4/16/2014 5:59 P.M. ET
Saunders cuts bullpen short
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Joe Saunders had to cut a bullpen session short on Wednesday because of more pain in his left ankle.
Saunders is on the disabled list with a bruised left ankle as the result of getting hit by a line drive in his only start of the season on April 4 against the Rays. He is eligible to come off the disabled list on Sunday but that isn't likely. He still needs to pass fielding tests as well.
Saunders has had an MRI that showed only a bruise and no fractures. But the pain is still there and Saunders will back off for the next few days before trying another bullpen session. The longer Saunders is out, the more likely he'll need at least one start on medical rehabilitation assignment.
It could also push him back toward the time when Matt Harrison comes off the disabled list, although that is still to be determined. Harrison is scheduled to pitch on rehab assignment on Saturday but the Rangers haven't announced if it will be for Triple-A Round Rock or Double-A Frisco.
The Rangers are interested in seeing better results. Harrison, who started the season on the disabled list while still recovering from his back problems, allowed three runs in 3 1/3 innings on Monday against Arkansas. He threw 77 pitches on a cold, wet day in Little Rock and admitted he had a hard time staying motivated. The Rangers would like to see all that change in his next outing.
Right now there are no spots in the rotation. Saunders was replaced by Colby Lewis and the Rangers are committed to him. Tanner Scheppers, who switched from the bullpen to the rotation this season, is 0-1 with a 7.88 ERA in his first three starts and the Rangers have lost all three games. That might be a vulnerable spot but the Rangers intent was not to put him in the rotation on temporary assignment. The Rangers believe he has the talent to be a front-line starter even if he has struggled in his first three starts.
"For me, I have faith in my ability," Scheppers said. "If I go out and do what I know I can do, I will be fine."
Chirinos sharing catching position with Arencibia
ARLINGTON -- Manager Ron Washington is starting to approach his catching situation in the same manner as second base. It has become a shared position without a clear-cut No. 1 catcher.
Robinson Chirinos was in the lineup for the second straight game on Wednesday, giving him back-to-back starts for the second time this season. He also started back-to-back games in Boston and has seven starts overall in 15 games. J.P. Arencibia has started the other eight.
At second base, Donnie Murphy has started eight games while Josh Wilson was in there for the seventh time on Wednesday. Wilson has also started twice at third base.
"With the makeup of the club, I've got to keep everybody involved," Washington said. "I'd like for somebody to take off, but everybody is contributing so I'm trying to keep everybody engaged."
The Rangers are getting some offensive production out of second base. Their second basemen have combined to hit .283 with a .340 on-base percentage and a .370 slugging percentage. Catching has been a different story. Rangers catchers, going into Wednesday, were hitting .128 with a .196 on-base percentage and a .234 slugging percentage.
"I'm not expecting offense out of the catchers," Washington said. "I want them to get the pitchers through their innings. Whatever offense I get out of them is a plus. I'll get something. I got a game-winner [single on Friday night] from Chirinos. We know what our catchers are. We can't make up something they are not. But I have confidence in them."
Washington wants Rios to run
ARLINGTON -- Alex Rios had three stolen bases in the Rangers' first 14 games. He has been caught twice, both on this homestand and both with Prince Fielder at the plate. He was thrown out trying to steal third with nobody out in the eighth inning on Saturday night and again on Tuesday in the sixth inning.
Manager Ron Washington wasn't thrilled Rios got thrown out on Saturday night but he had no problem with Tuesday's attempt.
"I'm okay with it," Washington said. "It's his game. I don't think he'll be running second to third, but I'm not stopping Rios going first to second. That's his game."
Rios said he thought he had a great jump on Tuesday night. But catcher Mike Zunino got a good pitch to handle outside and made a strong throw to second to get Rios.
"I thought I had a great chance," Rios said. "I'm going to continue to be aggressive."
• Pitcher Daniel McCutchen has cleared outright waivers and has been assigned to Triple-A Round Rock.
• The Rangers have signed former Major League outfielder Scott Cousins to a Minor League contract and sent him to Surprise, Ariz., to become a pitcher. He appeared in 135 games with the Marlins and Angels in 2010-13 and had a career .179 batting average. He was originally a third-round pick by the Marlins in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.
• The Rangers are the fifth American League team to throw four shutouts in their first 14 games since the designated hitter rule was adopted in 1973. The others were the 1978 Athletics, the 1979 Rangers, the 1981 Athletics and the 1990 Brewers. The starters for the Rangers in 1979 were Doyle Alexander (twice), Steve Comer and Ferguson Jenkins.
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.