HOUSTON -- The Rangers, one of the teams that have inquired about Padres closer Heath Bell, continue their search for bullpen help. General manager Jon Daniels called it the Rangers' "first focus."But club officials admitted it's still far more likely that any immediate reinforcements will come from within the organization. "We're still at the point of the season where it's much more realistic to rely on internal options," Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "Right now, teams just aren't willing to wave the white flag. While we are having dialogue with other teams, it's more of a fact-finding situation rather than any real material discussions." The Rangers continue to monitor the progress of injured pitchers Darren O'Day and Tommy Hunter in the hopes that they are getting close to returning from the disabled list. O'Day, pushed back one day because of some stiffness, was scheduled to pitch on Tuesday night for Triple-A Round Rock on rehab assignment. He has pitched three scoreless innings in his three previous outings and may pitch multiple innings for Round Rock on Tuesday. O'Day has been sidelined for over two months since undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip and has pitched four total innings in the Minor Leagues. The Rangers prefer their relievers to get 10-12 innings of work in Spring Training, but they may not wait that long with O'Day. The original plan was to hold off until the All-Star break. "This will be a faster track, but how [much] faster remains to be determined," Levine said. "He has performed well, but we haven't put a timetable it yet." Hunter was a starter for the Rangers last year and a 13-game winner but has been sidelined for three months with a strained groin muscle. He is being used in the bullpen at Round Rock and pitched a scoreless inning on Monday night. His rehab assignment expires on Sunday and he will be continue to be used out of the bullpen until then. Levine said he will be used the way the game dictates rather than having a prescribed schedule. "We're trying to expose him to different types of outings that he could be used in if he is brought up as a reliever," Levine said. The Rangers don't necessarily have to activate Hunter on Sunday if he's not ready. He could be optioned to Triple-A if the Rangers feel he still needs more work in being acclimated to a bullpen role.
Struggling Ogando may be given time to rest
HOUSTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said Alexi Ogando, who has lost three straight starts, will start on Friday against the Marlins in Arlington. But the Rangers are discussing other alternatives if Ogando continues to falter, and Scott Feldman could be one.One scenario is Ogando could start on Friday and then be optioned to the Minor Leagues until after the All-Star break. He wouldn't actually pitch or even report to the Minor Leagues but would use that time to get some extra rest and then possibly rejoin the rotation after the break. Feldman, who has been recovering from offseason knee surgery, could be close to the end of his comeback trail and ready to return to the Major Leagues. Feldman is scheduled to pitch seven innings and/or 105 pitches for Triple-A Round Rock on Friday. That is the equivalent of how long a starting pitcher usually goes in his last Spring Training outing leading into the regular season. If Feldman comes out of that game with no problems, he could be an option for the Rangers, if they decide Ogando needs to come out of the rotation. Ogando has a 9.31 ERA in his last three starts, allowing 15 runs, 10 earned, on 19 hits and two walks in 9 2/3 innings. "We've discussed some options, we'll see how it goes on Friday," Washington said. Feldman, a 17-game winner and the Rangers Pitcher of the Year in 2009, underwent surgery on his right knee on Nov. 3 after going 7-11 with a 5.48 ERA in 22 games and seven relief appearances last season. He has pitched 13 innings over his last three starts at Round Rock and has allowed two runs, one earned, on seven hits, two walks and 11 strikeouts.
Andrus eyeing Thursday for return to lineup
HOUSTON -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was sidelined for a third straight game with a sprained left wrist and was not in the lineup for Tuesday's game against the Astros. He probably won't start on Wednesday either, but he could be a late-inning replacement if needed.Andrus said the wrist is feeling better. He played catch with manager Ron Washington, took ground balls at shortstop and did some hitting in the cages. He will likely do that one more time on Wednesday and go back into the lineup on Thursday. If he needs to go in there for someone late in the game, I won't hesitate to use him," Washington said. "Hopefully, we can get him back on Thursday." Andrus injured the wrist with a head-first slide into second base during Friday's game with the Astros.
Martin nearing return to Double-A Frisco
HOUSTON -- Cuban outfielder Leonys Martin could be close to returning to Double-A Frisco after being sidelined for most of June with a slight herniation in his lower back. Martin is 4-for-15 in four games on medical rehabilitation assignment with the Arizona Rookie League Rangers.The Texas League All-Star Game is on Wednesday and the Rangers were targeting Martin's return for immediately after that date. "He is playing consistently down there and reporting no issues," Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said. Martin, who signed for $15.5 million earlier this season, played in 22 games for Frisco before he was hurt and batted .357 with three home runs, 19 runs scored and 18 RBIs.
Mike Napoli (strained ribcage muscle) is still planning to begin a medical rehabilitation assignment on Thursday. The plan is for Napoli to play four games in the Minors and then be activated from the disabled list on Monday. Manager Ron Washington said he has heard nothing from the Commissioner's Office about being ejected from Sunday's game against the Mets. Said Washington, "When I hear from them, it will be a piece of paper with a dollar sign on it." Rangers general manager Jon Daniels is back from his scouting trip to Japan.
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.