4/20/2014 3:57 P.M. ET
Harrison says he's ready after strong rehab start
By Dave Sessions / Special to MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- A day after his most productive rehab start to date, Rangers lefty Matt Harrison was as eager as ever to get back on a Major League mound -- and he may get his chance within the next week.
Harrison will be accompanying the Rangers on their trip to Oakland and could conceivably be slotted into the rotation during the three-game series that starts Friday in Seattle.
Harrison's rehab start for Double-A Frisco on Saturday night went smoothly. He got through eight shutout innings, throwing 86 pitches and 54 strikes. He walked one and allowed three hits. Though no date has been announced, Harrison said Sunday there's no doubt in his mind he's ready to pitch for the Rangers again.
"I felt like myself again yesterday," Harrison said, "and we'll just see what happens from there."
Harrison hasn't pitched for the Rangers since April 6 of last year. He underwent back surgery and has worked his way back to the brink of returning to the rotation, much like Saturday starter Colby Lewis did over the past two seasons. Harrison said he can't wait to pitch for the Rangers again, and that he has been "lobbying for awhile" to get that chance.
"I don't think I have the words to express it," Harrison said. "I know talking to Colby, how excited he was to get back … But when I get back on that mound, I'll take a deep breath and say, 'All right, I'm back.' But take a deep breath and, 'Here we go. I'm coming after you.' It's a big difference in that. I don't want to relax just because I got back."
Manager Ron Washington said no decisions have been made on whether Harrison will rejoin the rotation or make another start in the Minors. The club wants to see how he recovers from his longest rehab outing thus far. Pitching coach Mike Maddux and bullpen coach Andy Hawkins will evaluate his next bullpen session.
"We're certainly very happy with what Harry did last night and the manner in which he did it, but we haven't had a chance to discuss a gameplan yet," Washington said. "He's going to go on the road so Mike and Hawk can get their eyes on him instead of have second-hand information."
Harrison threw up to 94 mph Saturday, the fastest he's thrown since the surgery.
"My velocity was better, I was more focused, I was on the attack and once I got through the fourth inning was when I hit another gear," Harrison said. "I allowed one baserunner after that and we stayed on the attack … It's definitely something that I haven't felt in a long time."
Kouzmanoff too hot for a day off
ARLINGTON -- Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff has done an admirable job of filling in for Adrian Beltre, hitting .395 with five doubles, two homers and nine RBIs since making his Rangers debut on April 9. His 10-game hitting streak to start his Rangers career is tied for the second longest in club history behind Fred Manrique's 11-game stretch in 1989.
In fact, Kouzmanoff has been so impressive at the plate in his brief tenure with Texas that manager Ron Washington hasn't found a way to give him a day off yet, though he'd like to.
"I already tried to do that after game number four, I wanted to give him off, but he had such a big game, I couldn't," Washington said. "And then after game number five, I wanted to give him off. He had a big game and I couldn't. Then all of a sudden I can't. I'm just going to ride him. When I see where he's looking bad or he's not getting to pitches, then I'll give him that day…. But right now, he's playing and right now he's a big part of our lineup, so it's not easy to yank him out of there."
Kouzmanoff was once again in the lineup Sunday, starting and batting fifth for the ninth day in a row.
Kouzmanoff, 32, has traveled a unique path back to the Major Leagues after two injury-plagued seasons in the Minors. He had played for four Minor League teams since his last MLB service for the Rockies in 2011. At one point the next year, Kouzmanoff was sent down to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, but he worked his way back to Triple-A and was signed by the Rangers as a Minor League free agent in December 2013.
He had a .370/.443/.593 slash line in Spring Training but was the last man cut before Opening Day. He went to Triple-A Round Rock, where he again hit well (.313 in 16 at-bats) and came to the Rangers when Beltre went down.
Washington said a resurgence like Kouzmanoff's doesn't come easy.
"It takes a lot of confidence, it takes a lot of hard work, it takes a lot of dedication, and it takes having some success," Washington said. "Once you start having that success, and success comes from confidence, then you begin to realize: I've ridden this bicycle before."
Washington explains pep talk to pitchers
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington is known for his occasional and rather unusual practice of hurrying out to the mound and briefly speaking to his pitcher. Typically that's the pitching coach's forte and the overwhelming percent of the time, it's Mike Maddux who gives the pep talks.
But Washington made one of his trips to the mound Saturday night in the eighth inning, when Alexi Ogando got in trouble against the White Sox. Ogando walked the first batter he faced and allowed a single up the middle to the next batter.
That brought up Adam Dunn, a slugging lefty in the midst of a hot start this season, and that brought Washington to the mound for some advice.
"Throw it in the strike zone, we've got a four-run lead," Washington said he told Ogando. "Make them swing the bat. You're not going to give up four runs before you get us off the field, and he didn't."
Washington said his demeanor with Ogando and other pitchers differs from Derek Holland, who has received his share of somewhat animated visits from the manager.
"Derek, I can go out there like I talk to an umpire," Washington said.
Wilson, Murphy splitting time for time being
ARLINGTON -- Josh Wilson was in the starting lineup Sunday for the second day in a row, playing second base and hitting seventh. Before the last two games, Donnie Murphy started three of four at second.
Wilson now has nine starts at second and Murphy has 10. The parity is part of Ron Washington's plan for the position until Jurickson Profar comes back in June. Both Murphy and Wilson are career utility players with nine and seven years of Major League experience, respectively. Wilson is a career .227 hitter and Murphy is at .215.
"That's what I got to work with and I want to make sure they both stay engaged," the Rangers manager said.
"I'm giving them two-game swings. I don't want one when he's sitting on the bench to be unhappy. I want him to know that he's going to play ... it's his time right now and you're going to get yours. I'm never going to sit on either one of them too long."
• Beltre (strained left quad) will accompany the Rangers on the road trip to Oakland and is still on track for an April 25 return.
• During Sunday's 16-2 loss, newly arrived Rangers prospect Luis Sardinas made his MLB debut at shortstop to start the eighth inning and collected an infield single in his first big-league at-bat in the bottom half of the frame.
• Prince Fielder drew another intentional walk Sunday, the eighth time he's been put on intentionally. That's the most by a Rangers player in any single month, surpassing Juan Gonzalez's seven in July 1996, and the most by any player in April since St. Louis' Albert Pujols had eight in 2008.
Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.