POSITION CHANGE: Hank Blalock will move to first base for the Texas Rangers when he returns from the disabled list.

Blalock, a third baseman who has been out since April 26 with a torn left hamstring, volunteered to make the switch Friday, and the move was announced before Sunday's game against Houston.

"It's his decision," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He said he had looked at the team and thought he could help the squad more at first. This is Hank just being a very intelligent baseball man,"

Blalock has played 686 career games at third base and none at first. Washington was giving Blalock some pointers during infield practice Sunday.

The Rangers are sending Blalock to extended spring training in Arizona on Monday. Washington said Blalock will probably stay in Arizona until he comes off the disabled list — which may be as early as Friday.

"It's a new position for me, and I'm not sure how I'll do," Blalock said. "I wouldn't have initiated it if it wasn't something I was excited about."

Texas signed Ben Broussard in the offseason to play first. The Rangers placed Broussard on waivers Friday after he hit .159 in 26 games.

Chris Shelton and Frank Catalanotto have shared first for most of May, and Ramon Vazquez is hitting .338 with two home runs and seven RBIs as Blalock's main replacement at third.

"It's a change in my profession," said Blalock, who is hitting .299 with three home runs and seven RBIs. "I look at it as a challenge. If I can do a good job, it can help the team. I don't know how long it will take to be comfortable there. It makes me feel good that I can completely commit to that position."

PEAVY TO MISS START: San Diego ace Jake Peavy will miss his scheduled start Monday night against St. Louis with soreness in his pitching elbow. Instead of preparing to face the Cardinals, the reigning Cy Young winner will visit with Padres' team physicians Monday morning, trying to determine the root of the discomfort Peavy has experienced in his elbow during his last three or four starts. "It's not like a normal soreness. That's obviously the reason we're missing the start is because it's not normal," Peavy said before Sunday's interleague series finale in Seattle. Peavy has lost three of his last four decisions.

OSWALT DAY-TO-DAY: Houston manager Cecil Cooper said there was miscommunication about sending Astros ace Roy Oswalt to pitch the seventh inning — which is when he left the game Saturday night with a hip injury against Texas. Oswalt said after Saturday's game he told coaches after the sixth that he didn't think he could pitch any longer, but he was sent out in the seventh anyway. The Astros ace reiterated those comments before Sunday's game against the Rangers. Cooper said he planned to meet with Oswalt. "It's a misunderstanding," Cooper said. "We just want to make sure we're all on the right page."

RED SOX CALL UP SMITH: The Boston Red Sox purchased the contract of right-hander Chris Smith from Triple-A Pawtucket and optioned outfielder Jonathan Van Every back before Sunday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Smith, 27, who was 1-2 with a 1.45 ERA in 10 games with Pawtucket, is on a major league team for the first time in his career. Van Every, called up on Wednesday for added outfield depth after right fielder J.D. Drew and center fielder Coco Crisp had to leave Tuesday's game early, got his first major league hit with a single in three at-bats against the Baltimore Orioles.

CUBS PLACE WARD ON DL: Cubs pinch-hitter Daryle Ward was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a bulging disc in his back Sunday, and Chicago selected the contract of Micah Hoffpauir from Triple-A Iowa. Ward is 5-for-25 with one home run and six RBIs. He has been out since Tuesday with back problems. In nine games with Iowa, Hoffpauir was 11-for-34 with three home runs and 12 RBIs. He missed 32 games with a strained oblique.

A-ROD ON TARGET TO RETURN: Alex Rodriguez remains on target to rejoin the New York Yankees on Tuesday. The third baseman, out since April 28 with a strained right quadriceps, hit a grand slam to center field during his 15 at-bats in a simulated game Sunday. He is scheduled to play in an extended spring training game Monday against Philadelphia minor leaguers before returning to New York. "It's the best I've felt since the injury," Rodriguez said. A-Rod faced four different Yankees minor league pitchers, getting credit for five hits in his 15 at-bats.