The three abdominal surgeries since January aren’t what’s driving Jake Diekman mad.
It’s the wait for his first bullpen session since undergoing three abdominal surgeries for ulcerative colitis that has the left-hander pacing and stalking the bullpen at Camden Yards.
The countdown clock is ticking and is down to three more days.
Diekman long-tossed Monday to 170 feet and then made 8-10 throws off the bullpen mound to begin to get the feel for throwing off a slope again. His long awaited first bullpen session of the year remains scheduled for Thursday.
“Three days,” Diekman said. “I feel really good.”
Thursday is the six-week mark since his final operation and the point when his surgeon said the tissue around the incision on his stomach should be healed. Diekman has been throwing for a month and said his feels like it would before spring training.
He expects to be pitching in August and able to still be going if the Rangers play into October.
“If I can’t for three months after throwing a full month, then I don’t know what I’m doing here,” Diekman said. “There was never any doubt I was going to pitch a lot this year. I feel like my mind’s there. I don’t really care if my body’s there. You can fake it until you make it.”
Diekman would give the Rangers a second bullpen lefty with Alex Claudio, who saved both weekend wins at Kansas City. Manager Jeff Banister said that he can’t name Claudio as the closer because he is the only lefty and might be needed earlier in games.
To that end, Claudio was used Sunday in the eighth inning against three Royals lefty hitters.
When Claudio isn’t available, Banister said that right-handers Jose Leclerc and Tony Barnette are the best options against lefty batters.
Keone Kela would also figure into that mix ,though he could also be the closer. Kela (shoulder) could be activated Thursday, though the Rangers are still determining if he needs a quick rehab assignment. He will throw a bullpen session Tuesday.