TORONTO -- Rangers starting pitcher Cliff Lee threw an encouraging bullpen session Tuesday and is slated to make his return to the rotation over the weekend against the Yankees.
Whether it will be Saturday or Sunday is undetermined, but manager Ron Washington said it will be no earlier -- dissolving the initial speculation that Lee (sore back) would start Thursday to give Colby Lewis an extra day of rest.
Lee last pitched Aug. 31 against the Royals. Lewis, who was roughed up by the Twins for nine runs in 3 2/3 innings on Saturday, has thrown 170 2/3 frames this year, eclipsing his previous high of 127 set in 2003.
Andrus will miss entire series on turf
TORONTO -- Manager Ron Washington said injured shortstop Elvis Andrus will not return to the Rangers' lineup until after the club's four-game series in Toronto.
Andrus strained his right hamstring in Saturday's 12-4 loss to the Twins, and was removed from the game in the third inning.
The shortstop, who ran sprints Tuesday at Rogers Centre, said his hamstring is nearing 100 percent, and he expected to know the exact date of his return after Tuesday's game.
"I think it will be a couple days," Andrus said. "I'm getting close to being good to go. Like I said, it's nothing I'm too worried about, just giving it a couple days to rest and let my hamstring get better."
Washington ruled out any possibility of a return earlier than Friday, citing the turf at Rogers Centre as his cause for concern.
"He went down and hit today," Washington said. "I certainly don't want him out there messing around, taking ground balls and stuff right now, because it doesn't take much on that turf for it to tighten up, and we need to get Elvis right."
Andrus, too, acknowledged his skepticism with the artificial playing surface, which saw a ball jump nearly a foot over the head of right fielder Jeff Francoeur in the second inning Monday.
"I know this turf is pretty bad," Andrus said. "[Even] when I'm OK, my legs hurt after every game. I think that's why they worry in there. Washington is so worried about me going to play on this turf."
Rangers can't explain AL East struggles
TORONTO -- Stats don't lie, but sometimes there is no way to explain them.
The Rangers have struggled all season against the American League East, posting a disappointing 14-24 mark.
Albeit it's a tough division, boasting the two top records in Major League Baseball entering Tuesday, with the Yankees at 86-52 and the Rays at 83-54. Manager Ron Washington said it has been the non-contenders who have given them the most trouble.
The Rangers were a combined 5-11 against fourth-place Toronto (71-66) and fifth-place Baltimore (52-86) entering Tuesday's game.
"Well, in the case of Toronto, we have to keep them in the ballpark," Washington said. "You don't keep them in the ballpark, you don't have a chance. The case in New York, I think we played better against them the [second] time we saw them than the first time we went there -- we didn't play good baseball. Boston, I think we've held our own against Boston. Tampa Bay, we beat them in Texas and they beat us in Tampa.
"Baltimore, this year they've just had our number. They came into Texas and took four, and we went in there and split. Other than that, we just have to keep Toronto in the ballpark."
Despite dropping four straight games, the Rangers maintained a sizable seven-game lead Tuesday over Oakland atop the AL West.
Rangers see opportunity in bigger rosters
TORONTO -- They expand the rosters in September for a reason, and Rangers manager Ron Washington wants to take full advantage of that.
With Texas nursing a plethora of injuries, the club is carrying several more players on its active roster -- all of whom Washington wants to make use of.
"If we expand the roster, they should be used," Washington said. "If we expand the roster to let some guys be up here [as a] reward, we're giving up too many rewards at the Major League level. So if you're up here, you play. If we expand it, they play."
The Sept. 1 roster expansion date could also be interpreted as a disadvantage of sorts. With unseen talent coming to the bigs, and the matchup dilemmas created by large bullpens and offensive substitutions, managers have a lot more on their plate.
That being said, Washington thinks worries about micromanaging are overblown.
"I don't [stress about it] simply because my best hitters are left-handers," he said. "You could have 50 [men in the bullpen], but you're going to have to face them. Maybe another team has a different opinion. For me, it doesn't matter. If I'm going to send a lefty up there, I'm going to send him up there."
Quote to note
Ron Washington has never been a big proponent of micromanaging, and he believes right-handers and left-handers alike should not use poor splits as an excuse: "I don't know, what, maybe 10 years ago this matchup stuff started? Before that I remember left-handers hit everybody. I remember right-handers hit the heck out of right-handers. Now all of a sudden some right-handers can face only left-handed pitching. I'm a right-handed hitter, I don't [care], you throw it in the wrong spot, I'm going to drop [the barrel] on it. I think a lot of it has to do with attitude. A lot of it has to do with how you feel about yourself. I can't feel for the player, I just know how I felt when I was a player. Throw with your feet, I don't care. Throw it in the wrong spot, I'm going to drop [the barrel] on it, bottom line. Today it provides an excuse for them."
James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.