The countdown is on until left-hander Jake Diekman makes his 2017 debut, but judging by his four rehab appearances, the left-hander might be one of the Texas Rangers’ top relievers right now.
Diekman, on his way back after three major operations to treat ulcerative colitis, retired all four batters he faced Friday with Triple A Round Rock. He has faced 13 batters on assignment, and retired all of them.
The Rangers, though, are inclined to give him at least one more rehab outing and possibly two before reinstating him from the 60-day disabled list. Rosters expand Friday, and that appears to be the target date for Diekman.
“He needs to pitch again,” manager Jeff Banister said. “Until we put him through what he needs to go through it would be kind of selfish of us. This guy’s missed significant time. He needs to go through the process. This guy’s is going to be a significant player for a while. I don’t want to put his career in jeopardy, either.”
Diekman is continuing to build arm strength, and his velocity has improved but isn’t at the point where it was prior to the surgeries. A typical step for a reliever in spring training of coming off an injury is to pitch back-to-back days, but Banister said that might not be necessary.
Diekman will not be the only player added Sept. 1. Infielder Jurickson Profar seems likely to join him, along with outfielder Jared Hoying. Left-hander Dario Alvarez is another candidate.
Banister said that the Rangers would like to add a third catcher, but the Rangers have only two on the 40-man roster. Among the candidates to be added are Brett Hayes and A.J. Jimenez at Triple A Round Rock and Jose Trevino at Double A Frisco.
All three were in big-league camp during spring training.