CINCINNATI -- Left-hander Ron Mahay returned to the Rangers bullpen on Friday after being activated off the disabled list, and right-hander Scott Feldman was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma.

Mahay had been sidelined for a month with a strained oblique muscle, a rest that seemed longer than anticipated.

"It has been a long time," Mahay said. "Obviously, longer than I expected. I had never been injured before as a pitcher, and usually, hitters are the ones that get this kind of injury. It didn't know how long it would take. It was all new to me. For a while, I couldn't move my non-pitching arm over my head, and I was having a hard time breathing."

Mahay had made 13 appearances for the Rangers before hurting himself playing catch in the outfield, and had a 3.86 ERA. But he had also walked 15 in 16 1/3 innings while striking out 12.

He made seven appearances during a rehab assignment and had a 5.91 ERA while allowing 15 hits, five walks and nine strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings between Double-A Frisco and Oklahoma.

The Rangers will use Mahay as a middle/long reliever more than they will in situational lefty vs. lefty matchups. The Rangers have two left-handers in the bullpen, but manager Ron Washington has not been keen on running his left-handed relievers in for one or two batters at a time.

"Every time I do that, it doesn't work," Washington said. "I'm not saying I'm not going to do it. If the situation dictates it, I'll do it. I just haven't had any success at it. Maybe it's me. Every time I bring in a left-hander to face a left-hander, he either gives up a hit or a walk."

Feldman was sent down with a record of 1-2 and a 6.66 ERA.

Botts delivers: Jason Botts has delivered one hit for the Rangers this season. It was his bat that Kameron Loe was using when he singled in the eighth inning of Thursday's 6-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"When I was down in Triple-A, he gave me his bat, and said there were a couple of knocks in it," Loe said.

Botts isn't getting the bat back.

"I'm keeping that one," said Loe, who has the baseball as well. It's the fourth baseball he has kept from a Major League game. He has the balls from his first strikeout, his first Major League win and his first Major League win as a starter.

Running the basepaths: Loe finished with a walk and a double in three plate appearances on Thursday. Washington wasn't really thrilled to see his starting pitcher run the bases, especially when Loe slid hard into second base trying to break up a double play in the third inning.

"I told him he's not supposed to do that," Washington said. "I told him he's supposed to do what others do, and that's tear off and tear out to right field."

Jamey Wright, one of the better hitting pitchers in the game, said, "It's a fun experience, getting on the basepaths for the first time. My first time, I hit a double, slid into second base and tore cartilage in my rib cage. Three surgeries later, I feel great."

National League ambivalence: Washington expressed some ambivalence about managing under National League rules, as the designated hitter isn't used and pitchers have to hit.

The good part?

"The game moves faster, and everybody has to stay involved," he said. "I just love the atmosphere of National League baseball."

The bad part is that not having a DH means he has to sit somebody who should be in the lineup. Washington wanted to play Sammy Sosa in right field on Friday, but that meant sitting Marlon Byrd and his .386 batting average.

"It makes it tough to make out a lineup," Washington said. "In the American League, I can always use the DH."

Metcalf sits for one: With right-hander Matt Belisle on the mound for the Reds, Travis Metcalf was out of the lineup on Friday, one day after hitting a home run for his first Major League hit. The Reds have right-handers pitching on Saturday and Sunday, but Washington said he's planning on using Metcalf on Saturday, at the least.

"I'm not going to sit the kid three straight days," Washington said. "He's going to be up here for two weeks at least. He'll play against some righties."

He said it: "These guys are capable of doing it. It's a matter of getting it done. It doesn't matter how they have been pitching or what their ERA is, they're still capable of getting it done." -- Washington, on his starting rotation

Thursday's Minors stars:
Gold: Right-hander J.B. Diaz pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out three, in Bakersfield's 12-0 victory over Inland Empire.

Silver: Eric Hurley is 7-1 with a 2.55 ERA after pitching Frisco to a 6-1 victory over Corpus Christi. He allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out four.

Bronze: Kevin Mahar hit a three-run homer to give Oklahoma a 3-1 victory over Albuquerque. Mahar is now hitting .301.

Support kids, get a ticket: This weekend the Rangers are supporting Wendy's Family Frosty Weekend. In conjunction with Father's Day, Wendy's will donate a portion of every Frosty product purchased in the Metroplex on June 16 and 17 to Wendy's Wonderful Kids.

This program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption funds dedicated recruiters who find families for children in foster care across the U.S. In addition to supporting the foundation, customers who purchase a Frosty product during Father's Day weekend will receive a "buy one, get one" coupon for an upcoming home game.

The coupon is redeemable in person or online, and is valid for tickets regularly priced up to $31. The offer is valid for regular-season home games excluding June 19-24, July 4 and Sept. 22.

Briefly: Reliever Wes Littleton, who has a 4.15 ERA, could be the leading candidate to be sent down when Wright is activated off the disabled list on Saturday. The Rangers will also have to make a 40-man roster move because Wright is on the 60-day disabled list, not the 40-man.

Up next: Wright pitches against former Rangers prospect Aaron Harang in the second game of the three-game series at 6:10 p.m. CT on Saturday at Great American Ball Park. Harang, a sixth-round Draft pick for the Rangers out of San Diego State in 1999, was traded to the Oakland Athletics for second baseman Randy Velarde on Nov. 17, 1999.