ARLINGTON — A slip off the team airplane kept Lance Berkman out of the Texas Rangers lineup for a second consecutive game on Friday.Berkman said he aggravated his aching right knee — which underwent two surgeries last season — when he tripped on the staircase of the team’s plane after it arrived from New York late Thursday night.“It was wet and the shoes I was wearing kind of had a slick bottom,” the 37-year-old Berkman said. “I ended up in a hurdler’s pose. I woke up and it was really sore.”Berkman, who has started only two of the past eight games, didn’t think the injury was serious but wouldn’t say whether he would be ready to start Saturday night. He was available to pinch hit Friday, manager Ron Washington said.“It’s one of those things where I’m going to wake up tomorrow and see how it feels,” Berkman said.Berkman got off to a strong start this season but has struggled lately. He is batting .194 over 62 at-bats in June. He said he is making a mechanical adjustment to get a stronger foundation on his front (right) leg when he bats left-handed.Berkman had two hits in his last start Wednesday, and he has a history of success against the Reds. He has 52 career home runs against them, his most against any opponent.Locked inNick Tepesch needed a start like his last one against St. Louis. The rookie right-hander struggled in his previous three starts but went out and held the best team in the majors to one run over 52/3 innings. He didn’t get the win, but the Rangers beat Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright.Manager Ron Washington called it a “very important” start, as Tepesch showed confidence and competitiveness.“He was locked in from a competing standpoint and had tremendous focus, too,” Washington said. “You can see it in the way he executed his pitches.”Tepesch said it always comes down to executing his pitches, particularly locating his sinker. If he locates that pitch, everything else tends to fall in line.Tepesch added that he doesn’t concern himself much with the security of his roster spot.“I don’t look at or worry about those things,” he said. “I just concentrate on myself and what I need to do.”Starters mendingColby Lewis and Matt Harrison continue to make progress in their recoveries from injuries.Lewis, who had flexor tendon surgery in his right elbow last July, threw a bullpen session Friday and will likely throw at least one more before progressing to live batting practice. His target period to return is late July.“I’ve had some setbacks, but I want to be ready for the push in August and September,” Lewis said.Harrison, rehabbing from two back surgeries, is playing catch and is hoping to throw off a mound in the next couple of weeks. He is still at least a month away from beginning a rehab assignment but is hopeful he can return in August.“I’m feeling much better,” Harrison said. “It’s definitely a boost of confidence to go out there and play catch without back problems.”Briefly• Reliever Joakim Soria (Tommy John surgery; pectoral strain) threw a scoreless inning in another rehab appearance with Triple A Round Rock. He allowed one hit with two strikeouts. He has had four scoreless rehab appearances so far, and is scheduled for another appearance Sunday at Round Rock.• Alexi Ogando, sidelined with right shoulder inflammation, threw a 50-pitch bullpen session Friday and could be cleared to throw live batting practice early next week. He would then go on a rehab assignment.• Neftali Feliz, recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery in Arizona, is throwing three bullpen sessions a week and remains on schedule for a possible return in mid-August.• The Rangers signed three more of their draft picks: LHP Cody Ege (15th round), LHP Luis Pollorena (23rd round) and RHP Chris Dula (25th round).
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison