The Texas Rangers have not yet named a starting pitcher for Saturday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox.
But a flurry of moves about 45 minutes before Thursday’s game seemed to point in one direction: Chi Chi Gonzalez.
The top pitching prospect in the Rangers organization could be called upon to make his major league debut Saturday in a nationally televised game on KDFW/Ch. 4.
Gonzalez is 3-5 with a 4.15 ERA at Triple A Round Rock this season. But since a rough outing May 4, Gonzalez has allowed four earned runs in 16 1/3 innings, giving up just 14 hits with 13 strikeouts and seven walks in that span.
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Rangers manager Jeff Banister said Thursday that Saturday’s starter had not been determined.
“It could be [Phil] Klein, or possibly somebody who’s not here,” Banister said a couple hours before Klein was sent down. “Right now, it’s TBA.”
Klein, a right-hander who made two starts this past week after been called up from Round Rock, was sent back down and replaced by shortstop Hanser Alberto.
The Rangers have an opening on their 40-man roster after trading Carlos Peguero to Boston on Wednesday for cash considerations. Gonzalez’s contract would need to be purchased, which would place him on the 40-man roster if he was called up by the Rangers.
Alberto, a steady infielder, could help spell Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre on the left side of the infield, if necessary.
DeShields at second
Delino DeShields made his major league debut at second base late in Wednesday’s game.
It was a positive development, but don’t expect him to be starting there anytime soon. Banister said DeShields is not quite to that point yet, although he looked smooth in the two fielding chances he had.
“I believe he’s an option to be able to go play second base,” Banister said. “It gives us some flexibility for him to have the ability to transition from the dirt to the grass and vice versa.”
DeShields came up in the Astros’ organization as a second baseman, but he was moved to the outfield for the 2014 season. He’s played exclusively in the outfield for the Rangers before moving Wednesday from center to second for the last three innings.
“In today’s game, to have players like that, they are invaluable,” Banister said. “[Who] can fill in and get guys off their feet and rested when necessary and still play at a fairly high production rate. They find a way to get 400 at-bats for you.”
Banister said a full transition to second base for DeShields this season is highly unlikely. Not only because it’s a lot to put on a rookie’s plate, but because the Rangers have hopes that Rougned Odor will soon return from Round Rock.
“We like what Delino has been able to give to us to this point,” he said. “He’s shown aptitude, he’s showing some instincts. Love the speed, the maturity in the at-bats, some of the decision-making processes on the field have been solid.”
DeShields’ ability to play second adequately, most of all, gives Banister more options. It also could keep him in the lineup more often.
“I don’t think we can put too much on his plate, but I sure don’t want it falling off the edge,” he said.
Left-hander Derek Holland threw for the first time Thursday since a left shoulder injury sidelined him April 10. He made 20 light tosses from 60 feet.
Holland hopes to return from the muscle strain in his left scapula by early July.
Harrison goes five
Left-hander Matt Harrison threw his fourth extended spring training game Thursday.
He allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits while striking out nine and walking none in five innings. He threw 77 pitches (52 strikes), a high during his comeback from spinal fusion surgery. He’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session Saturday in Arlington.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760