A look at the right thumb of Alex Rios can make a person grimace. That’s how badly swollen it is.
The injury led to a day off for the Texas Rangers right fielder Wednesday in the series finale at Safeco Field. Rios, though, seemed surprised that he wasn’t in the lineup.
“Sometimes it’s good to reconsider your thinking, and maybe a few days off would be beneficial,” he said.
The Rangers have no designs on shutting down Rios, as they have left fielder Shin-Soo Choo for surgery to remove a bone spur from his left elbow and right-hander Yu Darvish for mild elbow inflammation.
Rios doesn’t want that, even though the thumb has caused him to make adjustments in his swing that just aren’t working. He believes that the thumb injury developed as he made adjustments to compensate for his sprained right ankle.
“Those things have implications,” said Rios, who is batting .153 over the past 21 games. “But even with that, I feel I can do a little and I want to be on the field.”
Manager Ron Washington said that he checks with Rios before every game, though he alone made the call to sit him against Seattle. But Washington will keep Rios in the lineup regularly.
“He’s a big part of my lineup,” Washington said. “He’s a part of this team, and he wants to be there for everyone. I think that’s admirable, and it shows young guys that sometimes when things aren’t the way you want them, you’ve got to figure out a way to get it done.”
The Rangers’ bullpen provided three more scoreless innings Tuesday in a 5-0 loss, giving them a 0.82 ERA in their past 13 games.
Jon Edwards and Alex Claudio, two of four rookies in the bullpen, provided the solid relief work. Neither has been charged with an earned run since their promotions from Triple A Round Rock earlier this month.
Both are at the two-week mark in the major league careers, and are trying to soak it all in while still figuring out a way to get hitters out.
“It’s definitely a growing experience. It’s all new,” said Edwards, who has allowed four hits over his first 4 1/3 innings. “But you just try to play the game. You go out and do the same things you’ve done all the way through.”
The pitching staff as a whole has been improving of late, said Washington. He ran through the entire list of young pitchers, including three in the rotation, and spoke favorably of each one.
Edwards, Claudio, Phil Klein and Roman Mendez have shown Washington that the Rangers will have bullpen options in 2015 to go with Tanner Scheppers and Alexi Ogando, who are out for the season.
“We might have to add some pieces,” Washington said. “But we’re looking good in the pitching department, and it’s because these guys got an opportunity. At least we know what they can do.”
• Pitching coach Mike Maddux will join Washington’s coaching staff on the team of MLB All-Stars that will tour Japan in November. Shortstop Elvis Andrus and third baseman Adrian Beltre have turned down an offer to play from the players association.
• Left-hander Derek Holland (knee) will make his final rehab start Thursday for Triple A Round Rock before joining the Rangers’ rotation, and he has instructions. “Holland needs to get through his innings and show a little domination,” Washington said. “I’m not saying he’s got to dominate for six or seven innings, but get through his innings, show some efficiency and do a little dominating.”
• Nick Tepesch had a hiccup Saturday against Kansas City, allowing six earned runs in 6 1/3 innings, but the right-hander feels as though he’s in the midst of the best stretch of starts in his career ahead of a start Thursday at Houston. “From one outing to the next, it’s been the best,” he said. “Just commanding my fastball and commanding my pitches and just being on the attack.”