ST. PETERSBURG -- Righty Mike Adams was unavailable to the Ranges on Friday and fellow reliever Alexi Ogando continues to be day to day.
Those absences have helped open the door for Tanner Scheppers to come out of the bullpen, including for one-third of an inning against Tampa Bay on Friday, when he retired the only batter he faced.
"Because he throws 97, 98 miles an hour, if he can get his changeup and breaking ball over, it makes him quite effective," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Scheppers' recent outings have given Washington more confidence in the righty, but the skipper maintained that he'll stay with his more trusted relievers in key situations if possible.
"When Ogando and Adams are available, he won't see those situations," Washington said. "When they're not available, that's when he'll see those situations. The improvement is the secondary stuff."
Scheppers did see some more time in clutch situations in June when Ogando, Mark Lowe and Koji Uehara all saw time on the disabled list, but pitching down the stretch is a completely different story.
"You don't know how anybody's gonna react when things get huge," Washington said. "One day he's gonna have to be in that position. He'll get that opportunity as it presents itself."
Washington said that "opportunity" could be next year and added that Scheppers "is our future."
Scheppers has one save and 26 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings with a 4.13 ERA.
Profar sends bat to HOF, earns second start
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jurickson Profar, MLB.com's top-rated prospect, proved in his first Major League at-bat that he may indeed have what it takes to succeed in the bigs after belting a homer off the Indians' Zach McAllister.
The Hall of Fame also found the moment special and requested that bat from Profar.
"He's a special 19-year-old," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's not afraid at all."
The shortstop has impressed Washington so much that the skipper put him in the lineup for Saturday's game against the Rays for his second career start in the No. 9 hole.
"I think his offense is a little advanced," Washington said. "He has a decent approach. Just give him an opportunity to stay balanced and do the things he has to do with his hands."
Washington said it will be hard for Profar to find his way into the lineup, citing that he prefers to play the players who got his team into the top spot of the American League West. Most of Profar's opportunities will come as a pinch-hitter.
The situation presented itself Friday night in a 3-1 loss to the Rays in the top of the 11th inning. Washington elected to have Profar pinch-hit for catcher Luis Martinez. Although Profar struck out, Washington said he was very impressed with the appearance.
"If I could replay it and change things, that first swing he took, I certainly wish he coulda caught it," Washington said. "It was a very good swing for a young kid to come off the bench in the first pitch he sees. He went up there and he acted like he was some kind of veteran. He really did."
Napoli ready for shortened rehab assignment
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rangers catcher Mike Napoli took batting practice and ran with a bungee cord before Saturday's game against the Rays as he continues to inch closer to returning.
Out since Aug. 10 with a strained left quad, Napoli is set to go out on a rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco as the Rough Riders continue their playoff run.
He's set to be the designated hitter the first rehab appearance and will then resume catching responsibilities. Manager Ron Washington usually likes his players to get approximately 20 at-bats, but he doesn't have that luxury this time.
"He's ready to get out of here," Washington said. "We'll probably just get him three games. That's our intention."
Napoli said Saturday that he didn't feel any pain, calling it a good day.
"I'm feeling good," Napoli said. "I'm just gonna keep on doing it every day."
The Rough Riders downed the Corpus Christi Hooks on Friday to advance to the club's first Texas League Championship and will play either Tulsa or Springfield of the North Division beginning Tuesday.
Napoli had missed 27 games for the Rangers prior to Saturday's matchup. In his absence, Texas has gone 17-10, relying on Geovany Soto and Luis Martinez to fill the void.
In 92 games, Napoli has hit .223 with 17 long balls and 40 RBIs.
Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.