ARLINGTON -- Indians manager Eric Wedge didn't mind that many of his players spent a couple of hours before Thursday's game watching the governor of California and former governor of Minnesota on the big-screen television in the visitors' clubhouse. Mind you, it was no high-minded political debate that had captured the players' rapt attention. It was seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura shoot and grunt their way through the classic 1987 sci-fi thriller Predator. But for Wedge, that meant one less day his players might be distracted by the growing drumbeat of transaction rumors as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. "This time of year, there's so many rumors, so much speculation about what's going to happen, and these guys are always reading it and hearing it and watching it," Wedge said. "I wish they wouldn't read, hear or see anything, because about 90 percent of what you do hear is usually unfounded."
The Indians are known to be seeking bullpen help and should get an up-close look at several trade candidates from the Rangers' staff this weekend in Texas. But Wedge admitted that contending teams are particularly ripe for distraction in the coming days, as players worry over their futures or wonder what moves their general managers will pull off to keep pace with rivals. "You can't fight that," Wedge said. "The only thing you can do is hope they focus each night on what they can do to help the team win. But if it ever gets to the point that it's extreme enough to have to address it, then I will." Gutierrez sidelined: Hot-hitting outfielder Franklin Gutierrez was scratched from the starting lineup shortly before the series opener in Texas because of back stiffness. Gutierrez, who had hit safely in 15 of his last 17 games (.414 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in that stretch), was replaced by rookie Ben Francisco. Wedge said Gutierrez's condition was not cause for alarm and that his absence should be brief. "I don't think it's much [to be concerned with]," Wedge said. "It's probably just a combination of playing, flying [and] sleeping in a different bed. We'll probably get him back in there [on Friday]." Garko on fire: First baseman Ryan Garko brought a career-high hitting streak of 12 consecutive games into Thursday's series opener. Garko was 20-for-42 (.476) with three home runs and nine RBIs in that span, and was hitting .409 (27 for 66) over his last 20 games. "I'm just trying to put up quality at-bats," Garko said. "I'm trying to do the same thing, day in and day out. I'm smart enough to know that some of it is luck. I hit a lot of balls hard in June, too, but they were right at people. Now, they're falling in. "You just want to make sure your hot streaks last as long as possible and that your cold streaks end as quickly as possible. It's not as easy as it sounds." Here's the question: Former Indians center fielder Kenny Lofton entered this series with 20 stolen bases in the Rangers' first 94 games, a pace to finish the season with 34 steals at age 40. Can you name the only two players who stole more than 34 bases in the seasons in which they turned 40? Down on the farm: Triple-A Buffalo designated hitter Jason Cooper was 2-for-5 with a run scored in the Bisons' 3-2, 12-inning loss to Charlotte on Wednesday. ... Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera of Double-A Akron slammed a three-run, walkoff home run to beat Harrisburg, 9-7, and avert a three-game sweep. ... Class A Kinston took a doubleheader from Potomac, 12-2 and 4-2, with shortstop Josh Rodriguez going 5-for-8 in the two games. ... At Class A Lake County, left fielder Nicholas Weglarz has hit safely in 29 of his last 34 games. Tribe tidbits: Lefty Aaron Fultz (strained rib cage muscle) was expected to throw a bullpen session by the weekend, but instead remained in Cleveland after experiencing what Wedge termed "extended soreness" since his last throwing session a week earlier. ... The Rangers will be without All-Star shortstop Michael Young for the first two games of this series. Young is in Southern California to attend the funeral of his wife's grandmother. ... Cleveland entered Thursday leading the Majors in fewest walks allowed (245 in 94 games). San Diego's staff was next, having walked 248 in 93 games. And the answer is: Davey Lopes stole 47 bases for the 1985 Chicago Cubs at age 40, and Rickey Henderson swiped 37 for the 1999 New York Mets at the same age. Up next: Indians righty Fausto Carmona (11-4, 3.77 ERA) is scheduled to face Texas right-hander Brandon McCarthy (4-6, 5.59 ERA) in the second game of this four-game series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. First pitch is scheduled for 8:35 p.m. ET.
Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.