CHICAGO -- Rangers manager Ron Washington went into last year's All-Star Game without the best pitching staff the American League could offer.
This year, it's different.
With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, all pitchers will be eligible to take the mound in the All-Star Game, where previously, pitchers who worked on the Sunday before were ineligible.
"Only disadvantage I thought I had last year was the best pitchers we had in the American League couldn't pitch," Washington said Tuesday before his Rangers opened a three-game series with the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. "So with the rule change, if they're able to pitch, I feel pretty comfortable."
The only AL All-Star pitcher who is scheduled to start Sunday is Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez. Washington said he spoke with the Mariners and got the OK to get an inning from Hernandez in the Midsummer Classic. White Sox left-hander Chris Sale also was scheduled to start, but the White Sox are skipping him to limit the youngster's innings, giving Washington a full staff.
Washington said he is talking to every pitching coach to see what they would like done, and is excited to have a full staff.
"I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that everyone that's there makes it through Sunday without any issues," Washington said. "And if they make it through Sunday without any issues, I love what I have."
Holland in the mix to start Saturday
CHICAGO -- Derek Holland knows he's pitching Saturday. The only question is where.
The left-hander, who is recovering from left shoulder and elbow fatigue, joined the Rangers in Chicago on Tuesday after tossing six innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock on Monday.
Holland surrendered three sixth-inning home runs in that outing, but said he used the final inning to work on his sinker, which he said was the only pitch he threw in the sixth.
After Monday's outing, Holland said he believes he's ready to return to the Rangers.
"I feel like I'm ready, but I can't make that call," Holland said. "I'm just telling them that I'm ready to go and it's up to those guys, what they want me to do, and I'm going to be ready for whatever they tell me to do."
Rangers manager Ron Washington said prior to Tuesday's game he and pitching coach Mike Maddux had yet to decide on Saturday's starting pitcher. If it's Holland, right-hander Yu Darvish would move up to start Friday. If Washington and Maddux don't think Holland is ready, left-hander Martin Perez would pitch Friday with Darvish going Saturday.
Washington did say he heard good things about Holland's rehab assignment.
"Had a rough sixth inning, but up until that point, everything was fine, so it's good," Washington said. "Got out of it healthy, got deep into the game and we'll see where he goes from there."
Holland is scheduled to throw his regular between-starts bullpen session on Wednesday, but Washington said how Holland performs won't factor into his decision for Saturday's starter.
Ogando, Feliz get back on the mound
CHICAGO -- Rangers right-handers Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz threw off the mound Tuesday for the first time since their injuries, with both pitchers looking "smooth," manager Ron Washington said.
"They certainly didn't air it out down there, but they got on the rubber," Washington said.
Ogando, who has been on the disabled list since June 12 (retroactive to June 11) with a strained groin, threw 32 pitches. Washington said Ogando threw all of his pitches, though it took him a while to get in a groove.
"Maybe the first 10, 11 of them you could see he was tentative pushing off his back leg, but after that he started getting down hill and driving pretty good," Washington said. "Once he finished, he was smiling, so he was happy with what he did and I was happy with what I saw."
Feliz, who has been on the DL since May 21 (retroactive to May 19) with right elbow inflammation, threw 28 pitches. Washington said Feliz also used all of his pitches and didn't feel any discomfort.
Feliz's recovery was thought to be behind Ogando and left-hander Koji Uehara's (strained lat muscle) but Washington said Feliz is progressing quicker than anticipated.
Ogando and Feliz are scheduled to throw another bullpen session Thursday, while Uehara is scheduled to throw his first on Wednesday.
"Just give them another bullpen in two days and continue to progress them there, then see where we go," Washington said of the right-handers.
Bell flying through farm system
ROUND ROCK, Texas -- Chad Bell knew he was pitching well. He just didn't know he was pitching this good.Bell, who began this season as a reliever in high Class A Myrtle Beach, is now a starter with Triple-A Round Rock. In his first two starts with the Express, he is 2-0 with a 0.72 ERA, tossing six scoreless innings in a 2-0 win over New Orleans on Sunday. Bell was 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in four relief outings at Myrtle Beach and 2-2 with a 2.84 ERA in 13 games, including seven starts, with Double-A Frisco. "It was a surprise when I got called up," Bell said. "I was throwing the ball well. But I didn't think it would be this fast. I knew, throwing the ball the way I was, it was a possibility. It definitely wasn't something I was expecting." In his first start with Round Rock, Bell, 23, gave up one run on five hits, striking out seven and walking four in 5 2/3 innings during a 3-1 win over Iowa. Bell, despite admitting that he didn't have his best stuff, was able to throw six shutout innings in his second start at the Triple-A level. "If the defense makes plays behind me like they did [Sunday], a lot can happen," Bell said. "I was still able to make some quality pitches down in the zone, working both sides of the plate. You're not always going to have your best stuff. You've just got to throw a few more offspeed pitches here and there, make sure you're ahead. That's what I did." The Rangers' 14th-round pick in 2009, Bell was "piggybacking" in Myrtle Beach, throwing every five days in relief of the same starting pitcher. While in Frisco, he began as a reliever but was moved to the rotation before getting called up to Round Rock on June 22. So far, the transition from the bullpen to the rotation was been a smooth one. "From last season to this season, I'm throwing more strikes," Bell said. "I don't have what'd you call an overpowering fastball by any means. Last year, I was a little too timid and got a little picky. I'm not trying to hit corners but just making sure I get it across the plate."
Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. Christian Corona is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.