Infielder-turned-pitcher West newest pen addition

ARLINGTON, Texas -- In an effort to bolster an overworked bullpen, the Rangers promoted 25-year-old right-handed reliever Matt West from Triple-A Round Rock. West will be available for tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Angels at Globe Life Park in the opener of a four-game series.

To make room for West, Tuesday night’s starting pitcher Phil Irwin will head back to Round Rock. Irwin was scheduled to start Sunday’s final game before the All-Star break. Rangers manager Ron Washington said no decision has been made on a Sunday starter.

“We needed fresh arms in the bullpen and Irwin wasn’t going to be available for a couple of more days," Washington said. “West has been throwing the ball well."

West, a Houston native, hasn't had a typical route to the big leagues. In 2007, he was drafted by the Rangers in the second round as an infielder. The Rangers converted him to the mound in 2011.

“It was either pitch or get released," West said.

West missed almost the entire 2013 season after Tommy John surgery, but he impressed the Rangers this spring. He began 2014 with Double-A Frisco and in eight appearances was 2-0 with an 0.68 ERA in 13.1 innings.

At Round Rock, West had a 2-2 record with a 4.50 ERA in 19 appearances. Combined, he is 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 10 walks in 37 1/3 innings.

“He’s just now getting to full strength after surgery," Washington said.

West said he had a little pitching experience at Houston Bellaire High School. “I’d come in for the seventh inning and throw as hard as I could."

West’s progression this season isn’t about developing one pitch but “knowing where the ball is going and fine-tuning all my pitches."

Just visiting: Prince Fielder was a clubhouse visitor Thursday and said he was feeling fine after undergoing surgery on a herniated cervical disc in his neck.

“I’m just hanging around with the guys a little bit," Fielder said. “I miss this part the most. (It's) something I took for granted."

Fielder, 30, said the neck injury caused him to lose feeling in his hands. He couldn’t pinpoint a time when he first began to experience pain.

“I have complete trust in what the doctor is doing, and now I have to wait for it to heal," he said.

Fielder batted .247 with three home runs and 16 RBI in 42 games before going on the disabled list. Asked if his neck injury hurt his numbers, Fielder replied, “I don’t think it helped. Things happen. I wish it hadn’t."

Fielder has six years remaining on his Rangers’ contract.

“I’m happy to hear all the pain is gone," said Washington. “What happened he couldn’t prevent."

The manager is hopeful that after a full recovery, Fielder can produce as he has in the past.

“We’re looking forward to him getting back on the field and helping us," Washington said.

Testing times: Washington calls the Rangers’ current skid -- 18 losses in 21 games -- one of the toughest he’s been a part of. “I’ve been through tough stretches as a player and tough stretches as a coach. My job is to lead through it."

Notes: The Rangers announced infielder Donnie Murphy rejected an outright assignment to Round Rock and has been placed on waivers for the purpose of his unconditional release. … Geovany Soto has been transferred from Round Rock to Frisco on his injury rehab assignment. … Reliever Jason Frasor has allowed runs in his last four appearances. Said Washington: “Every time he throws a pitch where he doesn’t want it to go, they hit it. It happens. When you’re going good, they pop those pitches up."