9/1/2013 1:37 A.M. ET
Veteran bench providing depth, mentorship
By Master Tesfatsion / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have had the luxury of a deep bench this season, something Rangers manager Ron Washington hasn't had often during his time as the skipper. It's been a common occurrence for Washington to turn to his bench during a game for a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner.
On Friday, right-handed hitters Jeff Baker and Craig Gentry were used as pinch-hitters against left-handed pitchers against the Twins.
"It helps keep everybody involved," Washington said. "It gives the everyday guys a break here and there. It helps everyone knows their roles. They know that when there's a change of a pitcher happens, they could get up there to hit.
"We've been consistent with it, so now their minds are in the game a little different than in the past. They're always ready now."
Washington credits the players in the clubhouse for their unselfishness. Craig Gentry has had to change his role during the season as Leonys Martin developed into an everyday starter in center field. Gentry has been able to pinch-hit in late-game situations and also start in left or center as the club's fourth outfielder.
"I think he's doing an excellent job at it," Washington said. "He's not complaining about playing time, and he's ready to go when it's his time to go."
Baker dealt with a thumb injury, but he has become a valuable utility player off the bench who can play first, third or left field.
"I think his presence has helped the other guys," Washington said. "He's always in [Jurickson] Profar's ear. It helps when you got that veteran on the bench that can talk to those young kids and make them aware what's going on over the course of a ballgame, and when they should start getting prepared."
Andrus leaves game in first with back tightness
ARLINGTON -- Elvis Andrus left Saturday's game against the Twins with tightness in his lower back after running the bases in the first inning. Rangers manager Ron Washington said he'll give the shortstop the day off Sunday in hopes that he can return Monday against the A's.
After getting on base with a single, Andrus rounded to third on a base hit from Ian Kinsler and slowed down halfway to the bag coming from first. Adam Rosales pinch ran for Andrus on third and scored on Adrian Beltre's sacrifice fly.
"Before I hit second base, I felt it and everything just got worse when I was going to third base," Andrus said. "It happened to me before, so it's nothing new."
Andrus has played through back spasms for most of the season, and he said it usually occurs in his upper back. The latest instance was in his lower back, which was wrapped up after the game.
"I want to get on the field sooner rather than later, but I want to be, not sure about 100 percent, but at least 80 percent," Andrus said. "I don't want to go out there and have it not feel well, and then try to hustle and do something worse. If I need extra days, I'll take it. As soon as I feel good, I'll be in the field."
Washington not changing gameplan with Darvish
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington won't change the way he uses Yu Darvish, although his ability to close out games has been a topic of discussion in his recent starts.
"He's got to figure out how to get through it," Washington said. "No way. He's a bona fide pitcher. It's random, and he's never had issues getting through ballgames in his career. He's going to have figure it out."
Darvish has blown close leads in his last two games. Adam Dunn tied the game on a two-run homer last week in Chicago. In his latest outing, Darvish's no-hitter turned into a losing decision Friday against the Twins. The right-hander allowed two home runs in the seventh to Chris Herrmann and Justin Morneau.
"We just got to give him the ball next time and hopefully get deep in the game again," Washington said. "Next time, just hope we can hold on to the lead."
Washington said Darvish made just two mistakes in the game on those pitches. Darvish however started the inning on a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier and fell behind in the counts to Dozier, Herrmann and Morneau.
"Walks usually kill you," Washington said.
Despite the issue, Darvish has put together an impressive season. He's 12-6 with a 2.73 ERA, tallying a Major League-high 236 strikeouts.
Ogando feeling good after bullpen session
ARLINGTON -- Alexi Ogando threw a bullpen session on Saturday, and said afterward that things went well. He threw about 35 pitches, mixing all of his pitches during the session. The right-hander plans to have another bullpen session on Monday.
As far as in what role he will return in remains uncertain. He would like to return as the fifth starter for the Rangers after his third stint on the disabled list. Ogando has dealt with biceps tendonitis and two cases of shoulder inflammation in his throwing arm this year.
"Of course I want to start, but they make the decision," Ogando said.
Ogando is 5-4 with a 3.47 ERA in 15 starts this season.
Feliz back with Rangers, to join roster Sunday
ARLINGTON -- Neftali Feliz was back with the Rangers on Saturday, participating in stretches and signing autographs. He's expected to be added to the roster Sunday when the rosters expand.
"It's good to be here, to be with the team to help the team win this year," Feliz said.
The reliever said he's gained about 10 pounds during his rehab from Tommy John surgery last year. The right-hander's arms looked noticeably bigger, and Feliz said he feels about 95 percent recovered.
Rangers manager Ron Washington has received good reports during Feliz's rehab assignment. He pitched three scoreless innings, allowing just two hits with four strikeouts in his final outing with Triple-A Round Rock Wednesday. Feliz didn't allow a run in 10 2/3 innings in eight outings with Round Rock and the club's rookie team in Arizona.
"I try to throw my ball down, to throw my pitches down, my breaking balls and my fastball," Feliz said. "I know my velocity is coming soon."
Washington plans to ease in the 25-year-old in his return to the Major League. He doesn't want to put Feliz in high-stress level situations immediately, but his play will dictate how the Rangers use him for the last month of the season.
"If early we can get him in the game where there's not a whole lot of pressure going on to get a look, then we'll make a determination from there," Washington said.
Washington hopes Feliz can come in to contribute, as the Rangers have lost Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis for the season.
• Nick Tepesch pitched four scoreless innings for Double-A Frisco Friday. He is expected to return to the club Sunday when the rosters expand. Washington doesn't have a set role for Tepesch, but he said he will start in the bullpen.
• Joey Gallo hit three home runs in a game for the second time this season on Friday for Class A Hickory. He has 38 home runs this season, three shy of the Rangers' all-time Minor League home run record.
• Catcher Zach Zaneski has been promoted to Triple-A Round Rock.
Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.