CHICAGO -- Rangers bullpen coach Andy Hawkins was hunched over his iPad in the clubhouse on Thursday morning, trying to get all the information he could on the fertilizer plant explosion that rocked the town of West, Texas, on Wednesday night.
Hawkins was born in Waco -- just south of West -- and he owns a ranch in Bruceville, which is also in the central Texas area.
"It's just a terrible tragedy ... that place is like 20 minutes away from my ranch," Hawkins said. "I've used that kind of fertilizer, I've sprayed it before on my ranch and there's a place just like that plant near us. It could have happened to us. I know a lot of people are hurt, but people are going to come from all over the place to help."
The northern McLennan County town is known for its Czechoslovakian heritage and the bakeries along I-35 that sell Kolaches and other Czech delicacies.
"I know a lot of people who stop there," Hawkins said. "I know I stop there almost every time I go from Dallas to home. I stop for the Kolaches. I know it's a great place."
Outfielder Lance Berkman is from that area as well. He was born in Waco, grew up in Austin and went to high school in New Braunfels, all along the same I-35 corridor as West.
"It's a tragedy," Berkman said. "You don't like to see anything like that ever happen. It's just a disaster."
Rangers set up relief efforts for West victims
CHICAGO -- The Rangers have set up several relief efforts to aid the victims of the devastating explosion and fires that took place in West, Texas, on Wednesday.
During this weekend's series with the Mariners at the Ballpark in Arlington, fans may donate essential items for the victims and residents of West. Items will be collected outside the ballpark gates from two hours before the game until 30 minutes after first pitch.
The following items are most requested: diapers/wipes, new underwear, blankets, water bottles, gift cards for grocery stores or home supply stores, toiletries, sports drinks or powdered sports drinks, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, non-perishable food items, clothing of all sizes, bedding, dog and cat food. Cash donations will also be accepted and will be directed to relief efforts.
Game times for the Rangers-Mariners series are Friday and Saturday at 7:05 p.m. CT and Sunday at 2:05 p.m. The items will be delivered to the citizens of West next week.
In addition, the Rangers will team up with the Carter BloodCare to hold a Blood Drive on Sunday. The Blood Drive will take place from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame. Fans can enter the Blood Drive through the Hall of Fame entrance located on the concourse behind the Lower Home Run Porch.
Rangers forgo usual tarp slide due to cold
CHICAGO -- The Rangers' game against the Cubs was rained out on Wednesday night, but the players didn't celebrate with the customary group tarp slide.
"Too cold," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "You can't do it here, it's too freezing. I was staying away from the dugout as far as possible. When it's cold, I'm going to be the last one on the field."
The tarp slide first got started in 2008. Outfielder Milton Bradley may have originated the idea after a rainout in Shea Stadium. Since then, Rangers players -- after waiting out the delay -- have celebrated the official news of a rainout by dashing from the clubhouse and sliding headfirst across the soaked tarpaulin covering the infield. Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and Josh Hamilton were among those who were regulars in the tarp slide. Now two of them are gone.
"I don't think anybody was really feeling it," Kinsler said. "It's more fun doing it in your uniform when you're all dressed up and ready for the game. When you've been sitting around in shorts and T-shirts, it's not as fun."
Rangers to miss Wilson during Angels series
CHICAGO -- The Angels' game with the Twins on Wednesday was rained out, and it assures the Rangers won't face former Texas hurler C.J. Wilson during their three-game series that starts Monday in Anaheim.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia pushed his pitching back so that Tommy Hanson, Garrett Richards and Wilson will pitch against the Tigers this weekend in Anaheim. The Rangers are lined up to face Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas and Hanson during the series.
The Rangers also missed Wilson during the three-game series against the Angels earlier this month. Wilson made five starts against the Rangers last season and was 0-2 with a 7.65 ERA. The Angels were 2-3 against the Rangers with Wilson on the mound.
• Infielder Joey Gallo hit two more home runs for Class A Hickory on Wednesday night, giving him three in his last three games and six on the season. He is one of four Minor League players with six home runs.
• Third baseman Adrian Beltre has 348 career home runs. He is trying to become the 87th player in Major League history to hit 350 home runs, but only seven of them have been third basemen: Mike Schmidt (548), Eddie Matthews (512), Chipper Jones (468), Darrell Evans (414), Graig Nettles (390), Matt Williams (378) and Gary Gaetti (360).
• Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish, who is scheduled to pitch on Friday, was trying to fly back to Texas on Thursday but was running into weather delays and traffic problems trying to get to O'Hare Airport. Widespread flooding made travel through Chicago difficult on Thursday.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.