Texas Rangers

August 11, 2014

Rangers notes: Alex Rios hopes MRI shows nothing serious with ankle

The outfielder, who did not start Monday night, says he expects to return to the lineup soon.

Texas Rangers outfielder Alex Rios had an MRI exam on his injured right ankle Monday and hopes to be back in the lineup soon.

He was not in Monday’s lineup for the Rangers’ series opener against Tampa Bay at Globe Life Park. Manager Ron Washington said Rios would likely not play for at least a couple games.

Rios, who aggravated the ankle and left Sunday’s game in the fourth inning at Houston, said he was meeting with Dr. Keith Meister on Monday evening to discuss the results.

Rios hyperextended his ankle when he slid in hard at home plate. He originally hurt it on July 19 in Toronto during an at-bat. He left the game and sat out the next few nights. He did not play Friday or Saturday in Houston to allow lingering soreness to subside.

He’s optimistic that there isn’t anything structurally wrong, but says it’s painful to play on.

“I don’t feel like I’ll be going on the DL but we’ll see,” he said. “This is something I guess I’m going to have to deal with throughout the year. I don’t like missing time. I like to be on the field.”

The nagging pain and uncertainty led to the MRI.

“We’ve come through many injuries; I’m experiencing one myself,” Rios said. “It is frustrating to go through all these things, plus the season we’re going through is not easy to swallow.”

Tepesch makes strides

Right-hander Nick Tepesch goes for a third consecutive solid start on Tuesday. It would be another sign of improvement for Tepesch, who has yet to string more than two quality starts together in the majors.

He’s come close, including his first three starts this season, but struggled with consistency much of June and July.

Tepesch held the White Sox scoreless through 5 2/3 innings in a win last week. He escaped trouble with key pitches to force three double play balls.

“The biggest thing was guys leading off an inning with a hit and then I came back and answered with a ground ball and the defense turned a double play,” he said. “In that situation that’s Plan A. It was just a matter of command and throwing all my pitches for strikes.”

In the 14 games before the All-Star break, the Rangers’ staff made just two quality starts. Since July 19, they’ve combined for 10 quality starts, plus five other solid ones in 22 games. Manager Ron Washington said his pitchers, especially the younger ones such as Tepesch, are “grinding a lot better mentally.”

“They’ve improved a lot,” Washington said. “We might not see the results in the physical part of it, but in the mental side of it, they’ve improved. They have a better understanding of what they want to go out and do.”

And watching fellow pitchers succeed has a way of rubbing off on teammates.

“I don’t really know one thing to put it on; it’s just maybe watching each other go out there and be successful and doing our things,” Tepesch said. “That maybe gives everybody else some confidence.”

Also, Tepesch refrains from thinking too far down the road.

“I feel like if you can do that it’s going to make it a lot easier on you mentally and you’re not worrying about what’s happened or what’s going to happen,” he said. “You’re worried about right now.”

Tolleson’s top form

Right-hander Shawn Tolleson retired all six batters he faced Sunday in Houston on 24 pitches.

“It’s something you strive for but not something you work on other than throwing strikes,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to. It’s always better throwing less pitches. But I would rather throw 25 pitches and have a scoreless inning. You throw as many pitches as you need without them scoring.”

Washington hoped to have Roman Mendez throw two innings on Sunday but decided against it after he threw 24 pitches in the sixth inning. Tolleson responded by making quick work of the Astros before Neftali Feliz closed it in the ninth.

“That was awesome,” Washington said. “That first inning was as crisp and clean as I’ve ever seen him. That’s what you’d like to see.”

Washington said he hopes Mendez and Tolleson can be used for multiple-inning appearances.

“You’d certainly like to have that flexibility,” he said. “At times they do that. Sometimes they get a little erratic with their command. It’s important they be multi-inning guys for us.”

Carp’s status

Mike Carp (strained right groin) said he was available, if needed, Monday.

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