Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Buzz: Washington won't dwell on hot August
By Gregg Bell
Special to ESPNDallas.com
SEATTLE -- Ron Washington isn’t taking time to put his Texas Rangers' reviving August into perspective.
He’s too focused on getting through Wednesday, this weekend against the Minnesota Twins -- and September.
Asked before the road trip finale against the Seattle Mariners if he has taken stock of his team going 18-6 through the first 24 games this month -- second in the major leagues only to the Los Angeles Dodgers' 20-6 entering Wednesday -- the Rangers manager said: “No, because at this point in the year it’s about the day to day going down the stretch.
“I know we’re playing well,” Washington said. “To be in the hunt we needed to play well. And we did.”
Big time. The Rangers entered Wednesday winners of six of their last eight, and their 21-6 record since the morning of July 29 is the best in baseball.
Texas was six games back of Oakland in the American League West on July 29. The Rangers entered Wednesday 2½ games ahead of the A’s atop the division, the same margin they’d had since Saturday.
The 19-4 stretch from July 23 through last Friday matched the 1977 team for the best 23-game run in Rangers history. Their 77-55 record entering Wednesday was the franchise’s third-best 132-game record, one game off 2012’s start and two games behind 1999’s.
As for the cynics who point out the Rangers haven’t faced a team with a winning record since Oakland on Aug. 4, 22 games ago, Washington doesn’t have time for them, either.
“Hey, (they’re) on the schedule,” the manager said. “You’ve still got to play the games.”
Reloading for September: The Rangers are about to get an influx of three veteran pitchers returning for the stretch run.
Washington reiterated that the Rangers plan to activate Neftali Feliz on Sunday, when rosters expand. That will be 13 months to the day after the 25-year-old right-hander had Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery in his pitching elbow.
The manager also said the team is likely to active Nick Tepesch from the disabled list. And Washington said there is a chance right-hander Alexi Ogando, on the disabled list since Aug. 20 with inflammation in his pitching shoulder, may be ready to join Texas’ bullpen next week, too
Feliz was the Rangers’ closer in 2010 and 2011, then a starter to begin last year. He hasn’t pitched for Texas since May 18, 2012.
Feliz was scheduled to throw two or three innings Wednesday in another minor-league rehabilitation assignment for Triple-A Round Rock. Sunday at Round Rock was the first time this year he had thrown two innings.
Washington said Feliz won’t be throwing multiple innings in any September games for the Rangers.
“The purpose to do that (at Round Rock) is instead of him going back-to-back days there. It’s for building arm strength,” Washington said. “It has nothing to do with him throwing two innings when he gets here.”
Ogando is a different matter. He could be a multiple-innings pitcher and perhaps even be a spot fifth starter -- though Travis Blackley, Sunday’s starter against Minnesota, has been good so far in that role for Texas since arriving in a minor-league trade from Houston Aug. 14.
Ogando, a 2011 All-Star, threw in the Safeco Field outfield Wednesday morning, his fifth consecutive day of long toss. He is likely to throw a bullpen session Saturday in Arlington.
Tepesch, on the disabled list since July 7 with right elbow inflammation, pitched two innings plus two batters Tuesday in his first rehabilitation outing for Double-A Frisco. He allowed three hits and an earned run, walking one in 41 pitches. The Rangers said he felt fine following the routine outing.
Tepesch could also be an innings eater, if the Rangers decide to go that route.
“He could pitch out of the bullpen (in September). We haven’t decided that,” Washington said. “The way things are going he might be out of the bullpen.”
That way is far better for Washington than it was this time last year, when the Rangers struggled without many choices for a fifth starter while Oakland rallied past them to win the division.
“It gives us length,” he said of the pending additions to the pitching staff. “That’s what you want in September. And we got it. We have options.”
Darvish for September: Yu Darvish (12-5, 2.68 ERA) starts on Friday when the Rangers begin a mini three-game homestand by hosting the Minnesota Twins.
Darvish said his goal is to focus on not changing anything entering the final month of the regular season.
“The most important thing is to not think this is a special month,” he said through an interpreter after a pregame workout Wednesday. “I think I’m going to approach it like April, May or any other month.”