ARLINGTON -- The Rangers, with a week to go before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, are looking for a "difference-maker" for their rotation, according to industry sources.That's why Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels and Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke had been at the top of their list. The Rangers had discussions with both teams as well as any other team that has starting pitching to trade before next Tuesday. The Rangers have also scouted Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson. The Rangers have a rotation that includes left-handers Derek Holland and Matt Harrison and right-hander Yu Darvish. They lost Colby Lewis for the season with a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow, but are expecting Roy Oswalt to return to the rotation on Sunday after skipping a start with tightness in his lower back. Scott Feldman beat the Red Sox, 9-1, on Tuesday night by holding them to one run in seven innings, and Alexi Ogando could be moved to the rotation. What all that means is the Rangers aren't trying to fill a hole in their rotation. They have enough pitchers to fill out their rotation. The Rangers are looking for a pitcher who could do what Cliff Lee did for them in 2010, and that is make a difference when it comes to the playoffs. Hamels would be at the top of their list, but the Phillies signed him to a long-term contract extension on Wednesday. The Brewers have also tried to re-sign Greinke, but he appears more interested in becoming a free agent after the season. He started on Tuesday against the Phillies after being skipped in his last start because the Brewers felt he needed extra rest. Greinke can be a free agent at the end of the season and, under the new Basic Agreement rules, the Rangers would not get Draft-pick compensation if he signs with another team. That will not deter the Rangers from making a trade if they believe the pitcher can make a difference in the playoffs. There have been rumors that the Phillies might be willing to trade Lee, who is in the second season of a five-year, $120 million contract. But that contract is backloaded, as Lee is due $75 million over the next three seasons, and the Rangers wouldn't want to do something unless the Phillies picked up part of that. There are no indications of that being the case.
Kinsler ejected after getting picked off first base
ARLINGTON -- Second baseman Ian Kinsler was ejected for the second time this season during the Rangers' 2-1 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday night at the Ballpark in Arlington.Kinsler was ejected in the first inning by first-base umpire Tim Tschida after getting picked off by Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz. Kinsler reached after getting hit by a pitch. Buchholz then picked him off, Tschida called him out and Kinsler objected. That resulted in a quick ejection. "Sometimes you say one word to the umpire and that's it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Alberto Gonzalez took over at second base, appearing in a game for the first time since July 3. Kinsler's other ejection was on June 14 against the D-backs.
Oswalt expects to start Sunday vs. White Sox
ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Roy Oswalt said he is "100 percent better" and expects to return to the rotation on Sunday against the White Sox. He was skipped in his last start because of tightness in his lower back.Oswalt was examined on Monday by Dr. Mike McCann, a Houston back specialist who has treated him for the past several years. Oswalt received an injection to relieve the inflammation in a joint in his lower back. "Today it's 100 percent better," Oswalt said before the Rangers' game on Tuesday against the Red Sox. "Sometimes this creeps up on me. I used to try and be a hero and I would miss three or four starts. I felt it in my last bullpen [session]. It wasn't terrible, but I could feel it. This is more maintenance than anything." Oswalt said he has been throwing a lot during his bullpen sessions between starts, trying to work on his mechanics. He said he may have overdone it and that caused the latest flareup. Oswalt is scheduled to throw a light bullpen session on Friday in preparation for Sunday's start. The Rangers signed Oswalt at the end of May to add to their pitching depth. His importance is growing now that Colby Lewis is out for the season with a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow and Neftali Feliz is still sidelined with a sprained right elbow. "Because of his experience, we certainly could use the innings we know he can give us," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "But every single guy we have in that rotation is important. We're not going to put any more importance on one guy over the others. I'm taking it one start at a time. We're going to give him the ball on Sunday if he has no setbacks and see how he recovers for his next start. That's as far as I'm thinking." Oswalt has made five starts for the Rangers and is 3-1 with a 5.22 ERA.
Ogando could be moved to Rangers' rotation
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are giving serious thought to returning reliever Alexi Ogando to the rotation to help make up for the loss of Colby Lewis, who will miss the rest of the season with a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow."That's something that we've discussed," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "If we do that, we've got to find a way to get him stretched out." Right now, the Rangers have Scott Feldman filling Lewis' spot in the rotation. Martin Perez, who started against the Red Sox on Tuesday, will shift to the bullpen. Feldman held the Red Sox to one run in seven innings in a 9-1 victory on Monday. Feldman is scheduled to pitch again on Monday against the Angels. The July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline is the following day. If the Rangers can't make a trade for starting pitching help, then they will consider putting Ogando into the rotation. "That's my wish, you know that," Ogando said. "I'd like to start." The Rangers would need to reinforce their bullpen if they move Ogando to the rotation. They could make a trade or they could put Neftali Feliz in the bullpen when he is ready to come off the disabled list. They could also have Mark Lowe ready to come off the disabled list before the Trade Deadline. But they would like to strengthen their bullpen before moving Ogando to the rotation. "If we can't and we decide to do it, we'll do it," Washington said. Ogando was 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA as a starter in 2011 before returning to the bullpen this season. The Rangers moved him to the rotation on June 10 and he threw three scoreless innings against the Giants. But he had to leave the game in the top of the fourth after sustaining a strained right groin muscle running the bases. He was activated a week ago and has allowed three runs in three innings over four games. "He's been good and not so good," Washington said. "That's to be expected. The velocity is there and his slider looks like it has come back a little bit. It's a matter of him seeing batters. As long as he's healthy, I'm comfortable Ogando will figure it out."
Lowe progressing quicker than Uehara
ARLINGTON -- Mark Lowe could be ready to return to the Rangers' bullpen before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Koji Uehara cannot say the same thing.Lowe, on the disabled list with a strained intercoastal muscle in his right rib cage, threw 35 pitches in the bullpen without a problem on Tuesday. It was his second session in the bullpen. The first was on Sunday in Anaheim. "Today was better than the first one as far as repeating my delivery," Lowe said. "I threw a lot of good pitches and felt fine." The plan is for Lowe to throw another bullpen session on Thursday. If that goes well, he could pitch for Double-A Frisco on a medical rehabilitation assignment as early as Sunday. He could be activated after just one outing. "You never know how that will go, but I'm planning on just one," Lowe said. Uehara played catch on Tuesday, throwing for the first time since the Rangers were in Oakland last week. He is still feeling tightness in his lat muscle in his right rib cage and is not close to throwing off a mound. He could be another couple of weeks. "That's a finicky thing that Koji has," manager Ron Washington said. "The medical staff thinks we need to slow it down."
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.