Texas Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo begins a minor league rehab assignment Sunday with Triple A Round Rock in Albuquerque.
Choo has been on the disabled list since April 10 with a strained right calf. Choo played four days of extended spring games in Surprise, Ariz., this week before joining Round Rock. Choo is expected to play a full nine innings in consecutive games before being ready to rejoin the Rangers in Houston on Friday.
“We have to get him all the way up to nine, back to back,” manager Jeff Banister said. “It goes back to how he wakes up the next morning.”
Banister declined to say how Choo’s return will alter the lineup, but it’s expected that Nomar Mazara will move to left field from right to allow Choo to play where he’s most comfortable. Ian Desmond will remain the center fielder with Delino DeShields in the minors.
Ryan Rua has played well with more playing time in left field lately. He was batting .318 with two home runs and five RBI in his past seven games entering Saturday.
“It’s been on my brain since he left,” Banister said of his options when Choo returns. “The great part of this is there are lot of guys making this a tough decision.”
Left-hander Cesar Ramos makes his second start for the Rangers and first since April 25 in the series finale Sunday against the Blue Jays.
Ramos pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings of relief against the Jays on May 5 in Toronto. Making a spot start is nothing new for Ramos, who started eight games over four seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I guess I just kind of wing it day by day,” he said of his preparation. “Luckily, I’ve got some experience doing that in Tampa. You just kind of do what you can between [appearances] to stay sharp because you never know when it’s going to be that game when you go out for one hitter or go out for as long as you can.”
Against the Jays’ powerful lineup, Ramos said, it’s important to get ahead in the count.
“Keep it out of their barrel,” he said. “If I’m in favor in the count I might be able to get away with one more, but if I’m behind I’ve got to be a little bit more pinpoint.”
Right-hander A.J. Griffin is continuing to get treatment on his tight right shoulder, but it’s feeling much better. Griffin was placed on the 15-day DL May 8.
“It feels more free and feeling the way it should feel,” Griffin said. “I knew I didn’t hurt it that bad, I just couldn’t pitch good. If I kept pitching I might’ve hurt myself. It just got tight and when one thing gets tight it makes everything else get jacked up.”
As for a time frame for his return?
“When it feels good,” he said. “So far, so good.”
Right-hander Kyle Lohse passed his physical and was assigned to Round Rock after his minor league deal with the Rangers was official.
He’ll report Sunday in Albuquerque and will be activated when he makes his first start in a few days.
McKenry opts out
Triple A Round Rock catcher Michael McKenry took his opt out Saturday, a clause in his contract that gave him the chance to elect free agency by May 15 if he wasn’t on the Rangers’ major league roster.