9/3/2014 1:27 A.M. ET
Kirkman back in Majors as lefty specialist
By Jackson Alexander / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- Michael Kirkman in 2014 hardly resembles the previous version that last appeared for the Rangers on June 6, 2013.
For starters, Kirkman, who made his 2014 debut on Tuesday against the Royals, will assume a role relegated primarily to facing left-handed hitters.
"I'm not sure," said Kirkman on how the decision was made. "Pitching coach Mike [Maddux] said I'd be facing lefties when I got here. That's what I'll be doing, I guess."
Kirkman was the losing pitcher in Texas' 2-1 loss. He entered in the eighth and faced four batters, three of them left-handed. Mike Moustakas slugged a leadoff double, Jarrod Dyson reached on a fielder's choice, Omar Infante flew out to right, then Kirkman hit Alex Gordon. Salvador Perez clubbed the game-winning single off Jon Edwards.
The left-hander features his lowest arm slot since 2010, when he completed his most impressive Major League stint with Texas (14 games, 1.65 ERA).
Kirkman last appeared for Texas in 2013. He posted a 8.18 ERA in 25 relief appearances and he delivered the ball from a more traditional arm slot.
"For whatever reason, I was getting higher and higher. I couldn't tell you why," said Kirkman, who hopes to add deception to his pitches with the new delivery. "I had to completely start over … eventually I got it to stick in my head, and I got it to work."
The Rangers sent Kirkman to Triple-A Round Rock for the start of the 2014 season. He started four games there, but it went poorly, as Kirkman allowed 18 runs in 10 1/3 innings.
He rebounded once restored to the bullpen, sporting a 2.45 ERA in 44 innings as a reliever at Triple-A this season.
"I'm just happy to be here," Kirkman said. "I never knew I'd make it back after the first couple months of the season."
Rangers will go to six-man rotation for interim
KANSAS CITY -- The Rangers shuffled and expanded their rotation for the interim on Tuesday.
Texas manager Ron Washington announced, most notably, that the rotation would include six men, at least until Monday's off-day, with Colby Lewis receiving eight days of rest.
"No. 1, it gives some guys rest," Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "We have a couple of guys who have been with us all year and it's fairly common for going through the first time to fatigue that last month of the season."
After Nick Tepesch wraps up the Rangers' three-game series at Kansas City, Scott Baker will kick off a four-game set versus Seattle on Thursday. Robbie Ross Jr. (Friday), Nick Martinez (Saturday) and Derek Holland (Sunday) complete the Seattle series.
"We're going with that right now until we get to the off-day, then we'll revisit it," Washington said.
Holland made his season debut Tuesday night against the Royals. Lewis dropped a 4-3 decision to Kansas City on Monday. Washington is swapping the two because he wants Holland to pitch on normal five days' rest. Washington insisted that the decision to rest Lewis, whose next start will come next Tuesday versus the Angels, was not injury-related.
"There's no concern, he's healthy, everything's fine," Washington said.
Rangers set MLB record using 60th player
KANSAS CITY -- When Derek Holland released his first pitch Tuesday, the 2014 Rangers officially became the most populated team in MLB history.
Holland became player No. 60 used by Texas this season, surpassing the record of 59 set by three teams -- the 2002 Indians, and the 2002 and 2008 Padres.
"It all started with injuries, and then we had to start moving bodies around and then it started giving opportunities to players because of what's been happening to us," manager Ron Washington said.
A sampling of impact players lost to season-ending injury: Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo, Jurickson Profar, Tanner Scheppers, Martin Perez, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Mitch Moreland. And that doesn't count Yu Darvish, whose season is in jeopardy with an elbow injury.
Washington took the optimist's point of view before Tuesday's game.
"It just gave us an opportunity to see players in our organization that we may never [have] seen," Washington said. "You don't want to be in that situation, believe me, but I know a lot more players in our organization now than I did."
Reliever Michael Kirkman made it 61 players, as he made his 2014 debut in the eighth inning.
• The Rangers transferred Scheppers to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the roster for Kirkman.
• An illness forced Michael Choice out of the lineup. It's unclear whether he will be available in a late-game situation.
Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.