7/23/2013 8:40 P.M. ET
Harrison, Lewis inching closer to Rangers
By Master Tesfatsion / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers could have an influx of starting pitching by the end of the season if Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis continue to progress.
Harrison, who threw 60 pitches during his bullpen session on Monday, will throw batting practice for the first time on Wednesday. The left-hander said the soreness stemming from the herniated disc in his lower back felt better after Tuesday's session than after Saturday's. The doctor who performed Harrison's surgery told the lefty everything was normal after Tuesday's activity and that Harrison was clear to proceed at full speed.
"It definitely gave me a sense of where I'm at," said Harrison, who feels he's a week ahead of schedule and may be able to return at some point in mid-August.
Lewis, recovering from surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right elbow, allowed three runs on five hits in three innings for Double-A Frisco on Monday in his second rehabilitation start. The right-hander walked two and struck out three, throwing 33 of his 56 pitches for strikes. Lewis felt his command was better in his second rehab start, but he still has to get to a point where he's mechanically sound. With Frisco out of town, Lewis aims to pitch his third rehab start with Triple-A Round Rock this weekend.
"I think I'm just building up arm strength still and definitely have got to start limiting pitches per inning and trying to get quicker outs," Lewis said. "I think that's going to come when my command starts to get a little bit better. I feel like it was a little bit better, especially warming up in the bullpen and getting ready for the game. It's slower than I anticipated, but it's coming."
With this week's acquisition of right-hander Matt Garza from the Cubs and the return of Yu Darvish and Alexi Ogando from the disabled list, the Rangers could theoretically have seven quality starters to use down the stretch and into a possible playoff run, including lefties Derek Holland and Martin Perez.
"The tide has turned, in a sense that we're getting these arms back," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We get these arms back, now they've just got to go out there and perform. If we can keep them all healthy going down the stretch here, I think we're going to be OK. In the meantime, I think we kept things in a position where we can be in the running if we can continue to play the way we can pitch and stay healthy."
Amid investigation, Washington backs Cruz
ARLINGTON -- Manager Ron Washington said the Rangers clubhouse will embrace Nelson Cruz regardless of the outcome of Major League Baseball's investigation into his involvement with the Miami-area Biogenesis clinic that allegedly provided certain players with performance-enhancing substances.
"That's all we do around here, is support, and we support Nelson," Washington said. "We can't do anything about his circumstance, but we support him. Until Major League Baseball decides what they want to do, I don't think about it. I'll put his name in my lineup. Until I get word that I can't put it in there, I'll put him in there."
The Rangers haven't received any information on Cruz's case. Washington said he feels the right fielder has handled the situation appropriately.
"I don't know what he's going through because I've never been in that situation, but I think he's handled it admirably," Washington said. "I think he's been a pro, and he has been able to separate what he has done [for] his job, which is come to the ballpark and play baseball, and what he's done out of here. He's done a good job of separating."
The Rangers currently have seven players who can play the outfield, including Jurickson Profar and Jeff Baker. Cruz, who hit his 23rd home run in Monday's 3-0 win over the Yankees, has been the most consistent hitter for the club this season, and his absence due to a suspension would be a significant blow to the lineup.
"[An announcement] hasn't come to the Texas Rangers yet, so we're just worried about today," Washington said. "That's all we can do."
The Rangers skipper said he doesn't have a right to judge Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun for violating the league's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. On Monday, MLB suspended Braun, who has also been tied to the Biogenesis clinic, for the remainder of this season.
"Major League Baseball, I think, is doing a fantastic job trying to clear it up," Washington said. "The players have already said that they want it straightened out, and this is one of the consequences for a guy that's a star player, and he has to pay. I think [Braun] has to answer that. I can't sit here and try to bash him or anything like that. He made a mistake, and Major League Baseball has a penalty for it. He'll pay his penalty, and then he'll be reinstated back into baseball."
Mo thanks Rangers employees in meeting
ARLINGTON -- Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, in the midst of his final season, took time to thank Rangers employees shortly before New York took batting practice on Tuesday. Rivera has planned to set up a meeting at every visiting ballpark to show his gratitude toward ballpark personnel.
"We would never have a chance to see you guys, and that's why I wanted to do this," Rivera told roughly 20 Rangers employees. "That was important to me, to make sure to thank those that work behind the scenes. No one sees them."
"I want to be remembered as a player that gave for others," Rivera said. "It's not that I'm better than anyone else; that's not true. I have been blessed and treat everybody the same because I wanted to be treated like that -- with respect."
The Rangers will honor Rivera with a special pregame ceremony on Thursday that will include Rangers closer Joe Nathan and John Wetteland, who won 1996 World Series MVP Award with the Yankees and is a member of the Rangers Hall of Fame.
Flush with arms, Rangers option Burns, Ortiz
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers made two roster moves on Tuesday to make room for right-handers Alexi Ogando and Matt Garza, optioning Cory Burns and Joseph Ortiz to Triple-A Round Rock. The moves gave the Rangers seven relievers, including Ross Wolf.
Burns is 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in nine relief appearances for the Rangers this season. He had pitched 7 1/3 scoreless frames since July 7, when he was recalled from Round Rock for his second big league stint this season. Ortiz posted eight scoreless innings in his third go-round with Texas this season after being recalled on July 11. He's 2-1 with a 3.96 ERA in 25 outings this year for the Rangers.
• On Monday, shortstop Elvis Andrus became the first player in Texas history with five consecutive 20-steal seasons. He swiped two bags to reach 21 this season. With 144 stolen bases, Andrus has the third most in club history. Ian Kinsler holds the club's stolen-base record with 163.
• Engel Beltre started in right field and Craig Gentry in center field on Tuesday. Washington wanted to give Leonys Martin and David Murphy a day off.
• Nathan recorded his 329th career save on Monday, pulling into a tie for 12th place on the Majors' all-time list with former Rangers reliever Francisco Cordero. With his next save, Nathan will tie Wetteland for 11th place.
• The Rangers have introduced two new sandwiches named after first baseman Mitch Moreland. The Mitchwich Wild features ground buffalo and elk with chorizo, bacon, jalapenos, back bean spread and fried onions, served on a sourdough bun with a side of potato chips. The Mitchwich Mild is an elk burger patty, topped with bacon, tomatoes, baby arugula and Colby jack cheese, served on a sourdough bun with a side of chips. The items were introduced on the Rangers' current homestand and are available behind home plate.
Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.