Jake Diekman technically isn’t a September call-up.
The record will show that the Texas Rangers reinstated the left-hander from the 60-day disabled list Friday, which just happened to be the first day that active rosters could expand from 25 to 40.
Infielder Will Middlebrooks, catcher A.J. Jimenez and right-hander Paolo Espino were Sept. 1 call-ups, stretching the Rangers’ active roster to 29. The 29th, right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, is expected to join the club Saturday after a Thursday trade with the Chicago White Sox.
More will come next week, too. Jurickson Profar is a potential addition, and there are a few bullpen pieces the Rangers might want to add.
But of the players who were added and will be in the coming days, no one is bigger and none has as compelling of a story as Diekman, who will be looking to be the first known major-leaguer to pitch after three surgeries to treat ulcerative colitis.
“Pretty excited,” he said. “It’s been a very long road. I don’t know when I’ll get in a game. Hopefully soon. But, yeah, today is finally here.”
Diekman said from the outset of his ordeal that he would pitch this season. His road back started in late July with bullpen sessions before graduating to live batting practice and finally to a six-game rehab assignment.
He originally expected to return in mid-August, but a case of dead arm set him back. That’s fine, as it turns out. He’s still on track to hit his goal.
“It was more of my arm not catching up,” Diekman said. “Mentally I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m ready.’ Physically it wasn’t, so I had to wait 10 days to have the dead arm go away.”
Manager Jeff Banister said that Diekman will slide into his usual spot in the late innings, though not immediately. The first outing or two could come in a low-leverage situation.
“I want to get him out there just because I want to see him come out of that gate,” Banister said. “I want to hear the song, and I want to hand him the baseball and watch him pitch. But I’ve got to believe that he can give us some outs toward the back end.”