04/23/2013 9:29 PM ET
Rangers' depth suffers while Harrison recovers
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair a herniated disc in his lower back. Harrison woke up from the surgery with normal soreness but was pain-free in his legs. The Rangers consider that a good sign.
"The surgery went as expected, there were no surprises," general manager Jon Daniels said.
The Rangers are still expecting Harrison to return sometime between the All-Star Game and Aug. 1. Right now, Justin Grimm is filling in as the club's fifth starter, with the possibility of injured pitchers Colby Lewis or Martin Perez being available to assume that slot by June 1.
The Rangers are still concerned about their depth. They claimed left-handed pitcher Charlie Leesman off waivers from the White Sox, but he exercised his right to become a free agent on Tuesday. Leesman, who was 12-10 with a 2.47 ERA in 26 starts at Triple-A last year, is coming off knee surgery and won't be ready for another month. But he surprised the Rangers by refusing the assignment because he was concerned about them having too much starting-pitching depth.
Daniels doesn't see it that way.
"Just where we are right now, I'm comfortable with the club," Daniels said. "But you're always thinking about the next hiccup."
The Dodgers thought they had plenty of starting pitching at the beginning of the season and traded veteran right-hander Aaron Harang to the Rockies. But injuries to pitchers Zack Greinke, Chris Capuano and Chad Billingsley have eroded their depth as well.
The Rangers' leading candidates to be summoned from Triple-A Round Rock in case of emergency are right-hander Josh Lindblom (2-0, 1.06 ERA) and left-hander Brad Mills (3-0, 2.52). Daniels said Lindblom, who has pitched out the bullpen his entire big league career but has switched to the rotation at Round Rock, is ready if needed at the big league level.
Holland disappointed with Monday's start
ANAHEIM -- Rangers starter Derek Holland had a 2-0 lead after three innings on Monday and said he was working with some of the best stuff he's had all year. But he ran into some control problems and ended up allowing six runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Holland walked two in the third inning but got away with it because Albert Pujols hit into an inning-ending double play. Then a walk to Mark Trumbo started a three-run rally for the Angels in the fourth.
"I beat myself," Holland said. "I had those guys down, I was doing my job and I let it slip up. Too many walks. It was a disappointing game. I still feel everything is fine. I felt I had one of my best games stuff-wise. I thought I had great command. Then that one inning I started falling behind and started walking people. I got away with it one inning, but the next inning it got away from me. I just beat myself; that was the disappointing thing."
Holland's next start is scheduled for Saturday against the Twins in the third game of a four-game series. Nick Tepesch will open the set on Thursday night. He threw 45 pitches in a bullpen session on Monday without any problems and should be ready on Thursday. He left Saturday's start in the second inning after getting hit in the right arm with a line drive, but that is no longer a concern.
Bullpen continues to shine
ANAHEIM -- Rangers relievers earned both a win and a save with 3 1/3 scoreless innings of a 7-6 victory over the Angels on Monday. The Rangers, Braves and Blue Jays are the only teams without a blown save this season.
The Rangers and the Braves are the only teams without a loss from a reliever and have the top two bullpen ERAs in the Majors. The Braves have a 1.22 ERA, while the Rangers have a 1.85 ERA.
"It's early, but obviously the early returns have been good," general manager Jon Daniels said on Tuesday. "Not only the results, but the way our guys are going about it: a lot of strikes and a lot of quick innings, getting ahead of hitters, both veteran guys as well as the young guys. We don't take it for granted that it will be this way all year. I don't think they can sustain the number of innings they've pitched for a full year. But we've asked them to do a job, and they've done it."
Closer Joe Nathan is 6-for-6 in save opportunities with a 1.23 ERA, but the Rangers have received a huge boost from right-hander Tanner Scheppers and left-hander Joe Ortiz. With two weeks to go in Spring Training there was some doubt if either would make the team. But Scheppers has two wins and hasn't allowed a run in nine appearances. Ortiz is 2-0 with a 0.77 ERA in seven appearances.
"The bullpen has done a good job, especially the young kids," manager Ron Washington said. "They've been thrown into the fire, and they've responded. They are able to hold leads, save runs and they're able to get outs."
Rangers hosting Truck Food Fest
ANAHEIM -- The Rangers are hosting a Texas Food Trucking Fest on Friday and Saturday at the Ballpark in Arlington. During this two-day gourmet utopia, fans will be able to sample food from all over Texas in the parking lots. There will also be live entertainment.
The event will be held from 4-10 p.m. CT on Friday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday. Adult admission is $10 for a one-day pass and $12 for a two-day pass. Children ages 12 and under are $5, while children under 32 inches tall are free. Part of the proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society.
There will be barbecue and Cuban food, pizza and empanadas, New York delicatessens and Hawaiian coffee, Vietnamese fusion and Greek delicacies, hot dogs, sausages, hamburgers and cupcakes and much more.
For more information go to http://texas.rangers.MLB.com/tex/fan_forum/foodtruck.jsp.
• Daniels said Double A Frisco pitcher Cody Buckel is being limited to three inning starts while he tries to regain his command. Buckel, the Rangers' top ranked pitching prospect in MLB.com's Prospect Watch, has walked 22 in 12 innings over four starts, including six in three innings on Monday.
"He's healthy, he feels good, his arm is fine," Daniels said. "Obviously he's struggled to this point and he's working on things mechanically. The thought process is to take small steps and get him locked back in. He struggled in the first inning [Monday], but the second and third innings were better. He'll do it the same way next time. The guy is a premium strike-thrower, so this is out of character."
• Pujols was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts as designated hitter against the Rangers on Monday. He is dealing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, but Washington still sees him as being quite dangerous.
"I don't care if he has plantar fasciitis, he can hit and he can hit anybody," Washington said. "I still see Pujols as the most dangerous man on earth, along with Miguel Cabrera, with a bat in his hand. I don't care what he looks like or what he's doing. The man knows what he is doing when he steps in the box. We're lucky we got him out last night."
• Rangers outfielder David Murphy is 1-for-19 in his career against Angels left-hander Jason Vargas, so he was out of the starting lineup on Tuesday with Jeff Baker starting in left field. Washington said the next time the Rangers face a left-hander, he could use Baker at first base and give Mitch Moreland the night off.
• The Rangers are scheduled to face two left-handers during their four-game series with the Twins. Right-hander Vance Worley is scheduled to pitch on Thursday, followed by left-handers Scott Diamond and Pedro Hernandez on Friday and Saturday. Right-hander Kevin Correia is scheduled for Sunday.
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.