Keone Kela returned to active status Thursday and could be only a few outings away from becoming the Texas Rangers’ closer.
The right-hander, out since June 30 because of shoulder inflammation, won’t work consecutive games until the Rangers feel confident that he has built up the necessary arm strength.
Once he does, he could assume the spot that Sam Dyson and Matt Bush were unable to hold earlier this season. Left-hander Alex Claudio has recorded the most recent saves, last weekend at Kansas City.
Kela wants to be the guy in the ninth inning.
“I’ve always aspired to be a big-league closer, but it never really matters to me,” Kela said. “As long I have the opportunity to wear a jersey and step on that mound, I’m happy. I know what the ninth inning brings, but I think collectively we have an understanding that we have to get three outs every single inning.”
Infielder Pete Kozma was designated for assignment to make room for Kela on the active roster. That leaves Drew Robinson as the backup at shortstop, a position he has never played in the majors and played only once this season at Triple A Round Rock.
“He’s been getting his work in,” manager Jeff Banister said. “Now it’s time to get him in a game.”
The Rangers would play him there if Elvis Andrus were to need a few innings off but would likely recall Jurickson Profar if Andrus were to miss an extended period, as he did when he went on the paternity list earlier this month.