ARLINGTON -- Starter Tommy Hunter is slated to pitch out of the bullpen in the playoffs, at least in the Rangers' five-game American League Division Series that starts Oct. 6 against either the Tampa Bay Rays or the New York Yankees.
Hunter, who didn't allow a hit over two-thirds of an inning out of the bullpen in Tuesday's 3-1 loss to the Mariners, said before the game that he feels confident he'll be able to handle the move to reliever.
"It doesn't take me long to get ready for a game when I start, so it's just being able to go out there and just go," Hunter said. "I'm going to try and throw hard and throw strikes and try to get out of a jam if I get in one."
The reason Hunter is in the bullpen is the Rangers plan on using Game 1 starter Cliff Lee on three days' rest in the ALDS, throwing him on Oct. 6 and then again on Oct. 10 in Game 4, if necessary. Washington said he and pitching coach Mike Maddux will probably monitor Lee's pitch count for his final regular season start on Friday against the Angels.
"I don't know what it's going to be," Washington said of Lee's pitch count. "He could go out there and throw 80 pitches in nine innings. We'll make sure that stress doesn't set in."
As for Hunter, Washington said he would probably use him for multiple innings out of the bullpen and maybe for multiple games this week to keep his arm stretched out.
Hunter said he has talked to Scott Feldman and Rich Harden, both starters who have gone to the bullpen this season, about what to expect.
"They said, 'Go get outs,'" Hunter said. "That's what they need. I'm going to try and get them."
Hamilton sees progress after taking swings
ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton still faces a tight schedule as he tries to recover from two small fractures in his right rib cage and be ready for the playoffs, which start on Oct. 6.
On Tuesday, Hamilton took 20 swings off a tee and 20 more off underhanded "soft-toss" pitching. He felt good enough after that to go out and shag fly balls both in left and center field."It was a good day," said Hamilton, who was wearing football-like rib pads over both side of his rib cage. Hamilton said his main problem continues to be tightness in his back muscle near his rib cage. He had to deal with that on Tuesday both in swinging the bat and shagging balls. "It's tight right now," Hamilton said. "But there are ways we can keep working around the tightness." Hamilton's plan is for more swinging off soft-toss pitching on Wednesday. If that goes well, he could start taking live batting practice on Thursday and play in a game on Friday. "One day this weekend -- if it continues to get better or at least stays the same [he'll play in a game]," Hamilton said. "I don't want to do anything to aggravate it. I really don't have a plan until I get to the ballpark and start feeling good. I just want the progression to continue." Hamilton also hasn't started throwing yet, either. "Throwing will be the last thing," Hamilton said. "I can hit the cutoff man. Hitting is more important than throwing.
Rangers meet to discuss postseason roster
ARLINGTON -- Manager Ron Washington, his coaches and key members of the Rangers' front office met Tuesday to discuss the playoff roster. As expected, with a decision not needed until next Tuesday, it turned into a brainstorming session.
The key discussions centered on pitching and first base. The Rangers have to decide whether to go with 10 or 11 pitchers, and who those pitchers will be. There is also a competition at first base between left-handed hitters Chris Davis and Mitch Moreland -- one of them will share the position with Jorge Cantu in the playoffs.
Washington said everyone in the meeting was pretty much in agreement on the key issues, and while there is an idea of what the postseason roster will look like, nothing is finalized yet.
"Everybody's more or less right there," Washington said. "There's always going to be a few guys going one way and a few guys going one way. When we finally put it together, I don't think it will be a problem. It's nice to hear opinions."
Washington said most of the time was spent on pitching, but everyone did have an opinion on first base. And the manager made it clear that Davis, who struggled with two strikeouts in Monday's loss, and Moreland, who had been slumping before hitting two home runs on Sunday in Oakland, are in a competition in these final six games of the regular season.
"We're going to let this thing play out," Washington said. "We don't have to make a decision yet. As we get closer to the weekend, we'll be able to give you'll something final.
"A few things can still be won in the next few days."
MRI postpones Francisco's 'pen session
ARLINGTON -- Injured Rangers reliever Frank Francisco had a third MRI done Tuesday on the strained muscle in his right rib cage, preventing him from throwing a scheduled bullpen session.
The Rangers were waiting on the test results before deciding when Francisco will able to throw from a mound. The team is running out of time to get Francisco ready for its first-round playoff series which starts on Oct. 6.
Francisco said Monday that pitching in the postseason would fulfill a dream of his. He threw back-to-back days from flat ground over the weekend, but Tuesday's MRI -- he had his last one two weeks ago -- appears to be a setback in Francisco's attempt to pitch in a game before the regular season ends on Sunday.
Francisco last pitched for the Rangers on Aug. 27.
Rangers manager Ron Washington gave the night off to some of his regulars Tuesday, including third baseman Michael Young, second baseman Ian Kinsler, shortstop Elvis Andrus and designated hitter Vladimir Guererro. He said he'll give a few starters the night off Wednesday, then play them Thursday and Friday. "Maybe let them play five innings," Washington said. "I'm not going to give them full days off." ... MLB Commissioner Bud Selig will attend Wednesday's Rangers-Mariners game. ... The Rangers recalled reliever Doug Mathis on Tuesday to have an extra pitcher in the bullpen. ... Reliever Mark Lowe arrived in Arlington Monday night. Lowe, who was acquired from Seattle in the trade for Cliff Lee, is coming off of lower back surgery and could pitch in one of the final six games of the season.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.