ARLINGTON -- Struggling left-hander Cliff Lee will finally get an extra days' rest between starts. In fact, manager Ron Washington said the entire starting rotation will get an extra day after Thursday's day off between trips to Kansas City and Minnesota.
It has the most impact on Lee, who the Rangers have been pitching every five days, regardless of off days, since trading for the ace in July. Lee has struggled in his past four starts, especially the past two losses to Minnesota and Baltimore, which combined for 13 runs against him in 10 2/3 innings.
Lee, who will start Tuesday at Kansas City and then next Sept6, at Toronto, said he was fine by the decision. He's pitched his whole career getting an extra day here or there because of a scheduled day off.
"Why not?" Lee said. "It's not really that big of deal. An extra day can only be a good thing at this point in the season."
The change in the rotation means Rich Harden will start Friday's series opener in Minnesota, followed by Colby Lewis and C.J. Wilson. Lee will now miss the Twins and face a Blue Jays team he hasn't pitched against this season. Lee is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA in his past three starts at Toronto's Rogers Centre.
Healthy Cruz set to return, start Monday
ARLINGTON -- With his left hamstring healthy, Nelson Cruz will start in right field Monday night in Kansas City. He'll come off the 15-day disabled list on time -- something that didn't happen after his previous stint, when he missed 21 games because of the same strained left hamstring injury.
"The last time, he might have to taken a whole week off before he started swinging and torquing," manager Ron Washington said. "He never stopped torquing this time. This time, he was able to stay in action and continue to work."
Cruz was 3-for-15 in the four games after his second DL stint May 29-June 21. But the expectation is that since he went on the DL more for precautionary reasons this time, he should pick up where he left off when he got hurt. Cruz was on a 7-for-19 tear and hit a game-winning home run in a dramatic comeback win over Boston.
Cruz was 1-for-3 with a stolen base in his final rehab game with Double-A Frisco on Thursday, when the emphasis was on swiping a base.
"They just put me on the DL to make sure," Cruz said. "I feel good. I was able to do some first to third. I got to see some pitches and run."
Cruz will be a welcomed addition to the Rangers' lineup.
"It gives us another threat, another presence," Washington said. "It gives Vlad [Guerrero] protection. He's a very important piece. We hope he comes back all fired up and ready to go."
Rangers use caution with injured Francisco
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said he would like to have injured reliever Frank Francisco back in two weeks, but there's no doubt the club will proceed with caution, as they have with other injured players this month.
Francisco had an MRI on Sunday and the results showed inflammation, but no tear, with a strained muscle in his right rib cage. The Rangers would at least like to have Francisco back in the final week of the season, so he can get tuned up for a possible postseason berth.
"He's a short guy," Washington said. "It's not like he has to be stretched out. We can simulate an inning. We can simulate two innings."
Right-hander Scott Feldman (bone bruise in right knee) threw on flat ground Sunday and will throw a bullpen session in Kansas City on Monday. ... Manager Ron Washington said decisions on any additions when rosters expand to 40 players on Wednesday will be made on the road trip. Washington said the main addition will be players off the disabled list.
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.