Anthony Bass was the last player to be named to the Rangers’ Opening Day roster.
But the club has not been shy about using him. He came in for emergency relief Friday when starter Derek Holland left with soreness in the back of his left throwing shoulder after the first inning.
He held the Astros to one run on four hits in five innings in a 5-1 loss at Globe Life Park. Bass not only helped prevent the Rangers from running through their bullpen, but could be a prime candidate to claim a temporary starting job in the rotation. Holland will miss four to six weeks, at least, with a strained subscapularis muscle.
For a roster afterthought, Bass has suddenly become a huge part of the pitching staff. He was the first pitcher used out of the bullpen in Monday’s season opener at Oakland. He pitched two scoreless innings against the Athletics the day after learning he had made the roster. He flew with the team to Oakland on Saturday night not knowing whether he would be or not.
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He finally got confirmation after the Rangers were unable to add a left-hander to the bullpen. So far, he’s been valuable.
“I hope so,” he said. “That’s what I’m out there to do, get outs. I feel like I can help the team regardless what the role is. Yes, I was on the fringe, but I don’t think about that stuff. Not now. Every time I go out there I have to prove myself. Nothing has ever been handed to me.”
Now, Bass could find himself filling in for Holland as a starter, especially in the short term with a Wednesday start to fill against the Angels. Bass, who has four years of major league experience with the Astros and Padres, added a split-fingered fastball and cleaned up some mechanics during the off-season.
“I feel like I’m getting a lot of hitters out in front of that pitch,” said Bass, who has five strikeouts in seven innings. “My slider has been pretty sharp so far to start the year.”
He’s also been able to spot his fastball on both sides of the plate when he needs to.
“For him to step up and do what he did ...Anthony Bass did a tremendous job and gave us exactly what we needed,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.
Bass noticed Holland’s velocity was down but was still surprised when he got the call.
“Definitely didn’t expect that happening. I just tried to pace myself and not get going too fast,” he said. “[I tried to] treat it like a start and try to get as deep as I can and then hopefully hand it over to the bullpen with the lead.”
The Astros led 2-1 when Bass was replaced by Roman Mendez to start the seventh, but he had kept the Rangers in the game. In the fifth, Bass came off the mound to make a diving catch on a popped-up bunt and doubled off Jonathan Villar at second.
“I just kind of blacked out a little bit and don’t know what happened,” Bass joked. “Instincts, man. I just went for it and hopefully caught it and I did. I was in a bind there with runners at first and second with nobody out trying to throw that fastball up in the zone to induce a high bunt like that.”
Less than a week into the season and Bass has quickly made himself an integral part of the team.
“I was hoping it was happening,” he said. “I want to help the team win. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m on the roster, whether it’s out of the bullpen or starting.”
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760