February 25, 2013

Notes: Rangers pleased with Colby Lewis’ progress

The right-hander throws 20 pitches off the front of a mound.

The sentiments Monday morning from Colby Lewis might come as a surprise to some, but the right-hander didn’t consider throwing 20 pitches off the front of a mound for the first time since having surgery seven months ago to be a major step.

Throwing from the top of the mound in a bullpen session this weekend would qualify as a significant stride in his rehabilitation from a torn flexor tendon. But Monday was the next step for the Texas Rangers’ Opening Day starter last year, and club officials continue to be pleased with his progress.

“I’m not going to rip on it like I normally would,” said Lewis, who did his work at the Surprise Recreation Campus rather than travel with the Rangers to Salt River Fields. “It’s nothing big throwing up 6 more inches. I don’t think it’s that big of a jump.”

Lewis remains on target for a return in late May, when he will jump back into the rotation. It’s assumed that he will take the fifth spot from Martin Perez or one of the other four candidates competing this spring.

Kyle McClellan is included in that group, for now. Manager Ron Washington said that the right-hander still has time to get stretched out to start even though he has been slowed by a sore shoulder.

The discomfort is not related to the surgery McClellan had in July to repair a ruptured shoulder capsule.

Berkman on Wednesday?

Designated hitter Lance Berkman, slowed by inflammation in his right calf, is expected to make his Cactus League debut at some point this week, but he and the coaching staff were on different time frames.

Berkman said that he was told that Wednesday would be his first spring game, but that was before his Sunday running session was postponed by cold temperatures. He is expected to run Tuesday and Wednesday.

Ron Washington was more in favor of Thursday or Friday, but is open to Wednesday if Berkman says he’s ready to go. Either way, the injury is no longer of any concern.

“This is really not a big deal at all,” Berkman said. “For a guy in my position, this is just general soreness you’d like to see abate before playing in a game.”

Third baseman Adrian Beltre, dealing with a similar issue, was scheduled to run Monday with Berkman.

Baker getting looks

If at the end of camp Jeff Baker hasn’t made the Opening Day roster, he can’t blame the Rangers for not giving him a chance to show his wares.

The veteran utility player, who signed a minor league deal in the off-season, appeared in the Rangers’ first three games before not appearing Monday against Colorado. Baker, though, isn’t consumed by trying to make an impression on anyone but himself.

“If you believe in yourself and your abilities, and go out there and have fun, things are going to work out,” Baker said. “It’s not like this is my first big league camp and look at a body of work of 30 or 40 at-bats as an end all, be all.”

Baker fits the mold of the kind of player Ron Washington has wanted on the Rangers’ bench. He’s a veteran with a National League background who understands his role and can stay sharp throughout the season without regular at-bats.

“There’s a way to do that,” Baker said. “Being in the NL, you’ve got to be ready and good to go just in case. I think that’s only going to help me over here.”

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