The Texas Rangers do and don't want Jason Botts to be another Travis Hafner. They do want the RedHawks' slugger to be the player Hafner has become — one of baseball's best and biggest power hitters. They don't want to make the same mistake with Botts they made with Hafner five winters ago. In maybe the worst trade in Rangers' history, they sent Hafner and Aaron Myette to Cleveland for Einar Diaz and Ryan Drese. Of those players, only Hafner is in the major leagues today. And he's going for his fourth straight 100-RBI season. The Rangers want Botts to be as good, but not as gone, as Hafner. "I think that's what's going to happen,” RedHawks manager Bobby Jones said. "They're going to eventually call him up to see what they've got, to see him play, to see if they've got a Hafner on their hands.” Botts, who turns 27 this month, stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 250 pounds. Hafner, 30, is 6-3, 240. In Botts' third Pacific Coast League season his numbers are remarkably similar to Hafner's stats here five years ago: •Slugging percentage: Botts .563, Hafner .559. •On-base percentage: Botts .439, Hafner .463. •Batting average: Botts .324, Hafner .342. •Doubles: Botts 34, Hafner 22. •RBIs: Botts 74, Hafner 77. •Home runs: Botts 13, Hafner 21. "Hafner's someone I've been compared to a lot, especially over the last two or three years. I guess I'll see,” said Botts, the PCL leader in on-base percentage. "He does things a lot better than me, but at the same time I'm getting to the point where I feel there's a very good comparison as far as average and driving the ball and taking walks.” With the trading deadline 15 days away, the Rangers are trying to deal veteran outfielders Sammy Sosa and Kenny Lofton. If designated hitter Sosa is moved, a roster spot would be opened for Botts. If only center fielder Lofton is moved, Texas might call up a better defensive outfielder ahead of Botts, who has been the DH in 43 of his 92 RedHawks games. But have the Rangers noticed what Botts has done since April, when he was changing his batting approach and hitting only .200? Since then, he's hit .369 with 60 RBIs and 44 extra-base hits in 69 games. "I'm sure they notice. I'm always hearing good things because people have passed messages on from up top,” Botts said. "I know that they really want to give me an opportunity.” Neither Botts nor Texas wants a repeat of his call-ups the past two years. He spent 10 weeks with the Rangers, but had only 77 at-bats. "They have told me they don't want me to go up there and only play every three or four days,” Botts said. "I'm very grateful to go up there. It was a great experience. But at the same time I don't really want to do that again. "I'd much rather be here playing every day and continuing to learn and work. I feel like I'm a major league hitter, but I want that everyday opportunity. I just need to stay patient and wait for it.” Jones said: "They're not going to just call him up just to sit. They want to see what he's got. And right now there's no way he fits in the mix. By the trading deadline, if they make a move and open a spot up, he's going to get his shot.”
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RedHawks slugger Jason Botts is hitting .369 with 60 RBIs and 44 extra-base hits in his past 69 games. By BRYAN TERRY, the oklahoman