Notes: Loe thinks he's close
Rangers righty remains confident despite struggles
ARLINGTON -- Kameron Loe, thus far, has not been the starter he believes he can be. But he doesn't think he's that far off, either."I know I can do this," Loe said Wednesday. "It's been a little bit of a bumpy road so far, but I know [the starting rotation] is where I want to be, and this is where I should be. "I still think that will become very apparent to everyone else soon." Loe's confidence remains unshaken, despite the fact that his 7-1 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday night left him 1-5 with an 8.34 ERA in his past 10 starts dating to last June 8. The Rangers are 3-7 in those 10 starts, in which Loe has averaged just fewer than five innings per start, has 16 walks against 31 strikeouts and has allowed opposing hitters to bat .324 against him. Loe was the Rangers' best pitcher, statistically speaking, during Spring Training, and he was disappointed when told he would start the year in the bullpen. But when right-hander Jamey Wright reported shoulder trouble after just one start, Loe got his shot to rejoin the rotation. He won his first start, a 7-0 shutout of Oakland on April 21 in which he worked 5 1/3 scoreless innings. But Loe has been winless in the nearly five weeks since, going 1-3 with a 6.42 ERA in his six starts this season. The numbers beg the question of whether Loe is best suited to be a starting pitcher. But with Wright and Kevin Millwood on the disabled list and the Rangers still uncertain who their fifth starter will be next Tuesday, it is a question not being asked too persistently at the moment. "I have confidence in Kameron, and we have had no discussions about moving him from the rotation," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We've had patience with everyone we've put out there, and it's no different with him." Loe's performance Tuesday was spoiled by two pitches poorly executed against reigning American League MVP Justin Morneau. Twice with the count at 3-1, Loe left a pitch up in the strike zone and Morneau punished him with a two-run homer in the fourth and a three-run shot in the fifth. They were the only runs Loe allowed. "I think he's got starter stuff," Rangers catcher Gerald Laird said. "He just needs to work ahead more and put guys away." "That's been his problem," Washington concurred. "It's been one bad inning or two bad innings where he's made some mistakes that have cost him." Youth no longer is a viable excuse to Washington. Loe turns 26 in September, and Tuesday's start was the 31st of his career -- nearly the equivalent of one full season. "I wouldn't say he's 'inexperienced,'" Washington said. That means Loe is expected to execute and take advantage of his time in the role he craved. Loe said he expects nothing less of himself. "I did so many more things right than wrong [Tuesday night]," Loe said. "That might make it a little more frustrating to lose, but it's also encouraging that I have so much less to work on. It's been a little frustrating, but I definitely feel that I'm right on the verge of winning ballgames consistently." Sosa sits: Rangers slugger Sammy Sosa was out of the starting lineup Wednesday, despite having hit career home run No. 598 on Tuesday night. The homer was Sosa's first against Twins ace Johan Santana, who became Sosa's 362nd different homer victim. Washington said Sosa will play all three games of the weekend series with Boston that concludes the homestand, but he said he could not let his desire to see Sosa reach the 600-homer milestone at home affect how he manages the 38-year-old. "Sammy's no spring chicken," Washington said. "I'm going to try to get him two days a week off. He and [center fielder] Kenny [Lofton, who turns 40 next week] need days off once in a while. I know people would like Sammy to hit 600 here, and I would like for him to hit them here. But we're thinking about Sammy for the long haul." Millwood throws: Millwood tested his strained left hamstring with his first light throwing session from a mound since returning to the disabled list last week. Millwood missed 15 days with his initial injury, then reinjured the muscle in a different spot during the second inning of his first start back on May 14. Millwood is eligible to be activated next Wednesday in Oakland, but there are no guarantees he will be ready. "We thought he was ready last time and he wasn't, so this time we're going to be extra precautious," Washington said. "We want him back for the rest of the year, not to have to go through this again. He's dying not to be able to help the team, and we're dying for him to help the team. But we'll be 100 percent sure he's ready before he comes back." Game time changed: The start time of Saturday's Red Sox-Rangers game, originally set for 2:55 p.m. CT, has been changed to 7:05 p.m. The game originally was going to be televised as part of Fox Sports' national package, but now it will be shown locally on my27. Tuesday's Minor stars: The top three performances from the Rangers' Minor League teams on Tuesday were: Gold: Double-A Frisco starter Luis Mendoza improved to 4-0 by allowing two runs in seven innings of an 8-2 victory over Wichita. Mendoza allowed five hits, no walks and struck out six. Silver: Veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd hit his sixth home run in Triple-A Oklahoma's 8-3 loss to Omaha. Byrd is batting .360 with 31 RBIs in 44 games. Bronze: Former first-round pick John Mayberry Jr. hit his 13th home run for Class A Bakersfield and drove in two runs in a 3-2 triumph over Rancho Cucamonga. Mayberry is batting .228 with 39 RBIs in the Blaze's 45 games. Briefly: Mark Teixeira started as the designated hitter on Wednesday, and he was replaced at first base by Matt Kata, giving Teixeira's legs a bit of relief. Washington said Teixeira requested a DH game last weekend. ... Frank Catalanotto was Washington's first choice to start at first in place of Teixeira, but he remains unable to throw because of his tender right shoulder. ... Outfielder Brad Wilkerson (strained hamstring) is eligible to return for the May 31 series opener in Seattle, but Washington said that seemed optimistic. "Hamstrings are nothing to mess around with," Washington said, indicating Wilkerson probably will play some Minor League rehab games before returning. ... Wright pitched five innings at the team's extended spring camp in Surprise, Ariz., and he will stretch out a bit longer on Saturday in hopes of returning soon in a starting role. Up next: The Rangers are off Thursday before opening a three-game series against the Red Sox on Friday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Right-hander Brandon McCarthy (4-4, 5.82 ERA) is scheduled to face Japanese sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka (6-2, 4.06 ERA) in Friday's series opener at 7:05 p.m. CT.
Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.