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07/27/09 7:32 PM ET

Millwood to keep his Friday start

Francisco getting close to returning to bullpen

ARLINGTON -- Kevin Millwood doesn't expect to miss Friday's start against the Mariners, and Frank Francisco could soon be returning to the Rangers' bullpen.

Millwood left Sunday's start against the Royals after two innings with a strained left gluteus muscle. He has been receiving treatment.

"It feels a little bit better than yesterday," Millwood said. "I don't think it'll keep me out longer. I just couldn't stop myself [while pitching]. I couldn't pitch well if I was landing on my face every pitch."

He plans to take it day-to-day. The Rangers expect to know more by Tuesday. Dustin Nippert, who pitched 4 2/3 innings in relief of Millwood Sunday, would likely be the option to go to should Millwood not be available.

"He doesn't seem to think it's serious," manager Ron Washington said. "In those four days [between starts], maybe we can calm it down enough."

The Rangers placed Francisco on the 15-day disabled list on July 20 after he returned from the All-Star break with mild pneumonia.

Francisco was eligible to return on Sunday because the move was made retroactive to July 11. He said he's healthy other than a slight cough, but he doesn't think he needs to throw much to be able to return to game form.

Washington said it was unlikely Francisco would be activated during the Tigers series.

Daniel Paulling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.