- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Harrison’s confidence that he can help the Rangers this season is on the rise, too.
“I feel pretty good about getting back,” Harrison said after throwing a bullpen session Tuesday. “I don’t know when that time is going to be, but the way I feel right now, I feel 100 percent physically. It’s just a matter of my pitch count being built back up. That just takes time.”
The next step for Harrison, the Rangers’ Opening Day starter who made only two starts this season before undergoing back surgery, is to make his third rehab start, scheduled to throw five innings or 65 pitches for Triple-A Round Rock on Friday night.
Harrison hopes he’ll need to make only two more rehab starts, which means he could potentially be ready to return to the Rangers’ rotation in a couple of weeks.
“If there’s no setback, my level of optimism is high,” manager Ron Washington said. “Right now, he’s in the process. We just have to let the process work.”
Uh-oh, Ogando: You won’t get Washington to say it, but it’s logical to believe that Alexi Ogando would be replaced in the rotation upon Harrison’s return unless the right-hander’s performance improves drastically.
In three starts since returning from the disabled list, Ogando is 0-1 with a 4.61 ERA and pitched fewer than five innings in each start. He issued a career-high five walks in only four innings, allowing three runs, in his last start against the Oakland A’s.
“Since I came back off the DL, I haven’t had a good feel for my pitches,” Ogando said through a translator.
Ogando, who is scheduled to start Wednesday against the Angels, seems aware that his time in the rotation could be running out if he doesn’t pitch deeper into games.
“It’s not that hard. I’ve just got to focus on throwing strikes and keep working hard,” Ogando said. “This should fix itself.”
If it doesn’t, the Rangers could have another solution soon: sending Ogando to the bullpen.
“Of course he needs to pick it up, but he’s not hurt,” Washington said. “If he’s not hurt, I’m not concerned. … We know he can get outs. Rather than raise the red flag, we’ll just give him the ball until he’s told otherwise.”
Berkman back soon?: Washington would love to have a bat he could depend on to be the Rangers’ designated hitter on a regular basis. That won’t happen unless Lance Berkman makes a strong comeback from a hip ailment that had him considering retirement recently.
The Rangers are encouraged by Berkman’s progress, although they have yet to schedule a rehab appearance for him.
“All I’m doing is watching him swing,” Washington said after witnessing Berkman take batting practice Tuesday. “Today is as good as I’ve seen so far.”
Short hops: Right-hander Neftali Feliz is scheduled to throw an inning for Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday. … Washington on Lewis: “We’re going to miss him. We’re going to miss his presence. We’re going to miss the big innings that he gave us. We’re going to miss what other young pitchers could learn from him about grinding, going out there and executing. He was the epitome of execution. He did it well with a bad hip. … A lot of guts, tremendous guts.”