Manager Jeff Banister made it perfectly clear Sunday and again Tuesday that there are no roles in the Texas Rangers’ bullpen and that each reliever has the same job: to get three outs with as little damage — with a huge preference toward no damage — as possible.
Banister, though, is attempting to keep things muddled as to how he will deploy his relievers. It’s a bit of gamesmanship being played by the manager, who doesn’t want the media to share his thoughts.
All Banister has said is that bullpen usage will depend on favorable matchups, for which there are all kinds of possibilities, and possibly riding the hot hand, for which there aren’t that many possibilities.
The latter could point to right-hander Shawn Tolleson emerging as the closer more often than not. Tolleson, like the others, hasn’t heard a word about when he will be used, but his goal is to be a closer at some point.
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He was used in the ninth Wednesday, pitching around a one-out double to pick up his first career save. He likes the idea of being a closer.
“I would be excited about it,” said Tolleson, whose changeup would play well against left-handed hitters. “But it’s not what I’m trying to do [now]. I truly want us to piece it together and put up zeroes and win games. However Banny sees that happening is the way we’re going to roll with it.”
Tolleson said that the relievers haven’t talked about the new situation, which was revealed to them Sunday. They have taken note that Banister, at least through the first two games, stayed true to his word.
“We just have to be on the tip of our toes and be ready to go at any point,” Tolleson said.
Tolleson pitched the ninth inning Sunday in a non-save situation, but had been warming with the score at 4-1 before the Rangers added an eighth-inning insurance run.
Deposed closer Neftali Feliz worked the seventh and eighth innings Tuesday, and Ross Ohlendorf and Alex Claudio were warming in the ninth in case the Rangers had tied the game.
Though Banister won’t say so, it seems likely that Tolleson would have started warming had the Rangers taken the lead.
“I haven’t gotten any word about that,” Tolleson said. “So far so good. It’s been working so far.”
Carlos Peguero was designated for assignment to clear a spot on the 25-man roster for Wednesday starter Phil Klein after the outfielder’s plate approach deteriorated following a stretch of success on the last road trip.
Peguero could remain in the organization if he clears waivers and accepts an assignment to Triple A Round Rock. The Rangers like the way he plays the outfield and runs the bases, and the power can be impressive.
“We need for Carlos to clean up the approach and cut down on the strikeouts,” Banister said.
With Peguero gone, the Rangers are likely to play with a short bench and an extra man in the bullpen until Josh Hamilton joins the team next week in Cleveland. The rotation’s inability to go deep into games is the reason.
“When you look at where we are with our pitching, the last five starts have been five innings,” Banister said. “We’ll cover ourselves with the extra man in the bullpen.”
Mum on replay
Banister said that he looked at the replay of the close play at second base Tuesday in which the Rangers thought they had wrongly lost a challenge. Banister declined to reveal if he still felt that Hanley Ramirez should have been called out.
“At this point, it doesn’t matter what my opinion is,” Banister said.
Banister said that the Rangers could have avoided the need for a replay had Shin-Soo Choo’s throw from right-center field not skipped before reaching second and had shortstop Elvis Andrus made a quicker tag.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760