8/3/2013 10:45 P.M. ET
Pitchers Kirkman, Feliz begin rehab assignments
By T.R. Sullivan and Cash Kruth / MLB.com
OAKLAND --- Left-handed pitcher Michael Kirkman, sidelined for two months while undergoing treatment for skin cancer, and right-hander Neftali Feliz are emerging again as late-season options for the Rangers.
Kirkman began a rehab assignment for Triple-A Round Rock on Friday, allowing two runs on seven hits in five innings against Fresno. He walked two, struck out two and threw 72 pitches in a 3-1 loss.
"We were encouraged by the outing last night," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "The velocity was 90-94 and the reports read like somebody who was in the first time back in a game, so there was some rustiness. But he worked through that on the mound and was competitive."
Feliz, who had Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery on Aug. 1, 2012, pitched one scoreless inning for the Arizona Rookie League Rangers on Friday against the Brewers' affiliate. He did not allow a hit, walked one and struck out two in his first game action since the surgery.
The Rangers are bringing back Feliz as a reliever. He was their closer from 2010-11 before being moved to the rotation last season. He should be ready to rejoin the Rangers' bullpen by September at the latest.
"He's going to go on a rehab as a reliever," Levine said. "So he'll be going in one-inning stints. There's an ability, if we wanted to, to fast-track that, but we're also not rushing that, considering the injury he came back from. But we do hope and expect to have him make an impact in the big leagues this year."
The Rangers are keeping their options open with Kirkman. He has started games in the Minors in the past, but made the team out of Spring Training as a reliever. Right now, the Rangers see benefits of using him as a starter at Round Rock.
"I think the initial start was to give him time on the mound, iron out some things, but I think we also viewed it as why not stretch him out as a starter," Levine said. "It gives him an opportunity to come back either as a starter, long man or a short man out of the 'pen, rather than building him up as a short man and then you really only have one alternative how you could use him."
Injured Cruz exits Rangers' loss early
Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz left Saturday's 4-2 loss to the A's with an injury he sustained while running out a ground ball in the eighth inning.
The injury may have been related to a bruised left quad Cruz has been dealing with since Tuesday, when he was forced to leave a 14-11 win over the Angels. Cruz appeared to be limping on Saturday after making a running catch in the fifth inning.
The 33-year-old All-Star entered Saturday hitting .272 with 26 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .845 on-base plus slugging percentage.
Cruz is one of about 10 players expected to be suspended by Major League Baseball on Monday for alleged involvement with the Biogenesis, a South Florida clinic that allegedly distributed performance-enhancing substances to certain players.
"I have no control over that; I'm here to play baseball," Cruz said on Tuesday of MLB's investigation.
Andrus boasts hit streak, but lacks extra-base hits
OAKLAND -- Shortstop Elvis Andrus, after struggling for much of the first half, extended his hit streak to 16 games in Saturday's 4-2 loss to the A's. It's the longest streak by a Rangers player this season and ties his career high. Andrus went 1-for-3 to bring his average to .339 (20-for-59) during the streak, raising his season average to .257.
"It's about time," Andrus said. "For me, I've been fighting so much with my swing and my approach in the first half. I came into the second half with a plan and I've executed it. That's what I was looking for.
"Before I was trying to do so many things, now I've tried to simplify it. See a lot of pitches, hit the ball middle-away [center and right field] and don't pull too much. I just got lost in the first half."
Of his 20 hits during the streak, four were doubles, giving him 12 on the season. He has not hit a home run this season and has just three triples, none during his recent surge. He tripled nine times in 2012, but his last was on May 18. The other two came in the second game of the season.
His .297 slugging percentage entering Saturday's play was the second lowest in the American League and would the sixth lowest among qualifying hitters in Rangers history. The lowest was .255 by Jim Sundberg in 1975.
"Elvis is not a power hitter and I certainly hope he doesn't get to the point where he thinks like that," manager Ron Washington said. "When you struggle like he's struggled, it's hard to get doubles and triples. It's just one of those years where things haven't fallen into place for him. But he hasn't stopped grinding. We still have two months to go. He's got time to add to the doubles and triples. It's not over yet."
Ogando, Ross try to sort out command issues
OAKLAND -- The Rangers led, 6-3, after five innings Friday night. But they needed three pitchers to get to that point, and Jason Frasor saved everybody by getting the Rangers out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth. Starter Alexi Ogando and reliever Robbie Ross both had their issues.
Ogando, in his third start since coming off the disabled list, made it through just four innings. He allowed three runs on four hits and five walks while striking out one. He threw 92 pitches, 48 for strikes. Ogando has pitched 13 2/3 innings since his return, walking seven compared to four strikeouts.
"He's not hurt, so it's a matter of getting his command back," manager Ron Washington said. "He gets his command back, that will take care of everything. He's searching for his command. He has always been a strike-thrower. If he gets his command, the strikeouts will take care of itself."
Ross faced five batters in the fifth and allowed three to reach base on two singles and a walk. He did not complete the inning, turning it over to Frasor.
Ross is 2-2 with a 5.48 ERA since June 1, while opponents are hitting .287 off him. He averages 1.57 walks and hits per inning pitched. Over the first two months of the season, Ross was 2-0 with a 0.37 ERA, .231 opponents batting average and a 1.11 WHIP.
During that stretch, left-handed hitters had just seven singles in 31 at-bats. Since June 1, they are 16-for-38, including six doubles and three home runs.
"He's not hitting his spots," Washington said. "Robbie is at his best when he is commanding the baseball and hitting his spots. He's got to hone in on his command and execute his pitches. When he does that, we'll get the Robbie Ross that we know."
Manny remains content with Rangers at Triple-A
OAKLAND -- Manny Ramirez went 2-for-3 for Triple-A Round Rock on Friday night against Fresno. He is now hitting .280 in 22 games with a .415 slugging percentage. Even with the possibility of Nelson Cruz being suspended Monday, the Rangers still aren't inclined to bring Ramirez to the big leagues.
But they are also willing to stick with Ramirez rather than let him go. Ramirez also appears content to keep playing at Round Rock and hasn't pressed the Rangers for a promotion.
"You know, he's been terrific in that regard," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "He's down there playing. We're not having daily, weekly conversations with either he or his agent about what is the end. I think they understand that if his performance demands a promotion, it's going to happen. If not, he understands the onus is on him to prove his worth to the big league team."
The Rangers would also likely not stand in the way if another team feels Ramirez could help it. But nobody has made that call.
"Not to my knowledge," Levine said. "I think the understanding with somebody of that caliber and stature, if that call was made, we would ask for a 24- to 72-hour window to assess our situation at the big leagues here, and if we didn't feel we had a direct path, we would certainly facilitate a path for him to get to the big leagues with another team."
• The Rangers won Friday night for the first time this season without drawing a walk offensively.
• Jurickson Profar hit a home run Friday night while batting ninth and being used at designated hitter. It's only the third time in club history that the designated hitter has hit a home run from the ninth spot in the order. Dave Hostetler did it in 1983 and Taylor Teagarden in 2008.
• Friday night was also the fifth time this season the Rangers have won even though their starter pitched four innings or fewer.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.