Keone Kela was relieved to get back on the mound Saturday night, almost a month since the Rangers’ reliever last pitched in a game.
Kela felt some nerves when he started the eighth against the Rays but he struck out Corey Dickerson to start the inning. A single and walk followed before he got an infield pop for the second out. He gave the Rangers’ bench a brief scare when he shook his throwing arm between pitches, which prompted a visit to the mound.
Kela was fine, however, and felt capable of finishing the inning after 14 pitches. The Rangers went with left-hander Alex Claudio with left-hitting Brad Miller due up and he retired pinch-hitter Trevor Plouffe to end the inning.
“I’ve been waiting for two weeks to get back out there,” said Kela, who was on the disabled list with right shoulder soreness since June 30. He was activated Thursday after twice throwing off a mound.
Manager Jeff Banister said he’ll let Kela rest for Sunday’s finale and then start using him more as his pitch count increases. The slow, cautious process has been tough for Kela.
“He has a good handle on it right now, Banister said. “He’s not trying to be too tough with it.”