SEATTLE — Lost in the game-ending strikeout controversy and in the 300th save of Joe Nathan’s career Monday night was an admission from the closer that he might be going through a bit of a dead-arm phase.It’s not unusual for pitchers to encounter stretches when their arms aren’t generating the same velocity or have the same strength as normal, and the only way to get through it is to keep pitching.Nathan didn’t say Friday if he’s still fighting a dead arm after he locked up career save No. 301 on Thursday night in the Texas Rangers’ 4-3 victory.The highest gun reading Nathan produced was 92 mph, 2 mph off his 2012 average fastball velocity. But the veteran isn’t worrying too much yet.The reason? Movement.“I noticed right away that I had really good movement,” Nathan said. “I used a lot of sinkers. It’s not like I was trying to jump on a four-seamer. I had good movement and let that work.”Nathan worked a 1-2-3 ninth to preserve the victory. The game ended on a Jason Bay fly ball that was caught at the warning track. Bay hit a 91 mph fastball.“Ninety-one to 93 with that movement is good,” Nathan said. “Obviously if it’s straight, 99 mph can get hit. It’s all about location. I’m not worried. I’m getting outs. I don’t care if I’m flipping knuckleballs up there if I’m getting people out.”Darvish to be skipped?The Rangers have an off day Monday before opening a three-game series at Wrigley Field, giving them the opportunity to juggle their starting rotation.Manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux have looked at a few different scenarios, and one of them involves pushing back Yu Darvish if the blister on his ring finger persists after his start Friday night.As of Friday afternoon, though, the plan was to push back Justin Grimm to the Seattle series next weekend at Rangers Ballpark and have Derek Holland, Darvish and Alexi Ogando pitch against the Cubs.“It’s something that’s come up,” Washington said of skipping Darvish. “There’s a possibility that something will come up.”Darvish has been bothered by the issue with his ring finger since the sixth inning of his first start April 2, when he just missed a perfect game. He left his start Sunday after five innings when a flap of skin came off.Changeup pleases OgandoThe Rangers were banking on Alexi Ogando giving them a significant contribution this season after again moving him from the bullpen to the rotation, and the right-hander is on his way after winning his first two starts.Ogando is continuing to work on his fastball command, which was a little erratic Monday against Tampa Bay. The development that has pleased him the most so far is the effectiveness of his changeup.At 85 mph, the pitch’s velocity is at a middle ground between his fastball and slider, the two pitches he throws most often. The work he did in Arizona is paying off.“I was working through it in spring training and trying to find the right speed for it,” Ogando said. “It’s significantly slower than my fastball.”Briefly• The Rangers and Cubs will wear No. 42 on Tuesday to commemorate Jackie Robinson Day, which falls on the clubs’ off day Monday.• Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando took some batting practice Friday in preparation for the Cubs series at a National League park. “All I care about is getting my bunts down,” Holland said.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson