ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Joe Nathan can't remember the last time he went eight days without throwing. Maybe never since he became a closer.
So he was more than happy to be back on the mound in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 7-1 victory over Tampa Bay, even in a non-save situation.
Nathan allowed a leadoff single, then got three straight outs. He warmed eight times without getting into a game during the Rangers' seven-game losing streak that ended Tuesday, so it was impossible not to feel a little rusty.
"The fact is it always feels a little weird when you've had that many days off," Nathan said. "You can't simulate the intensity of pitching in a game. It makes a big difference."
It was a significant outing for Nathan. The Rangers hold a $9 million club option on him for the 2014 season, but he can have that voided by finishing one more game.
Nathan said before Wednesday's game that he's not keeping a count in his locker, crossing off the numbers as he gets closer. "No," he said, laughing.
Ogando gets Sunday: Alexi Ogando will start Sunday in Kansas City as he again has forged his way into the starting rotation, at least for the final 12 games of the regular season.
Ogando has his fastball velocity back and 96 mph in Tuesday's 7-1 victory after being around 94 mph during August before he went on the disabled list for shoulder inflammation.
"I know what kind of weapon he can be out of the bullpen," manager Ron Washington said. "But right now he's a starter. When he came back, that's we were trying to do, get him innings and get him back in the swing of things."
Of course, there's always the question of whether Ogando will be one of the Rangers' five starters next season. He's been on the disabled list three times this year, but the Rangers have no evidence that it's because he's bounced between the bullpen and the rotation."
"I'm not concerned about next season," Washington said. "I'm concerned about tonight."
Ogando threw five innings and threw 69 pitches Tuesday night. He could be good for 10 to 15 more pitching against the Royals, Washington said.
DH rotation: Ian Kinsler was the designated hitter Wednesday night as Washington wanted to give him a day off his feet.
Jeff Baker will likely get the DH spot Thursday with left-hander Matt Moore starting. Lance Berkman was the DH on Monday and Tuesday and didn't get a hit in five at-bats. And trainers have told Washington that Berkman can't swing right-handed.
So it's a DH rotation for the rest of the season. "Whatever it takes," Washington. "We'll figure it out every day."
This is not the case of Soto being Darvish's personal catcher -- they've been paired together the last two starts. Does Washington want to avoid that perception?
"No doubt about it," Washington said. "If I decide to go with Soto tomorrow it's because it fell that way."