Tablet Sports

Trade targets Rios, Cotts keep focus on Rangers

Alex Rios spent his off day Thursday preparing to be shipped away from the Texas Rangers, and the wife of left-hander Neal Cotts was fretting over contingency plans in case he was dealt before the non-waiver trade deadline.

Both players, though, learned just before the buses rolled out for a charter flight to Cleveland that the Rangers didn’t bite on any offer for them. All of their worrying was for naught.

“It was good to get a good night’s sleep,” Rios said.

As Rios knows, though, players can still be traded until Aug. 31. Twice he has been dealt after the non-waiver deadline after he passed through waivers.

“I’m not off the hook yet,” he said. “As of right now, I’m content and focused on baseball.”

The Rangers hold an option on Rios for 2015 worth $14 million. There is some value there, considering the market for corner outfielders.

General manager Jon Daniels said that the Rangers talked to Cotts’ agent, Joe Bick, about an extension that would keep him from leaving via free agency in the off-season.

Cotts is open to returning for 2015.

“It’s been mentioned,” he said. “I would like to come back here. I enjoy the team and the organization. I honestly believe we’re going to be a much better ballclub next year.”

Klein close to home

The latest pitcher to get a big-league audition for the Rangers is right-hander and Ohio native Phil Klein, their 30th-round pick who hasn’t allowed a run since May 13.

His scoreless inning streak, which began at Double A Frisco and continued over nine games at Triple A Round Rock, had reached 35. He said that tweaks to his mechanics, a new grip on his slider and the addition of a cutter to his repertoire led to a run that he tries to block out of his mind.

“I try not to pay attention to that, honestly,” said Klein, from Columbus, Ohio, about a two-hour drive south of Progressive Field. “Just going out and trying to throw consistent good pitches outing after outing, and that stuff adds up at the end.”

Manager Ron Washington said that Klein will work in the middle innings and could get more than three outs of work. As pitchers join the roster, Washington will try to pitch them in different situations to get a feel for what they can do in pressure and non-pressure situations.

The hope is to get a better idea of which of those pitchers could be options in 2015.

“Will we find out totally what they offer? No,” Washington said. “But at least we’ll have an idea of what they can do and how they handle stuff.”

To make room for Klein, the Rangers designated left-hander Ryan Feierabend for assignment.

Basics for Mikolas

Right-hander Miles Mikolas was given a chance to pitch in the Rangers’ rotation because he attacked the strike zone and worked efficiently at Triple A Round Rock, and that’s what he has done during his good outings since his promotion.

Trouble finds him, though, when he has a breakdown in his mechanics and can’t command his pitches. That’s what happened to him last weekend against Oakland, and what he hopes to avoid Saturday at Cleveland.

“At times I’ve gotten away from that approach, and that’s when I’ve gotten hurt,” said Mikolas, who is 1-3 with an 8.54 ERA after five starts. “It’s important when I struggle with my command to remember the things we’ve been working on.”

Though Mikolas is one of the Rangers’ five starters, he hasn’t been a starter long. As such, he is still getting a feel for how to pitch multiple times through a lineup after being a one-inning reliever much of his career.

He’s learning on the fly at the highest level of baseball.

“It’s a big learning curve, especially for me since I was a reliever for so long,” Mikolas said. “Making adjustments inning to inning on a more consistent basis is something I’m still working on.”