04/21/2013 3:45 PM ET
Rangers tested with long road-heavy stretch
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers close out their series with the Mariners on Sunday and then head to Anaheim, where they open a three-game series with the Angels on Monday. After that, it's off to Minnesota for a four-game series with the Twins that starts on Thursday at Target Field.
The Rangers are into the second half of a stretch that originally called for them to play 14 of 17 games on the road. One game in Chicago was postponed by rain. It has been a unique stretch of the schedule.
"You could definitely say it's unfortunate we have to play so many road games right off the bat, especially a lot of games in cold weather cities," outfielder David Murphy said. "But as Major League players, we're very easily adaptable in experiencing things out of our control all the time. This is just one more."
The Rangers should see some reasonably mild temperatures in Anaheim. But then they fly to Minneapolis, and the forecast calls for rain and snow there on Thursday.
"It's not the most ideal part of the schedule, but you still have to perform," second baseman Ian Kinsler said.
"We look at the schedule and play it as it is," manager Ron Washington said. "We don't look at it as how they are making us do it. It's the schedule. If you start thinking of all the peripheral stuff, you're not playing baseball.
"We'll handle whatever it is. The schedule usually balances out. If we get challenged early, it's a good thing. We'll find out how tough we are."
Tepesch scheduled to make start on Thursday
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are expecting pitcher Nick Tepesch to make his next start on Thursday despite having to leave his last start with a contusion on his right arm.
Tepesch, after facing just seven batters and throwing just 21 pitches, had to leave Saturday's game in the second inning after getting hit by Jesus Montero's line drive just above the wrist. The line drive drew blood, but did not do any structural damage and Tepesch was feeling good when he arrived at the Ballpark in Arlington on Sunday morning.
"It's kind of sore, but not too bad," Tepesch said after getting treatment. "I figured it would be a little more sore this morning, but I kept a compression on it. It feels pretty good other than being a little stiff."
This is not the first time Tepesch has had to deal with the effects of getting hit by a line drive. He got smacked near the right elbow by a line drive in college while pitching for the University of Missouri.
"I had to come out after the first inning, but I still made my next start," Tepesch said.
Tepesch played catch on Sunday. A bigger test will come on Monday when he's scheduled to have his normal between-starts throwing session in the bullpen. But the Rangers aren't expecting anything to keep him from pitching on Thursday.
"Right now he's still in there," manager Ron Washington said.
Frasor adaptable to different pitching roles
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers had a 5-0 lead going into the ninth on Saturday night. It was not a save situation, so manager Ron Washington used Jason Frasor instead of Joe Nathan. Washington did have Nathan warming up in case Frasor turned it into a save situation.
Instead, Frasor closed out the shutout. He walked one and struck out two.
"It doesn't matter what the score is, you never feel good when those guys cross the plate," Frasor said. "I wanted to finish it out. I know Joe Nathan was warming up, but I didn't want him coming in."
It was Frasor's sixth appearance for the Rangers, but he really hasn't established a role in the bullpen. The Rangers signed him as a free agent in the offseason to be a right-handed setup reliever, but most of those duties have gone to Tanner Scheppers.
Frasor doesn't have a hold yet, while Scheppers has three. A hold can be considered a contrived statistic, but it does mean Frasor has yet to be used in what is classified as a save situation.
"Some guys are big on roles," Frasor said. "I go in when they tell me to go in. I think they're still learning me too."
Frasor spent most of the past nine years with the Blue Jays, mainly as a setup reliever anywhere between the sixth and eighth innings.
"We're just trying to get Frasor out there and get him going," manager Ron Washington said. "Things will pick up for him."
Lindblom could provide depth at starting pitcher
ARLINGTON -- Josh Lindblom, who was acquired from the Phillies during the offseason in the Michael Young trade, has never started in the Major Leagues. But he made his third start and fourth appearance for Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday, holding New Orleans to one run in five innings. He allowed four hits and two walks while striking out seven.
Lindblom, who made 101 appearances in relief for the Dodgers and Phillies over the previous two seasons, is now 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA. Lindblom came to Spring Training as a strong candidate for the Rangers bullpen. But when he didn't make the big league roster, he and the Rangers talked about taking a shot as a starter in the Minor Leagues.
"We stretched him out to 95 pitches last night," said Danny Clark, the Rangers Minor League pitching coordinator. "He's using his changeup more in this role as opposed to the last couple of years being in the bullpen. The early part of the season has been encouraging from standpoint he wants to start and every outing we are seeing better quality of pitches."
Lindblom's development comes at a time when the Rangers are concerned about their starting pitching depth in the Minor Leagues. Those concerns were reinforced when Nick Tepesch had to come out of Saturday's game after getting hit by a line drive in the right arm. Tepesch is fine, but another pitching injury could leave the Rangers scrambling for a starter without robbing their bullpen.
The Rangers lost pitcher Martin Perez to a broken arm when he was hit by a line drive in Spring Training. Perez is still working out in Arizona and could be out for another month.
Cody Buckel is another concern. He is the Rangers' fourth-highest-rated prospect by MLB.com, but he is off to a rough start. He has made three starts at Double-A Frisco and has allowed 15 runs in just six innings. Six of the runs are unearned, but he has walked 16 batters.
The Rangers need starting pitching depth, and Lindblom is starting to provide it.
"Reports have been good," general manager Jon Daniels said. "It's three quality pitches for strikes [plus working on a curveball] on a physical frame that can handle the innings. It's early, but it looks like he's taken to the role well."
• Manager Ron Washington considered starting Leury Garcia at second base on Sunday and using Ian Kinsler at designated hitter. That would have meant sitting Lance Berkman, and he did not want to have the day off.
"He said he has had enough days off," said Washington. "He said he feels good at the plate and wants to keep swinging."
• Yu Darvish threw 40 pitches in a bullpen session before Sunday's game. He pitches Wednesday against the Angels in Anaheim.
• Derek Lowe threw four scoreless innings on 31 pitches in relief against the Mariners on Saturday. He is the second relief pitcher to throw four scoreless innings on as few as 31 pitches since pitch counts started being officially kept back in 1988. Dodgers reliever Jeff Shaw threw 31 pitches over four scoreless innings against the Rockies on Aug. 18, 1996.
• Rangers pitchers have thrown 33 shutouts since the beginning of 2011, the most in the Major Leagues.
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.