In the big scheme of things, Derek Holland’s return to the mound for the Texas Rangers on Tuesday is more about putting his off-season knee injury and surgery in the rearview mirror than anything else.
The left-hander, who will start against the Kansas City Royals, knows that. But getting back this season, he said, is about much more than that.
The time away from his teammates has been “brutal,” he said, and he relishes the idea of pitching against playoff-bound teams such as the Royals, Angels and A’s in September.
“I want to be the upsetter. I want to go out there and be the guy that keeps them from going to the playoffs, if that’s what it comes down to,” said Holland, who tripped over his dog in January and had major surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. “It’s been a frustrating, brutal time not being able to play. Now I’m here and I need to make sure I make a statement out of it and make sure I show up.”
General manager Jon Daniels said in mid-July that if the Rangers were in contention, Holland’s return might have been sooner. But with the team out of the race, there was no need to rush him back. It’s the same theory regarding Yu Darvish, who has been on the disabled list for two weeks with elbow inflammation.
Holland said he feels great, but still less than 100 percent.
“There’s always going to be a little bit of rehab; you always want to continue to strengthen it,” he said. “It continues to get better each time. I’m not 100 percent but I’m pretty darn close.”
Manager Ron Washington said Holland’s return will help give his pitcher and the club some peace of mind.
“He can go into the winter knowing that he just has to do his winter stuff to be ready in spring training,” Washington said. “Just to know where he is. Finding out his physical abilities.”
While playing the spoiler, Holland hopes to put his frustrating season behind him.
“My goal is to show them it’s done, it’s over,” he said. “These guys have taken great care of me and gotten me to be where I need to be. I want to show them I’m able to perform and get back out there and be the guy that I once was.”
First batch of call-ups
The Rangers have called up right-hander Lisalverto Bonilla, left-hander Michael Kirkman and infielder Luis Sardinas from Triple A Round Rock. They’ll join the team on Tuesday, along with right-hander Nick Tepesch. Tepesch is still scheduled to start Wednesday in Kansas City.
Washington said Kirkman will be used primarily as a specialist against left-handed hitters.
“He’s been dominating lefties down [in Round Rock] and we’re going to give him a look-see,” Washington said. “This time we’re going to use him in a different role and see how he plays.”