Rangers notes: Injury uncertainty pushes starting pitcher to top of Texas’ wish list

Posted Thursday, Jul. 18, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Yu Darvish is expected to join the Texas Rangers’ starting rotation Monday, and Alexi Ogando could be ready Tuesday if he gets a clean bill of health after Thursday’s rehab start.

But the Rangers aren’t sure when or if Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison and Nick Tepesch will be available again this season, or how effective they will be if they are able to return.

The rotation remains a concern as the second half begins Friday night, and the Rangers have pushed acquiring a starter to the top of their wish list with fewer than two weeks remaining before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

“I don’t know exactly where it’s going to head, but we’d like to upgrade the club if we can,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “Our goal is a lot bigger than just being in a good position. We’ve got expectations and goals, and I’d like to reward the club and help these guys.”

Matt Garza is the Rangers’ main focus. They have scouted the Chicago Cubs right-hander extensively, something they did last July before he was injured.

The Rangers are not willing to part with infielder Jurickson Profar or left-hander Martin Perez for Garza, who, as a free agent after this season, would be a two-month rental unless the Rangers plan to sign him in the off-season.

Garza is scheduled to pitch again Monday, the same day that Lewis could throw a second rehab start. Lewis’s target to return is mid-August, but he has already suffered two setbacks while coming back from surgery for a torn flexor tendon last July.

Harrison threw 25 pitches at 75 percent in his first bullpen session since having two back operations in late April and early May, and he is aiming for a late-August return. Meanwhile, Tepesch (elbow inflammation) has played catch the past three days but only at 90 feet.

Daniels said that the Rangers also remain interested in a right-handed hitter, though they will get two back Friday night when Jeff Baker and Craig Gentry are activated from the disabled list.

As of Thursday, though, a starting pitcher was the Rangers’ No. 1 priority.

“You could really go both ways,” Daniels said. “We’re having active conversations on both fronts.”

Baker and Gentry return

Jeff Baker and Craig Gentry will come off the disabled list Friday, giving the Rangers a deeper — and full — four-man bench. To clear a spot for them, the Rangers optioned catcher Robinson Chirinos and right-hander Wilmer Font to Triple A Round Rock on Thursday. The team had been carrying an extra reliever leading up to the All-Star break.

Baker, on the disabled list with a sprained right thumb since June 18, went 2 for 11 over three rehab games at Double A Frisco. He is expected to start tonight with the Orioles starting left-hander Wei-Yin Chen.

“I’m good to go,” Baker said. “We’ve got the second half of the season and we’re hunting down the A’s, and I’m excited to be back and be a part of that.”

Gentry, on the DL since June 23 with a non-displaced fracture in his left hand, went 3 for 13 over four rehab games with Frisco. He had been in a platoon with Leonys Martin in center field, but Martin has taken over the everyday job, manager Ron Washington said.

Still, Gentry will get the majority of his at-bats against left-handers.

“The hand feels great. It didn’t bother me when I was swinging, so I’m ready to go,” Gentry said.

Briefly

• Lance Berkman, on the DL with a hip injury, received treatment during Thursday’s workout but did not take batting practice.

• Colby Lewis said he felt normal soreness the day after his rehab start and is scheduled to start again for Double A Frisco on Monday.

• The Rangers’ rotation against the Orioles will be Derek Holland, Ross Wolf and Martin Perez. Ron Washington switched Wolf and Perez to break up the left-handers in the rotation.

• The Rangers will have a pregame ceremony to honor Yankees closer Mariano Rivera on Thursday. Participants in the ceremony will include Rangers Hall of Famer John Wetteland, whom Rivera succeeded as New York’s closer in 1997, and Joe Nathan, who closed out Tuesday’s All-Star Game after Rivera pitched the eighth.

• TV announcer Steve Busby will be out of the broadcast booth Friday and Saturday for personal reasons. Mark McLemore will join Tom Grieve for each night. Radio announcer Eric Nadel, meanwhile, will miss the Rangers-Orioles series. Pre- and post-game host Mike Peasley will fill in with Matt Hicks.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson

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