04/06/2013 8:46 PM ET
One shy of 300 saves, Nathan wants to reach 400
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Joe Nathan earned his first save of the season on Friday, throwing a scoreless ninth inning in the Rangers' 3-2 victory over the Angels. The save was also Nathan's 299th of his career.
He needs one more to become the 24th reliever in Major League history with 300 saves. Only five pitchers have 400 saves and that appears to be Nathan's goal.
"I'm still going out there, grinding and competing," Nathan said. "It's one closer to 400. It's all about competing and helping get us closer to where we want to be and that's back to the postseason."
Nathan has made two appearances in the Rangers' first four games. He struck out the side in a 4-0 victory over the Astros on Wednesday but it wasn't that easy on Friday against the Angels going up against their best hitters. Albert Pujols flied out to deep left and Josh Hamilton lined to center. Nathan walked Mark Trumbo but got Howie Kendrick on a fly to deep center to end the game.
"Yesterday was not easy by any means," Nathan said before Saturday's game against the Angels. "Obviously, there were some balls hit to the wall. The last one by Kendrick was hit the best; the first two kind of got hit off the end of the bat."
Nathan said he is still going through a little "dead arm" period and his velocity is not quite as good as it should be. But he said his location and movement have been good so far.
"It's still early to say that I'm off to a good start," Nathan said. "Hopefully, they will continue to get better and I can continue to progress."
Pierzynski wants to be in lineup every day
ARLINGTON -- A.J. Pierzynski was back in the lineup for the fifth straight game as the Rangers' starting catcher against the Angels on Saturday afternoon. The Rangers were off on Monday and Thursday, so Pierzynski hasn't started on five straight days.
Manager Ron Washington still hasn't decided when Geovany Soto will get his first start. Pierzynski is the first Rangers catcher to start the first four games of the season since Gerald Laird in 2008.
"I said from Day 1 I wish they'd let me play every day, but that's unrealistic," Pierzynski said. "The weather is cool right now and we're facing a run of right-handed pitching, Wash is letting me go. But Geovany has to play and get his at-bats, too. He is very capable of playing and playing very well. When they put me in, I'll play. I won't ask to play or not play, when they ask me to play, I'll play."
At this point, Pierzynski has been able to catch all the Rangers pitchers and get a feel for what they do. He did not catch Tanner Scheppers in Spring Training but has worked with him in his two appearances so far this season. Pierzynski said he is still learning his pitchers.
"It's always a work in progress," Pierzynski said. "You never feel completely comfortable. Any day something new can pop up. It's not like science; it's a fluid situation and changes every day. That's what makes the game more fun."
Martin learns lesson about umpires
ARLINGTON -- Leonys Martin got his first hit of the season on Saturday afternoon. He also had his first spat with an umpire and learned that veteran umpires generally don't like to hear from rookies.
Martin was batting with one out in the fifth against Angels pitcher Tommy Hanson. He was ahead 1-0 in the count and Hanson threw a slider toward the outside corner that Wally Bell called a strike.
Martin objected and Bell reacted. He took his mask off and started lecturing Martin.
"I understand I'm fairly new around here," Martin said. "I was just in disagreement with him. I'm just trying to do my job and help the team."
Manager Ron Washington came out and interceded before Martin got into worse trouble. Martin stayed in the game and grounded out. His first hit was a single in the seventh.
"I didn't want Martin to get thrown out," Washington said. "Wally was going at it and Martin was going at it. Martin is competing and he thought the pitch was a ball. I'm not going to stop him from competing but I didn't want him getting thrown out."
Tepesch gearing up for big league debut
ARLINGTON -- Pitcher Nick Tepesch, who is officially assigned to Triple-A Round Rock, was at the Ballpark in Arlington on Saturday to throw his between-starts bullpen session. Tepesch threw approximately 40 pitches and is still scheduled to make his Major League debut on Tuesday against the Rays.
Tepesch said the anticipation is starting to build a little bit but, "I'm trying not to treat it differently than any other game -- try to keep it as routine as possible."
Tepesch, the club's No. 18 prospect according to MLB.com, won the fifth spot in Spring Training despite allowing eight runs in five innings against the Rockies in his last Cactus League start on March 22. Since then, he has made two starts in Minor League games for Round Rock.
He pitched six innings in Arizona against Tucson on March 27, allowing two runs in six innings. He also started for Round Rock in its season opener on Thursday and allowed one unearned run over five innings in a 3-1 win over Omaha.
"I just commanded my pitches for the most part," Tepesch said. "I commanded my fastball and got a lot of ground balls."
Tepesch, who came to camp as a non-roster invite, is not yet on either the 25-man or the 40-man roster. The Rangers must do that before Tuesday night. At that point, the Rangers will have to make a decision on outfielder Julio Borbon, who is out of options. The Rangers will have to either trade him or get him through outright waivers.
Moreland gets off the schneid with home run
ARLINGTON -- Mitch Moreland hit .388 during Spring Training but went into Saturday's game with the Angels looking for his first hit. Moreland was 0-for-13 with a sacrifice fly in the Rangers' first four games.
"I just think at times he gets a little too big with his swing," manager Ron Washington said before Moreland hit a towering solo home run in the third inning against Tommy Hanson. "It seems like he's got to get back to shortening it. Spring Training is a totally different animal than the regular season."
Washington pinch-hit for Moreland in the eighth inning of Friday's home opener in a 2-2 game. Craig Gentry singled with one out off of left-hander Scott Downs so Washington sent right-handed hitter Jeff Baker to the plate.
"In that situation, Downs is tough on left-handers," Washington said. "Sometimes I'll pull [Moreland] and sometimes I won't pull him."
Downs has held left-handed hitters to a .215 average during his career. But Washington said he was only going to pinch-hit for Moreland if Gentry reached base. If there had been two outs and nobody on base, Washington would have left Moreland in the game. With Gentry on base, the Rangers had a chance to go ahead. With two outs and nobody on base, there was a greater chance of the game staying tied and Moreland being needed later in the game.
• The Angels requested extra security for Josh Hamilton's wife and family during Friday's game against the Rangers because of what was described as "over-exuberant" fans seated near them. There were no incidents or arrests. The Hamilton family was seated in a private suite on Saturday. There were no available suites for the home opener on Friday so the Hamilton family was in the stands.
• The Rangers went into Saturday's game having not committed an error in their last 30 innings. That stretch lasted for six more innings until third baseman Adrian Beltre committed a fielding error in the seventh.
• Beltre received his 2012 Gold Glove before Saturday's game and catcher A.J. Pierzynski received his 2012 Silver Slugger Award. It was the fourth time Beltre has won the award for defensive excellence and the first for Pierzynski as the top hitting catcher in the league.
"It's awesome," Pierzynski said. "To get it is pretty cool. My son is more excited than I am. He wants to get that bat and swing it around the house."
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.