ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -Eric Gagne is flattered to hear his name repeatedly mentioned in trade rumors. That confirms he is starting to pitch like his old self again.
Still, the closer doesn't want his comeback with the Texas Rangers to be short-lived.
``I want to stay here, but it's good to see that people really want me on their team,'' Gagne said. ``Especially after two years, it's very frustrating and I really got down on myself. You don't know if you're going to come back to be able to be successful.''
Other teams are interested now because the 2003 NL Cy Young Award winner has made an impressive comeback from two elbow operations and back surgery that limited him to 15 1-3 innings the past two seasons for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Going into Friday night's game against Cleveland, Gagne had converted 14 of 15 save chances with a 1.23 ERA in 30 appearances. The 31-year-old right-hander has pitched on consecutive days and gone more than one inning in a game, more proof that he is healthy.
``What it goes to show you is the truly, truly special players, even through injuries or down times, when they come back, they find ways to adjust,'' general manager Jon Daniels said.
When the Dodgers declined Gagne's $12 million option for 2007 last winter, few teams seriously considered the hard-throwing closer who, from 2002-04, set a major league record by converting 84 consecutive saves.
But the Rangers offered a $6 million deal that gave Gagne a chance to earn up to $5 million in performance bonuses. Now they are getting offers from teams seeking bullpen help before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Daniels insists he's not shopping Gagne, but will listen to offers for the closer and other players.
``If something makes sense for us, we will make a deal,'' Daniels said.
The trade prospects for reliever Akinori Otsuka lessened when he was put on the disabled list Thursday with inflammation in his right forearm.
First baseman Mark Teixeira, eligible for salary arbitration after this season and free agency after 2008, could be dealt and veterans Kenny Lofton and Sammy Sosa are signed only through this season.
``It's difficult to think about any of the names,'' Daniels said. ``They're valuable and there is a reason they are being asked about.''
Daniels hasn't ruled out signing Gagne to a new deal, but would not elaborate on that possibility.
Gagne has a limited no-trade clause, but there are 12 teams that he can be traded to without his consent.
``I can control a little bit of it, but not really everything,'' he said. ``It's just good to hear your name because you know people want you.''
The Rangers put Gagne on the disabled list to start the season even though he didn't have any medical setbacks this spring. They wanted him to have more time to get ready, even though he preferred to pitch right away.
``There's not one day that I felt like I was rushed. I felt like I was held back a lot more than I thought I wanted to,'' Gagne said. ``But they're the reason why I'm on the mound right now healthy, because they gave me time to make sure.''
His only setback wasn't related to his three operations since 2004. Gagne went on the DL with a sore right hip after his fourth appearance, but missed only the 15 days.
While not throwing 97-98 mph like when he was with the Dodgers, Gagne has been effective with a fastball in the low 90s, a good changeup and breaking pitches.
``His stuff is good. Not quite where it was two or three years ago, but I don't think there's any question that he has enough stuff to be an elite closer, and he's showing it,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Gagne needed six pitches to get three outs against the Angles on July 4. He blew his only save chance two days later against Baltimore, but won that game and has allowed just one hit in his other five July appearances.
``To be able to be on the mound, not thinking about my body, just thinking about getting people out, that's priceless,'' Gagne said. ``That's really unbelievable because what I went through the last two years. I didn't even know if I was going to be able to play sports again.''
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