Texas Rangers

Rangers’ rookie reliever Kela on mission to rest, reload

Rangers reliever Keone Kela led all rookies with 49 appearances before being sent down to Double A Frisco for some rest.
Rangers reliever Keone Kela led all rookies with 49 appearances before being sent down to Double A Frisco for some rest. Star-Telegram

Catcher Chris Gimenez was getting up to date with rookie reliever Keone Kela in the Texas Rangers’ clubhouse after being called up from Triple A Round Rock on July 31.

He asked Kela, 22, whose 49 appearances are the most by any rookie in the majors this season, how he was doing.

It was a simple question.

“I’m holding up, just trying to get through the season,” Kela told him.

Gimenez, 32, who has been up and down between the majors and minors for much of the past nine seasons, responded with some much-needed perspective.

“He told me to take this situation right here and don’t just get through the season, excel through the season,” Kela said.

The next day the Rangers sent Kela down to Double A Frisco to get some rest. Kela leaned on Gimenez’s advice to help him understand the move.

“It was a mutual decision that collectively the organization thought was necessary,” Kela said. “I think they wanted to give me a break from this whole situation. It’s a lot to show up to the ballpark and be mentally prepared and ready to play every day.”

That’s why the move was not only about Kela’s physical stability with a career-high in appearances (his previous high was 44 with Frisco last season), but also about giving him a mental rest from the day-to-day stress of the majors. Kela understands that and thinks it’s the right move.

“Oh, of course. It definitely is. I think when anybody does anything that holds a repetitive nature I think taking a break is always a great thing,” he said. “You get to refresh and revamp your mind and kind of set new sights on what the goal is and the objective.”

In his first appearance with Frisco on Thursday night Kela threw an 11-pitch perfect seventh inning to earn the win. He stuck out two, and his fastball hovered around 97 mph with a high of 99.

His return to the Rangers’ bullpen is likely to be sooner rather than later.

“I don’t feel run down or anything like that, but at the same time I do respect and acknowledge the fact that the organization is looking out for me and the longevity of my career as well as my position to help the Texas Rangers be what we ultimately want to be,” he said.

He wasn’t given a time frame for when the Rangers expect to recall him, but he’s not too concerned, either.

“That’s what this rest period is about. Let me catch myself and evaluate the situation, these last 5 1/2 months that I’ve had the opportunity to be in the big leagues,” he said. “This is also a humbling experience, too, to be able to come back to where I was last year. It puts things in perspective.”

Holland pitches again

Rangers left-hander Derek Holland makes his third rehab start at 6 p.m. Sunday at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

He’s expected to throw approximately 70 pitches.

Round Rock marathon

The Express lost in 16 innings Friday night, tying the club record for longest game (April 2012 against Omaha).

Round Rock lost when New Orleans scored on Will Lamb’s two-out, bases-loaded wild pitch.

Irwin’s debut

Veteran right-hander Phil Irwin, who joined Round Rock last week, took the loss in his debut Aug. 4 after allowing six earned runs on seven hits and three walks in two innings.

His second appearance was a big improvement. He retired the side in the bottom of the eighth Friday at New Orleans and allowed a hit and struck out three in 1 2/3 innings.

Profar honored

Low A Hickory’s Juremi Profar, Jurickson’s younger brother, was named South Atlantic League Player of the Week after hitting .450 with two homers and eight RBIs.

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @StevensonFWST

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