ARLINGTON — Injured Texas Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland had a boot on his left ankle Thursday, a week after having a cast removed.He had ankle reconstruction surgery on June 23. He played in 52 games while dealing with ankle pain.“It’s feeling a lot better. It was great to get the cast off so I could actually take a shower without a trash bag on me,” Moreland said.He said it’s a little early to determine how good the repaired ankle feels with the boot, which he may have to wear for another month.“I’m still pretty confined with the boot as far the mobility. But it feels great,” he said.“The pain I was feeling hadn’t been there, but there’s some stiffness and I probably need to build some strength back up there before I can really tell a huge difference.”Moreland hopes to be 100 percent by spring training but has no timetable yet for returning to baseball work.Claudio’s big dayRookie Alex Claudio made his major-league debut Wednesday night, but had a funny transition with his new team and manager.He was ready to jump into the pool after a workout when he got the call at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Triple A Round Rock. He arrived in Arlington three hours later during the Rangers’ 14-inning win over the Tampa Bay Rays.“I met him in spring training, but when he walked up on the mound, it was the first time I really had a chance to congratulate him and welcome him into the big leagues,” manager Ron Washington said.“I just told him to get us three outs and he did.”The 22-year-old from Juncos, Puerto Rico, pitched a perfect eighth inning and struck out the first batter he faced, a ball he will hand off to his parents.“It’s a dream come true. I never thought to myself that my first out would be a strikeout,” Claudio said. “I want to give the ball as a present to my parents because they’ve always been there for me.”Command in demandThe last time the Los Angeles Angles were in town, they outscored the Rangers 35-15 over a four-game sweep.Nick Martinez didn’t pitch in the series, but he observed how talented their lineup can be when it’s locked in.“Commanding my fastball is very key against this team, very important to this lineup,” said Martinez, who allowed two runs in a career-high seven innings in his last start against the Angels on June 21. He had a perfect game through five innings in the outing before the Rangers lost 3-2 in the 10th.“I did a really good job of commanding my fastball that day, both sides of the plate, up and down,” he said.“When they’re hot like that you just have to try to find a way to just battle and try to make your pitches. You can’t really leave pitches over the plate for them to handle.”Washington said the rookie is making strides.“I think if you put him in the minor leagues right now he’d dominate,” Washington said. “He’s making strides, it’s just hard to see it up here because up here it’s results orientated, it’s all about numbers.”Martinez has enough quality pitches to succeed in the big leagues, he said.“He’s got pitches,” Washington said. “He just has to learn how to use them and use them in certain situations and learn how to use them on the fly. It’s about adjusting and readjusting.” Briefly• Left-hander Derek Holland, in his fourth injury rehab outing, allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits, including two doubles in 3 2/3 innings Thursday for Triple A Round Rock. He struck out four and walked two.• Right-hander Nate Adcok was optioned to Round Rock to make room for Robbie Ross, who started Thursday’s game.
Stefan Stevenson 817-390-7760 Twitter: @StevensonFWST