Keone Kela has been watching his teammates from afar the past two months after undergoing surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow April 22.
He’ll throw a bullpen session Friday and begin a minor league rehab assignment soon thereafter.
“I just want to get back,” said Kela, who had a 2.39 ERA in 60 1/3 innings as a rookie in 2015. “I’ve enjoyed watching what the guys are doing right now, and I want to be part of the winning formula. I know I could be a good part of it.”
His arm out of the bullpen was a big part of the Rangers’ success a year ago. Right when the club could be looking to bolster its bullpen, Kela should be ready to return. He hopes to be back a few games before the All-Star break. If not, then the first series after — July 15-17 against the Cubs in Chicago.
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“I was very anxious right after the surgery,” he said. “I wanted to throw the first week out, but now I’m back in my routine. So I’m not so much antsy, just excited.”
He’s expected to spend a week or two building up strength in the minors before rejoining the Rangers.
“I know they want to see me have a back-to-back because what good am I if I can only go one inning and have to take a day or two off,” he said.
Catcher Robinson Chirinos was hit by a pitch on the right hand in the ninth inning Saturday, about six inches from where he fractured his arm in April.
X-rays were negative and Chirinos said he was fine after the game. He stayed in the top of the ninth as the Rangers rallied to score two runs in a comeback win. Bobby Wilson replaced him to catch Jake Diekman in the bottom of the inning.
“Thank God it hit me in a different spot,” said Chirinos, who had some swelling and pain but was otherwise OK.
Have pong, will travel
Most of the Rangers have grown fond of playing table tennis on a well-crafted, luxury table sitting in the middle of their clubhouse at Globe Life Park.
The bullpen guys love playing so much that they now have a road version and have set up makeshift games in visitor clubhouses. Shawn Tolleson purchased a net and plastic travel paddles (with collapsible handles for easy storage) at a toy store in San Francisco.
Before Saturday’s game, Tolleson beat Sam Dyson and Keone Kela on a small, round dinner table. To make up for less surface area, they changed the rules to allow hitting the ball before it bounces on your side of the net.
Tolleson and Elvis Andrus appear to be the best pong players on the team but they’re all pretty good. C’mon, they’re professional athletes. Tolleson and Andrus have split two matches. No word yet if the third match will be televised.