Cole Hamels got his green light.
Now Derek Holland wants his.
Hamels, the Texas Rangers left-hander who missed his last start with soreness in his left groin, was cleared to start Monday’s series opener against the Seattle Mariners.
Holland, who made his fourth rehab start Friday night for Triple A Round Rock, said he’s ready to return, and he’s been making sure manager Jeff Banister knows it.
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After throwing 89 pitches in five innings, plus another 10 pitches in the bullpen after he came out of the game, Holland texted Banister a knock-knock joke, albeit, one with no punchline.
Banister texted him back. “What’s up?”
Holland responded: “I’m at the door, can you let me in?”
Indeed, he was back at Globe Life Park throwing with Hamels before Saturday’s game.
“Plain and simple, I’m ready to go,” said Holland, who has been on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain since April 11. “I’ve proved my point. My arm’s feeling live, everything is good. I feel like I established everything I needed to last night with all my off-speed pitches. Everything was where it needed to be.”
In Holland’s view, the next step is rejoining his teammates, not making another rehab start. Especially, Holland said, with the team in contention for a playoff spot.
That wasn’t the case last season when the Rangers were ultra conservative with Holland coming back from knee surgery. With the team in last place, Holland’s return was pushed back to September. He had a 1.46 ERA in 37 innings when he returned.
“I took a while with a team that wasn’t really in it,” he said. “Now we are. I don’t know what else I need to show. My pitch count is there. I showed the velocity is still there. Heck, I got stronger as the game went on [Friday].”
Holland continued to work on all his pitches instead of worrying as much about keeping runs off the scoreboard. He struck out eight and allowed two runs on four hits and a walk.
Holland allowed 10 runs in 151/3 innings for Round Rock last year before a dominant September in the majors.
“I’m making sure everything is ready because once I get here there’s no time to be getting ready or working on this or that,” he said. “It’s go time.”
Back in the zone
Right-hander Yovani Gallardo said he has felt better in his past three starts, even if the results haven’t been where he’d like them to be.
Gallardo starts Sunday’s series finale against the Rays. Three starts ago his command improved, but he tipped his cap to the Yankees for hitting a couple solid pitches for homers July 30.
He improved in his next start, holding the Astros to three earned runs in five innings. And in his last start on Tuesday against the Twins he resembled the pitcher he was in throughout June by holding Minnesota scoreless in 52/3 innings.
“I threw a lot of pitches the first few innings, but I was able to get ground balls whenever I needed to,” he said. “I felt like I did a pretty good job. I’m going to keep on doing that.”
“I grew up not too far from where we went today. Just to be able to have that opportunity to be part of something like that in the area I grew up, it’s very important.” — Gallardo, who helped pass out 1,000 backpacks filled with school supplies Saturday morning at Refuge Church in Fort Worth as part of the Robinson Chirinos Foundation’s annual Back to School event. Other Rangers players on hand included Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre, Carlos Corporan and Rougned Odor.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760