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07/12/08 7:47 PM ET
Rangers' injured starters progressing
Texas hopes pitchers will rejoin rotation in second half
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Texas' pitching staff has been hit hard by injuries. Here is the latest on the Rangers' attempts to get their second-half rotation settled by the time they open a three-game series against the Twins on Friday in Minnesota: Vicente Padilla is reporting some improvement with the strained muscle in the right side of his neck. Padilla, who was placed on the disabled list Wednesday, retroactive to July 5, is scheduled to throw on the side on Monday and again on Thursday in Minnesota. That will give the Rangers an indication if he can come off the disabled list and pitch the following Sunday against the Twins. Eric Hurley, on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, is scheduled to pitch Monday for Double-A Frisco on a rehabilitation assignment. If that goes well, he could start the second game after the break on Saturday against the Twins. Kevin Millwood is scheduled to start the first game of that series. Matt Harrison gets a second chance to earn a spot in the second-half rotation when he pitches against the White Sox on Sunday. Harrison was impressive in his Major League debut on Tuesday, when he went seven innings to beat the Angels, 3-2, at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. "It was a good first start," pitching coach Mark Connor said. "He located the ball well, came out of the gate with his changeup and the second time through the lineup he mixed up his pitches. He showed good mound poise. It was pretty impressive." Luis Mendoza made his case for a spot in the second-half rotation with six strong innings in a 7-2 victory over the White Sox. Mendoza needed a good outing, and Connor told him that in a pregame meeting. Mendoza had failed to pitch more than five innings in his five previous starts and was gone in less than two innings in two of those starts. "Basically, I told him he needed to get it going," Connor said. "That's what we wanted to see from a guy we have high hopes for being a big part of our rotation." The Rangers are still pondering the possibility of pulling Scott Feldman out of the rotation to reduce his workload. Connor said that's one option, and the other could be to use him as a fifth starter, using off-days to skip him or push him back in the rotation as the schedule warrants. Kason Gabbard is in limbo, Connor said. He is on the disabled list with inflammation in his left elbow and has been shut down from throwing. It will be a while before he's an option again. Long-forgotten Brandon McCarthy, on the disabled list with severe inflammation in his right elbow, began a medical rehabilitation assignment with the Arizona League Rangers. He threw 25 pitches over two innings. He'll basically increase his workload by 15-17 pitches while pitching every fifth day. He could be an option for the Major League staff by the middle of August.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.