03/14/2003 9:39 pm ET
Rangers Notes: Zimmerman throws
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Perhaps it wasn't really pitching because he wasn't on a true mound, only a flat one. But what Jeff Zimmerman did Friday sure felt a lot closer to pitching than anything he had experienced in months.
Zimmerman, the veteran Rangers reliever who underwent elbow surgery twice last year, threw to a catcher for the first time since his Tommy John operation last July 30. He said it didn't feel perfect, but just going through the motions of pitching felt good enough for him.
"It's cool just to be on a mound and see a catcher in front of me and put my foot against the rubber," he said. "I felt like a pitcher again."
Zimmerman threw about 20 pitches over a span of seven minutes with the catcher stepping up a few feet to make it about 55 feet instead of 60 feet, 6 inches. He felt no pain in the surgically repaired elbow, but he said it wasn't like everything was just back to normal.
"It didn't feel fantastic out there, but I didn't really expect it to," Zimmerman said.
According to Rangers trainer Jamie Reed, the plan they hope to follow is to have Zimmerman stay on flat ground for a week, then move up to half the height of the regular mound for a week, then on to a full mound.
Zimmerman plans to throw every other day as he continues his rehabilitation. He expects to throw off a mound for two months before facing hitters for the first time.
That's a long time still, but he won't get there without taking Friday's first step.
"This was definitely the next step in the right direction, and hopefully we'll be taking another one soon," Zimmerman said.
Around the horn: During Friday's 9-9 tie game against the Angels, reliever Esteban Yan had to come out after splitting the nail on his right middle finger. The Rangers don't know how long he'll be out of action. ... Friday was the day randomly selected Rangers players took their first urine tests for steroids, and Zimmerman -- the player representative -- said all went smoothly. "Everyone was fine with it," Zimmerman said. "It took a little longer than we anticipated. It was a real thorough, diligent procedure." ... Friday's game was called when the Angels ran out of pitchers, and pitching coach Bud Black of the Angels had a proposal for Rangers pitching coach Orel Hershiser, according to manager Buck Showalter. "Bud told Orel, 'We'll play the top half of the 11th, but not the bottom.' " Obviously, the Rangers didn't buy that one.
Quoting 'em: "I played a lot of shortstop in the minor leagues, and I feel like I can go out and play shortstop for any period of time. With Alex Rodriguez at shortstop, my time at short is going to be extremely limited. This is why I take a lot of grounders at shortstop. In case Alex has to miss time, whether it's an inning or a game or two games or whatever, I can go over there and do the job." -- Rangers starting second baseman Michael Young, on filling in for Alex Rodriguez while the superstar shortstop recovers from a herniated disc.
More Opening Day tickets available: The Rangers announced that they will place an additional allotment of Opening Day tickets on sale Monday. The Rangers open the 2003 home season at The Ballpark in Arlington on Friday, April 4 vs. the Seattle Mariners in a 1:05 p.m. game.
The tickets were being held in reserve for new full season and partial plan sales and were not put on sale at the time 2003 individual sales began on February 1. Many of the tickets being placed on sale on Monday are located in The Ballpark's prime seating locations.
Tickets for the 2003 home opener and all home games can be purchased at the First Base Ticket Office at The Ballpark in Arlington, through the internet at texasrangers.com, by calling 817-273-5100, or by mail.
Buck says: "They really play both sides of the game. That's something we need to be better at." -- Rangers manager Buck Showalter on the way the Angels executed Friday and manufactured runs.
How's the weather? There was some cloudiness early in the day, but it wound up being another sunny afternoon in Surprise, temperature into the 80's. The clouds will stick around for the next few days, though -- and some rain could be on the way as early as Sunday.
Coming up: As Showalter said, "We get to see a lot of baseball." The Rangers will play a split doubleheader with a 2:05 p.m. CT game against Kansas City at Surprise, and a 8:05 p.m. CT game against the Brewers at Maryvale. Joaquin Benoit will start against the Royals, and Ismael Valdes will start against the Brewers.
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. The Associate Press contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
|By John Schlegel / MLB.com