HOUSTON -- Tommy Hunter threw 45 pitches without any problems in a pregame bullpen session on Saturday and is ready to start on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates."I threw well ... complete game, no-hitter," Hunter said. "No, I felt good. No problems. I'm good to go Tuesday." Hunter left his last start on Wednesday against the Marlins with a strained right hip flexor, pitching just 2 1/3 innings. The Rangers still haven't officially announced who will pitch on Wednesday, but Dustin Nippert appears to be the guy. That's Rich Harden's spot, but he's on the disabled list with a strained gluteus muscle. Nippert, coming out of the bullpen, started in that spot on Thursday in Florida and will likely start Wednesday unless he is needed in relief before then. Nippert, who went three innings and threw 74 pitches on Thursday, is still not available as a reliever for Saturday's game. But he could be available on Sunday and Tuesday. If the Rangers end up needing him in relief, they will likely call up Guillermo Moscoso from the Minors to pitch on Wednesday. "It falls on Moscoso's day, and we wouldn't hesitate to go to him if we need someone," general manager Jon Daniels said. "You know he'll throw strikes and compete. Basically, we've got to get healthy, and until we do, we'll lean on our depth. It was really encouraging to see the guys rally and get a win out of the 'pen game in Miami. You just don't want to have to do that too often." Moscoso is 3-2 with a 3.61 ERA in 10 outings with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Kinsler walking to high on-base percentage
HOUSTON -- Second baseman Ian Kinsler walked three times in Friday's 9-3 win over the Astros. He also had a single, raising his on-base percentage to .387. That would be the highest of his career.Kinsler's .327 on-base percentage in 2009 was the lowest of his career, and that was the focus of much talk in Spring Training. Now he's getting on base, although he has just one home run in 194 plate appearances, leaving him with a .358 slugging percentage. "It's something every year," Kinsler said. "Unless you hit .380 with a five million on-base percentage and 60 home runs, they'll find something wrong with you. The most important thing is to get on base, score runs and help the team win. "If you have a ring on your finger at the end of the season, you're not doing anything wrong." Kinsler is doing that. He took an eight-game hitting streak (11-for-29, .379) into Saturday's game with the Astros, and he is second in the American League in runs scored in the month of June. He trails only teammate Josh Hamilton. "I'm still working on things and trying to get better," said Kinsler, who missed the first month of the season with a sprained right ankle that still impacts his ability to get out of the batter's box. "I'm trying to find something to be consistent with. Right now, I've found something and hopefully I can stick with it. "It's not really finding something but just being comfortable and trusting yourself."
Holland dealing with issues in right knee
HOUSTON -- Derek Holland has a subluxation in his right knee. That basically means his kneecap popped out and popped back in again. It's a similar injury to what Holland experienced in Spring Training that set him back a couple of weeks.Holland, who was already on the disabled list with inflammation in his left shoulder, is scheduled to have an MRI on Monday, but the Rangers are hoping that he'll be able to start throwing again at some point next week. "His shoulder seems to be 100 percent, but the knee may slow him down a bit," general manager Jon Daniels said.
Murphy satisfied he'll still get playing time
HOUSTON -- David Murphy started in right field on Saturday night for the Rangers. Vladimir Guerrero will start there on Sunday. Nelson Cruz (torn hamstring muscle) will be activated off the disabled list on Tuesday.At that point, Murphy will be back in his role as a fourth outfielder. That was his role coming out of Spring Training, but he still has had plenty of playing time. Saturday was his 41st start out of 68 games. He is sixth on the team with 176 at-bats. "I'm getting my chance to contribute," Murphy said. "Going forward from here ... I guess we're going back to the beginning. We'll see what happens. But I'm as happy as anybody Nelson is coming back. Our offense will be clicking and he's a huge part of it." Murphy went into Saturday's game hitting .333 in his past 10 games and .318 in his past 19 games. "He has been as important as anybody in that lineup," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He has got big hits and big walks and he plays great defense. He fits in perfectly. We're very fortunate to have David Murphy. He's a good teammate, a guy who is always ready. He doesn't complain. He just plays baseball." Cruz was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in his first game on a rehabilitation assignment on Friday night with Triple-A Oklahoma City. He is expected to play Saturday and Sunday and, if all goes well, rejoin the Rangers on Tuesday.
Neftali Feliz is available in the bullpen for Saturday's game. The Rangers gave him Friday off after three straight outings in Florida. ... The Pirates are now listing Ross Ohlendorf on Tuesday, Paul Maholm on Wednesday and Jeff Karstens on Thursday for the three-game series with the Rangers next week at the Ballpark in Arlington. ... The Rangers' longest road winning streak is nine games. That was back in July to August of 1977. They had a seven-game winning streak in 1979.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.