Rangers first baseman/designated hitter Mitch Moreland returned to the lineup Wednesday night to bat fifth against Kansas City after a stint on the 15-day disabled list.
Moreland, who was penciled in at first base, had a loose bone chip removed from his left elbow. In a four-game rehab stint with Triple A Round Rock, he went 0 for 11 but reached base on six walks.
Still, even without a hit for the Express, Moreland felt confident Wednesday just before the club officially announced his return.
“I feel great,” said Moreland, who went 2 for 3 Wednesday with two singles. “I felt good before I even went on [the rehab stint]. The main thing is to make sure the elbow holds up through a few swings, and you know, I kind of figured it did. They said it was going to be a quick, easy thing. It seemed to be the whole time, so it felt good.”
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Moreland was left with four scars around his elbow as a result of the arthroscopic surgery. But he hasn’t had to deal with much pain.
“They said it might be a little sore here or there, but it’s really felt good the last couple days, so I’m feeling great and ready to get back out there,” he said. “It was pretty quick, pretty painless.”
Moreland was batting .304 with a homer and nine RBIs in 16 games before his injury. Outfielder Jake Smolinski, who had been in the big leagues all season, was sent to Triple A Round Rock to make room for Moreland.
Left-hander Ross Detwiler will start Thursday’s series finale against Kansas City. Detwiler was tagged for five runs in four innings in a 7-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday. Three of those runs game in the first inning.
Despite the setback, Detwiler had settled into a groove his previous two starts. He combined for 121/3 innings against Seattle and Houston, giving up three runs and striking out 12. He gave up 15 runs over his first three starts of the season.
Detwiler attributed the improvement to getting ahead early in the count, something he knows he has to do against the Royals’ lineup.
“They don’t try to get too big,” he said. “They just try to get their timely hitting. They try to get their guys in scoring position and move them over. Have to try and combat that and get the leadoff hitter out in every inning and kind of put the pressure on them even more.”
▪ Reliever Stolmy Pimentel was designated for assignment Wednesday, as Texas purchased the contract of Round Rock left-hander Sam Freeman, a Carrollton Hebron product. The Rangers have 10 days to waive, trade or release Pimentel.
▪ Reliever Kyuji Fujikawa was back in the Rangers’ clubhouse Wednesday. His 30-day stint on the DL ended Wednesday. Texas was expected to announce a move Thursday morning.
▪ Shin-Soo Choo became the first Ranger since Ian Kinsler in 2011 to hit leadoff homers in consecutive games with second straight shot over the wall in right on Wednesday. Two other Rangers have done it: Mike Hargrove in ’77 and Oddibe McDowell in ’85.
▪ Left-hander Matt Harrison threw two innings (29 pitches) in an extended spring game against Kansas City on Wednesday in Surprise, Ariz. He allowed two runs on three hits, with a walk and two strikeouts. Harrison, who is returning from spinal fusion surgery, last pitched in the majors a year ago Wednesday.
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7760