ARLINGTON, Texas, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- John Rocker's tumultuous six-month stay with the Cleveland Indians ended Tuesday when the Texas Rangers acquired the controversial lefthanded reliever for minor league pitcher David Elder.
Rocker, who came under intense criticism for remarks on racial, ethnic and sexual minorities in a Sports Illustrated article in December 1999 while with the Atlanta Braves, will be reunited with John Hart, who resigned as Indians general manager and was named to the same position in Texas.
The move puts Rocker in the same clubhouse with volatile outfielder Carl Everett, who recently was acquired from Boston.
Last season with the Indians, Hart acquired the hard-throwing 27-year-old Rocker from the Braves for pitchers Steve Karsay and Steve Reed, a move that backfired.
Rocker struggled with the Indians, going 3-7 with a 5.45 ERA in 38 games and converting just 4-of-7 save opportunities. He was anointed as the club's closer upon the deal but wound up losing the job to Bob Wickman.
There is a clear need for Rocker in Texas, which had 18 blown saves last season while using Tim Crabtree and Jeff Zimmerman in the closer's role. Rocker, however, is expected to be used in a setup role with Texas.
Rocker is the third new addition to the Texas bullpen, joining Todd Van Poppel and Jay Powell, who recently signed as free agents.
Due to his insensitive remarks in the SI article, Rocker was suspended for two weeks and fined by Commissioner Bud Selig.
The comments were directed primarily at New Yorkers but stung people across the country, including all-time home run king and Braves employee Hank Aaron, who said he was "sick and disgusted" after reading the statements.
Rocker enjoyed his best season in 1999, collecting a career-high 38 saves while posting a 4-5 record. He owns a lifetime mark of 11-19 with 87 saves and a 3.05 ERA in 248 games.
Elder, 26, the Rangers' fourth-round pick in the 1997 draft, split time last season between Class AA Tulsa and Class AAA Oklahoma, compiling a 9-10 record with a 3.98 ERA in 28 games --pi 21 starts.