start, and he said he was "disgusted" with himself for not getting key outs in the sixth inning.