Keone Kela hopes to return to the Rangers’ bullpen in the next few days. The reliever has been on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation since July 3. He’s eligible on Friday, the day the Rangers start the second half against the Royals at Kaufman Stadium.
Manager Jeff Banister said it’s unlikely Kela will be activated before Friday’s game. Kela said his shoulder responded well after throwing during the All-Star break. He threw long toss during Thursday’s optional workout at Kaufman Stadium.
“It feels really good. I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to come back after the break,” he said. “My body tells me I’m ready. I feel ready, my mind’s there.”
Kela has been suggested by Banister as a likely candidate to assume the closer role, which has been vacant since Matt Bush blew multiple saves in June. Kela said being a closer has always been a career goal, but he isn’t campaigning for the job either.
“The label of being a closer never really swayed how I’m going to pitch,” he said. “I know what comes with being the closer, you have to go out and get the 27th out ... but at the end of the day, I just try to focus on getting those three outs regardless of where they’re at.”
Kela has two saves in his career, including one on May 21 at Detroit.
“I just want to contribute the best I can to the team, I don’t really care where it’s at. If it’s the sixth inning, beautiful, if it’s the ninth beautiful,” said Kela, who has a 2.64 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings. “I understand the significance of the ninth inning. I know it’s a role I’d definitely gravitate towards but at the end of the day wherever I pitch I’m happy.”