ARLINGTON — Nick Tepesch felt a little soreness in his right wrist the morning after taking a liner off it, but he expects to make his next scheduled start Thursday at Minnesota.The 24-year-old right-hander planned to play catch before Sunday’s game, but the big test will come Monday when he throws a bullpen session in Anaheim. If that goes well, the Rangers won’t have to skip his turn in the rotation.“It feels all right now,” said Tepesch, who was diagnosed with a contusion on his right wrist.“I figured it would be more sore in the morning, not doing a whole lot overnight. I kept some pressure on it and it felt pretty good.”Tepesch said he’s been in a similar situation before. When he pitched at the University of Missouri, he took a liner off his upper forearm in the first inning. He left the game after that, but then made his next start.It was a scary incident Saturday night, though. Jesus Montero ripped a liner back at Tepesch in the second inning that ricocheted off his wrist and into right-center field.The seams of the ball took out a chunk of Tepesch’s skin, but he didn’t appear to be in too much pain. He threw a couple of practice pitches after that, but the Rangers weren’t going to let him stay in.“I don’t know how many miles an hour it came off that bat, but it happened so fast,” manager Ron Washington said. “Usually the next day tells, and he’s doing well.“That’s the hazard of being a pitcher. That opportunity is always there for you to release a ball and have one come back at you. If you’re stage-fright because of it, then I think you need to get another job.”Bullpen mattersCount Ian Kinsler among those impressed by the Rangers’ bullpen, which went into Sunday’s game with a 1.90 ERA, the second best in the American League.“The bullpen was probably our biggest question mark going into spring training and they’ve done a great job for us,” Kinsler said. “We have a lot of guys who want the ball, and it makes for a solid bullpen.”Rangers relievers had their most impressive night on Saturday when four relievers threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings. Tanner Scheppers got the final out of the seventh and worked the eighth, and Jason Frasor pitched the ninth.Scheppers has not allowed a run yet, and seems to have become the right-handed setup man. Frasor doesn’t seem to have a defined role.But Washington said no bullpen roles have been defined outside of closer Joe Nathan.Grueling stretchThe Rangers can’t do anything to change their schedule, but they are in the midst of a difficult stretch of 17 games — technically 16 after Wednesday’s rainout in Chicago — over 18 days.Fourteen of the 17 scheduled games are on the road, with the only homestand the three games against the Mariners over the weekend.“It’s never fun to be on the road this much, especially at the beginning of the season,” David Murphy said. “But we are pretty easily adaptable, and this is just another one of those things.”Said Ron Washington: “If we’re being challenged early, that’s a good thing. We’ll find out just how tough we are, and I believe we’re tough.”West relief updateRangers fans showed overwhelming support for the victims of the West explosion and fires last week by donating tens of thousands of essential items that filled up two large meeting rooms, as well as cash and gift card donations, to the Rangers’ relief initiatives.The Rangers said approximately $40,000 in cash donations will go to the citizens of West, brought in by fans, employees and the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation. The team intends to deliver the items collected this week.Carter Blood Care also reported that 80 donors were processed during Sunday’s blood drive at Rangers Ballpark. The number of units of blood drawn equates to more than 200 lives saved.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison