NEW YORK -- The Rangers have placed pitcher Tanner Scheppers on the disabled list at Triple-A Round Rock with stiffness in his lower back.
Scheppers has had the problem since the beginning of Spring Training, and he had to come out of Saturday night's game against New Orleans. Scheppers, ranked 43rd on the MLB.com list of top 50 prospects, worked two innings Saturday and allowed three runs on four hits and no walks with three strikeouts.
"After yesterday's outing, he still felt some issues in his back," Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "Rather than have him continuing to throw, we're going to take a step back and invest in a core-strengthening and flexibility routine so when he comes back, he doesn't have these maintenance issues.
"We've talked about sending him to Arizona and work on his core-strengthening routine there. There is nothing structural wrong, just a recurrence of some stiffness. We're not comfortable having him pitch through it -- we want to knock this out once and for all."
Eric Hurley is coming off the disabled list for Round Rock on Monday after being sidelined for a week with a viral infection.
Webb open to bullpen role with Rangers
NEW YORK -- Rangers pitcher Brandon Webb threw 70 pitches in the bullpen on Sunday afternoon. Afterward, Webb said he would be willing to work out of the bullpen as a reliever if that's what the Rangers need when he gets back."I would do it," Webb said. "I would rather start, but if it's a chance to pitch, I'd do it." Webb, who hasn't pitched in a Major League game in more than two years because of a shoulder injury, was signed as a starter by the Rangers in the winter. He won the National League Cy Young Award in 2006 and was a 22-game winner in '08. But he is still four to six weeks away from completing his comeback, and the Rangers' rotation has been very good lately. Texas' starting staff went into Sunday's game with a 2.63 ERA, second lowest in the American League. Right now there is no room for Webb, Tommy Hunter or Scott Feldman -- three successful big league starters who are all on the disabled list. Webb's first appearance in the big leagues with the D-backs was a reliever. He pitched one scoreless inning, and since then, he has made 198 straight starts. The only other two appearances as a reliever were in the All-Star Game in 2006 and '08. "Whenever I'm ready to go, we'll re-evaluate it then and where I fit," Webb said. "I don't make that call." General manager Jon Daniels said it's way too early to worry about where any of the Rangers' injured pitchers will slot in when they return. None are expected to be back within a month. Webb's next step will be batting practice in Arlington on Friday. After that he might be assigned to extended Spring Training in Arizona, where he would start pitching in games. Feldman (knee surgery) and Hunter (strained groin muscle) are still on throwing programs. Feldman is throwing off a mound in Arizona, while Hunter is still throwing on flat ground in Arlington. He could move to the mound later this week and join Feldman in Arizona.
Lewis' impending return will force roster move
NEW YORK -- Colby Lewis returns from paternity leave on Monday, and the Rangers will have to make a roster move. Michael Kirkman was called up on Friday to replace Lewis, but may not be the one going back to Triple-A.The Rangers could send Mark Lowe down instead. Lowe has allowed four runs on seven hits in his last 3 1/3 innings. General manager Jon Daniels declined to discuss the options, but he did admit it's not automatic that Kirkman will be sent down. "We'll sit down and discuss it," Daniels said. When Lewis returns, the Rangers will have five starters and eight relievers. They might drop a reliever and add an extra position player, but they don't seem to be in any hurry right now. Backup infielder Andres Blanco has played in just two games and Chris Davis has yet to be in a game since being called up on Friday.
Napoli set to start at backstop on Monday
NEW YORK -- Mike Napoli will be behind the plate for the Rangers on Monday, when they face the Angels -- Napoli's former team -- at Ballpark in Arlington. It's the first regular-season game for Napoli against the Angels."It's his turn to catch," manager Ron Washington said. Napoli started at first base on Sunday for the fourth time. Monday will be his fourth start at catcher. At that point, Napoli will have played in half of the Rangers' first 16 games. Washington would like to increase the number of games Napoli catches as the season goes along, mainly to keep Yorvit Torrealba productive through the hot Texas summer. "I haven't really put a number on it," Washington said. "My intention is to try and get him back-to-back days when I do play him. I have no plans to wear Yorvit Torrealba down. I don't think Yorvit knows what that heat in Texas is like. "I'm in a good spot having two quality catchers. As we get deeper into the season, I'm going to get more repetitions out of Napoli. I'm working this the best I can." Napoli spent the last five years with the Angels splitting time at catcher with Jeff Mathis before moving to first base last season on May 30, when Kendrys Morales broke his ankle. Napoli started 67 games at first base. This is the first time he has been switched back and forth between catcher and first base. "It has been kind of tough, but I go catch [other pitchers] in the bullpen to try and stay fresh, and I take as many ground balls at first base as I can," Napoli said. "I'm sure everybody comes to the ballpark wanting to play every day. But I see my role. When I get in there, I'm prepared to play. When I'm not, I do the things I need to do to stay fresh."
The Rangers will likely delay announcing the signing of Cuban outfielder Leonys Martin. He is still being processed through the customs and immigration, and it could be beyond this week before he is ready to play for the Rangers. Outfielder Joey Butler is 3-for-14 in three games with Round Rock since being promoted from Double-A Frisco. He was promoted when Chris Davis was called to the big leagues to replace Josh Hamilton. The Rangers have moved pitcher Ramon Aguero from Round Rock to Frisco. Aguero was recently claimed on waivers from the Pirates and has not allowed a run in three games -- two in Round Rock and one in Frisco. He has allowed just one hit, but walked four. Aguero is in the same bullpen with right-hander Fabio Castillo, who allowed five runs in one-third of an inning on Thursday. That was Aguero's first outing after being activated off the disabled list. He is on the 40-man roster, but missed most of Spring Training with a stress fracture in his left foot.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.