NEW YORK (AP) -Eric Gagne came off the disabled list Tuesday and immediately returned to his role as the Texas Rangers' closer.
``He knows how to close a ballgame down,'' manager Ron Washington said before his team played the New York Yankees. ``So, even though he may have been in and out, he has knowledge. You can't teach that. He knows what he's doing. It's not like this is some young kid we're breaking in.''
Akinori Otsuka, who has four saves and a 1.54 ERA, will go back to his job as setup man. To make room on the roster for Gagne, the Rangers optioned right-hander Wes Littleton to Triple-A Oklahoma.
Gagne went on the disabled list April 23 with a strained right hip. He had one save in 3 1-3 scoreless innings spanning four appearances this season. He also began the year on the DL before he was activated April 13.
``Hopefully, this is the last one, because he was ready after about five days and we kept him out for 15. He should be stronger,'' Washington said.
The 2003 NL Cy Young Award winner with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Gagne missed nearly all of the past two seasons with elbow and back injuries. The right-hander agreed to a $6 million, one-year contract with Texas in the offseason, a deal loaded with potential performance bonuses.
Washington watched Gagne throw a pair of simulated games while he was sidelined.
``I watched him throw his stuff, and it was good,'' the rookie manager said. ``He actually looked stronger. He actually looked like a monster on the mound.''
Gagne converted a major league-record 84 consecutive save chances with the Dodgers from 2002-04.

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