Robbie Ross is staying in the rotation, Joe Saunders is likely heading to the bullpen and Tanner Scheppers’ immediate future is simply getting healthy.
Those were among the notable pitching plans described by general manager Jon Daniels on Thursday afternoon.
The left-handed Ross, converting from reliever to starter, has struggled in his last two starts, allowing six earned runs in each. He lasted only 3 1/3 innings against Oakland on April 30, and was knocked out after 5 1/3 innings against Colorado on Tuesday.
The Rangers have options such as giving Nick Martinez another start or calling up Nick Tepesch from Triple A Round Rock. But, for now, they are committed to letting Ross work through it.
“We’re not making any changes to the rotation,” Daniels said.
That is also why Saunders appears bullpen-bound. The veteran left-hander has pitched exclusively in a starting role – making 222 starts over the past 10 seasons – but there isn’t a need for him in that role right now.
Saunders, on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his left ankle, pitched four innings in a rehab start on Tuesday and is expected to pitch longer in another one this weekend. Depending on how that goes, the Rangers will make a call.
The bullpen idea isn’t expected to sit too well with Saunders, but it’s ultimately the team’s call. However, the team understands a player’s preferences.
“You want to have guys that buy in and want to be a part of it and he’s been a starter his whole career,” Daniels said. “But that’s where we are. Things are changing on a day to day basis, but at the moment in time, our need is in the bullpen.”
Even though the bullpen is a “need,” Daniels wasn’t ready to speculate on Scheppers’ future. Scheppers, on the DL with right elbow inflammation, was the team’s Opening Day starter but developed into an elite setup reliever last season.
“He’s one of our 12, but we’ve got to get him healthy first,” Daniels said. “The tough part is he told us after the fact that he was sore the whole time … is that why he was struggling? I don’t know.
“I do think he can start, but from a developmental standpoint he’s not going to be a finished product Day 1.”
Yu Darvish had a wide array of moments with A.J. Pierzynski last season.
Pierzynski was behind the plate in both of his perfect game bids against Houston, and they also had a memorable clash on the mound during a loss at Oakland on Sept. 4.
All in all, though, Darvish enjoyed his season with Pierzynski and is looking forward to being on the opposite side Friday as the Rangers open a three-game series against the Red Sox.
“We went through so many things,” said Darvish, who went 6-5 with a 2.80 ERA in 17 starts with Pierzynski starting at catcher last year.
“He caught in the game I almost threw a perfect game and also the second game I almost threw a perfect game … and in September we fought on the mound.
“There are so many things we went through, but overall we got along very well. I’m looking forward to it.”
Scott Baker saved the Rangers bullpen Wednesday, allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings. But the Rangers needed another long reliever Thursday and designated Baker for assignment, purchasing the contract of right-hander Justin Germano from Triple A Round Rock.
Daniels and Washington both said it was a difficult conversation to have with Baker.
“It was very tough,” Washington said. “We’re still trying to protect our bullpen and we needed to get an arm up here.”
The Rangers have 10 days to either trade Baker or put him through outright waivers. If he isn’t claimed, Baker could still take his release and become a free agent.