Matt Harrison says he feels ready. The left-hander threw 86 pitches in eight scoreless innings for Double A Frisco Saturday night and will travel with the Rangers for their six-game West Coast road trip.
Harrison hopes to rejoin the roster from the disabled list after suffering a sore lower back early in spring training. His rehab assignment was scheduled to end in early May but after his latest performance, Harrison feels ready.
“In my mind, yeah, I’m ready,” he said. “But I don’t really need to convince myself, I have to convince them. We’ll see how it goes the next few days and they’ll determine whether or not I’m ready to go.”
His velocity improved Saturday, especially in the fourth inning, he said, in which he topped out at 94 mph.
“I think because I was more focused and I was on the attack,” Harrison said of his velocity. “Fourth inning [I] hit another gear. That’s when I really started to let it go and just trust it. A lot of those were with two strikes and I was trying to put a guy away. It’s definitely something I haven’t felt in a long time. I was happy to be out there and work things out and forget the other stuff that was going on.”
Harrison said the Rangers know he feels ready.
“I’ve been lobbying for a while,” he said. “I felt like myself again yesterday and we’ll see what happens from there.”
Early Sunday, Rangers manager Ron Washington said the club hadn’t met to discuss the plan for Harrison.
“But we’re certainly very happy with what Harry did [Saturday] night and the manner in which he did it,” he said. “But we haven’t had a chance to discuss a game plan yet.”
Conspiracy theorists have another magic bullet to mull over. During the sixth inning Sunday, umpires ruled Chicago’s Alejandro De Aza swung and missed on strike three despite the appearance of the ball hitting De Aza’s hand, the bat, or both.
De Aza immediately reacted in pain and a trainer inspected his right hand, the bottom hand on his swing. Rangers pitcher Robbie Ross thought it was a foul ball.
“It hit both,” De Aza said. “They said it hit my hand and I swung the bat.”
Chicago manager Robin Ventura challenged the play, arguing that the pitch also hit the bat.
“They’re saying they don’t have any evidence that it hit the bat,” Ventura said. “It’s one of those vague ‘it just stands’ rulings.”
By stopping and changing direction, the ball appeared to hit something. If it hit either De Aza’s hand, his bat or both, it seemingly should have been foul.
“I don’t know,” Ventura said. “I don’t have the answer to it.”
The league’s video replay policy, instituted this season, doesn’t allow for challenges on judgment calls such as foul tips and balls and strikes. The one possible explanation could be that home plate umpire James Hoye ruled that De Aza’s check swing constituted a bunt.
In that case, it also would have been a strikeout. But the official explanation given to the press box didn’t make reference to bunting and, furthermore, the umpires ruled that the ball didn’t hit anything.
So the ruling on the field, that he was not hit by the pitch and that he swung (which the third base umpire called) stood, making De Aza the victim of a swinging strikeout.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” De Aza said. “I’m just in shock. I didn’t ask [the umpire what changed the balls direction] because I was in a bad mood and I didn’t want to throw a curse word there and get thrown out of the game. I let the manager handle that. I’m not even going to check [the video] because I know what happened.”
Briefly• Elvis Andrus became the Rangers’ all-time leader in stolen bases with two steals Friday night, passing Ian Kinsler (173). He added another steal Sunday and has nine to lead the American League.
• Adrian Beltre (strained left quad) will travel with the team this week and is still scheduled to be activated Friday.
• Infielder Luis Sardinas, who was called up Saturday, singled in his first major league at-bat, an infield single to second to load the bases in the eighth.