Texas Rangers: Mike Olt
With the Rangers' starting pitching depth getting severely tested and the team needing another top-flight arm for the stretch run, general manager Jon Daniels and his staff agreed to send four prospects to the Chicago Cubs for Matt Garza a little more than a week before the trade deadline.
The Rangers shipped pitchers C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez (who was the player to be named later) and third base prospect Mike Olt to the Cubs for Garza, who is a free agent this offseason. At the time, Garza was the best pitcher available on the market and was pitching in July like one of the top hurlers in the league.
The price in prospects was high, but the trade made sense. Garza, after all, had pitched in the American League for the first five years of his career, including three successful seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays before he was sent to the Cubs. So the thinking was that making the transition from the National League to the AL shouldn't be a big issue for Garza (unlike Ryan Dempster, the Rangers' trade-deadline pickup in 2012 who struggled as soon as he arrived in Texas from Chicago).
But Garza never really materialized as that big arm down the stretch. Heck, I thought he'd slide in at the No. 2 spot in the rotation, ahead of Derek Holland and behind Yu Darvish. And I was wrong. Holland pitched better. So did rookie Martin Perez. Garza was 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 13 starts for the Rangers. In his final 11 starts with the Rangers, Garza managed just two quality starts. He had a great outing against the Kansas City Royals as the Rangers tried to grab that final wild-card spot. But he couldn't sustain that momentum, giving up five runs (though just one earned) on 11 hits against the Angels in what ended up as a win for the Rangers.
It's easy to look back and say the trade was a failure. And it was. But at the time, the Rangers' front office stepped up and made a move to attempt to strengthen the rotation. It was designed to have an impact. It did, just not in the way Texas hoped or expected.
|ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the Rangers' aggressive style of play and bullpen struggles. |
The deal was completed after the Cubs claimed Ramirez off waivers. He has been assigned from Double-A Frisco to Double-A Tennessee.
Ramirez, 24, was 9-3 with a 3.84 ERA over 21 games with Double-A Frisco this season. He led the Texas League in strikeouts (127) and ranked 5th in wins. The right-hander was in big league camp for the second straight spring after splitting the 2012 campaign between Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock.
With the completion of the trade, the Rangers have 39 players on their 40-man roster.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels had to do something. With a disabled list riddled with starting pitchers and a rotation that isn’t deep enough, the Rangers’ front office traded for the top starter left on the market, sources told ESPNChicago.com and ESPNDallas.com today.
|Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzimmons and Durrett to discuss the Matt Garza trade and if the Rangers are done shopping before the deadline. |
It was the right move. This rotation needs some help. This team needs a boost and this trade will provide it. This isn't just about trying to catch Oakland and win the AL West. It's also about getting set up for a deep playoff run. This is a solid playoff rotation with Darvish, Garza and Derek Holland as the top three, plus Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison possibly returning. It also gives the Rangers the option of sending Alexi Ogando to the bullpen if needed.
It cost the Rangers a lot to add a pitcher of Garza's quality. Mike Olt, one of the top hitting prospects in the system, goes to the Chicago Cubs. Can you imagine sending Olt in this type of deal a year ago? Well, neither could the Rangers when Zack Greinke was made available. Then, it was reported by a few folks that Texas wouldn't surrender Olt, Martin Perez or Jurickson Profar in any kind of deal for Greinke. Eventually, the Brewers took the Angels' offer headlined by Jean Segura. Texas, of course, went on to lose in the AL wild-card game and the Angels didn't make the playoffs (they didn't re-sign Greinke either, and the Brewers have enjoyed the talented Segura).
But things are different now. Olt's value isn't quite what it was, though he's still a high-end prospect who is terrific defensively at third base and has potential with the bat. He was the headliner. But there were others in this deal. Texas dealt C.J. Edwards, one of the talented young arms in the lower level, and Justin Grimm, who has major league experience and is, to keep the theme going, another young pitcher. It's a high price. But the Rangers needed to do it.
Daniels and the Rangers have done a good job of asset acquisition and development. You grab as many talented young players as you can with the hopes that some of them help you at the big league level in a Rangers uniform and others help you at the big league level by becoming trade pieces to put someone else in a Rangers uniform. They did it with Justin Smoak a few years ago, grabbing rental Cliff Lee. Garza is no Lee. But he's the best starting pitcher in a thin rotation market, and after a weekend in which some medical concerns popped up, the Cubs and Rangers got the deal done. I wonder whether Chicago took the past few days and showed that Rangers offer around, hoping to beat it. But it doesn't matter. Garza's next start is likely in the next few days in Arlington.
If the Rangers get the Garza who has showed up for the last month, their rotation becomes quite formidable come playoff time. Check out Garza's numbers from his last six starts: 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA, six quality starts, 38 strikeouts, 10 walks, .210 batting average against. That’s the stuff of a No. 1 starter. It’s also why the Cubs were in such good position to get a solid prospect package for Garza.
Just think about Darvish in Game 1, Garza in Game 2 and Derek Holland in Game 3. And that’s with 10 days left before the trade deadline. Daniels still has time to upgrade some more. You can bet he’ll try.
The Rangers needed to make this move. Did they overpay? Every team overpays for a top rental. But because they have the minor league assets, they can afford to do this and it doesn't set them back as much as it would other organizations. It sends a clear signal to this clubhouse that the front office is trying to win now. That should excite anyone in a Rangers uniform.
The bottom line: The Rangers have a better shot at catching Oakland and making a playoff run than they did yesterday.
Harrison will throw 60 to 65 pitches in a bullpen session on Monday, and, if that goes well, he will throw live batting practice on Wednesday.
That could put Harrison, at first expected to be out until late August, a few weeks ahead of that schedule.
"I'm trying to bring it up 20 pitches each time," said Harrison, who threw between 40 and 45 pitches on Saturday. "I'm feeling great."
The Rangers have desperately missed Harrison, who made two starts to begin the season before going on the disabled list on April 11. That after coming off last season's 18-win season.
Harrison has had two back surgeries to repair an inflamed nerve in his lower back and was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 25.
Ogando good to go: Right-hander Alexi Ogando threw a bullpen session on Saturday and is all clear to start Tuesday against the New York Yankees. It will be Ogando's first start since June 5 in Boston.
Ogando, who threw 80 pitches in his final rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday, is good to throw 100 pitches against the Yankees, Rangers manager Ron Washington said Sunday.
Ortiz gets nod: Left-hander Joseph Ortiz got the ball instead of Justin Grimm on Saturday night after starter Ross Wolf lasted just two innings.
Washington said he went to Ortiz instead of Grimm because he wanted to give Baltimore a different look from Wolf. Ortiz responded with 3⅔ scoreless innings, his second straight solid outing out of the bullpen.
"There's no explanation," Washington said. "He has been good."
Grimm said Sunday he was ready to come in. He hasn't pitched since a start July 12 against Detroit, when he allowed seven runs in 3⅓ innings.
Gentry is 2-hole: Washington had a new face in the second spot of the lineup for the third straight game coming out of the All-Star break.
It was Craig Gentry on Sunday after Jurickson Profar on Saturday and Elvis Andrus on Friday. Washington has had seven different players bat second with Gentry making his third start there.
The preference is for Andrus, who is 3-for-9 on the homestand, to move back into the No. 2 spot.
"I want Elvis to give me the spark there, but I'm giving him some more time to relax," Washington said.
Minor matters: Mike Olt had a three-run home run and started Triple-A Round Rock's first triple play in franchise history.
Round Rock starter Jake Brigham had his fifth straight quality start for the win. Brigham is 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA for his past five starts.
|Nolan Ryan joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the Rangers at the All-Star break and the possibility of Manny Ramirez being called up in the second half of the season. |
One of the Rangers' needs is a right-handed bat. Lance Berkman is on the disabled list and struggled in the weeks leading up to his arrival there. Jeff Baker is rehabbing with Double-A Frisco and could join the Rangers right after the All-Star break. His return should help with the club's right-handed bat needs, but that doesn't change the club's wish list to get an impact bat at the deadline.
Among the possible candidates is Rios. The Rangers have reportedly been scouting the Chicago White Sox and Rios is a player they've certainly kept an eye on. Rios is hitting .270 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs. He's also got 19 stolen bases. Against left-handed pitchers, Rios is hitting .294. He's hit in the 3-hole for most of the season.
Rios struggled for parts of June but has bounced back early in July. He'd give the Rangers a quality bat in the outfield that can play in the corners, allowing them to add some offense to the lineup.
The question, as usual, will be cost. Rios is 32 years old and is not a rental player. But he doesn't come cheap, either. He's due to make another $6 million or so this season, $12.5 million next season and there's a $13.5 million club option for 2015. The fact that he's not a rental and has a contract that allows the Rangers some flexibility after 2014 has to be appealing. And he has six teams on his no-trade list, but that does not include Texas (according to this Mark Gonzales report). So Rios is certainly intriguing. Under GM Jon Daniels, the Rangers have preferred making trades for players with more than three months left on their contract (Cliff Lee is the biggest notable exception, though back in 2010 the Rangers at least got compensatory picks when he left).
But because we're talking about a longer contract, the price in prospects could be higher. Of course, the level of prospects might also be based on whether the Rangers absorb the entire contract. Could names like Mike Olt, Joey Gallo, Justin Grimm, Nick Tepesch, Neil Ramirez and even Martin Perez be floated about in this kind of scenario? Sure. Don't be surprised to see middle infielder Luis Sardinas involved, either. But the combination of those players and how it all lines up could determine whether this makes sense for either team.
Nelson Cruz's contract expires. David Murphy hasn't proven that he can handle an everyday job and his contract is up. So the club is going to need him out there, and Rios would be an option for 2014.
I'd part with a pitching prospect or two and would consider Olt or Gallo because Rios is under club control through 2015. But the price of the contract makes me wonder if the Rangers could obtain him without an Olt or Gallo in the deal. I guess we'll see. The White Sox are in a good position. They can wait it out until they get the largest package they can. But if getting Rios means including one of the top hitting prospects in the deal, I'd do it because Rios could be a Ranger through 2015, if the club chooses.
Do you agree? Do you like Rios' bat as a trade deadline pickup and someone in the outfield next season? What would you give up to get him?
|Eric Nadel joins Galloway and Company for his weekly visit to discuss the latest Rangers news. |
There's little question as to whether or not the Rangers need a starter. They do. Sure, you can hope that everybody currently on the disabled list returns on schedule, but how likely is that? And does it really matter? I could argue the Rangers need a starter even if everybody returns fully healthy and productive. The club's disabled list rotation is impressive when you consider Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Nick Tepesch are on that list. Justin Grimm isn't on the DL, but he left Friday's start with right forearm tightness.
The bottom line: The Rangers need some more depth at that spot, especially when you start trying to put together a playoff rotation. Another top-half-of-the-rotation starter would be huge for this club.
Garza fits that bill. He's 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA with 62 strikeouts and 20 walks in 11 starts. In Garza's past six starts, he's got a 1.24 ERA. His last start a few days ago (probably his last in a Cubs uniform) was 6⅔ innings against St. Louis, in which he gave up two runs. He's pitched well against the A's in Oakland and the White Sox, giving up a total of four runs in 21 1/2 innings in those last three starts. He's shown that he's healthy and productive. He's got the numbers to slide in as the No. 2 starter in this rotation behind Darvish and help give this club a boost, but at what cost?
Garza, 29, is a free agent at the end of the 2013 season. That means any team that trades for him will not get a compensatory draft pick if he signs somewhere else (that's part of the new CBA). So we are talking about a pure rental here, assuming Garza doesn't sign long term with Texas. He'll be owed a little less than $5 million for the rest of the season. The Baltimore Sun reported that, last offseason, with one year left on his deal, Garza drew interest from the Orioles. The Cubs asked for two of Baltimore's top five prospects (as ranked by Baseball America, and both players were also in ESPN.com's Keith Law's top-100 list this offseason).
|Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss the magnitude of Monday's win against Oakland, how he plans on using Jurickson Profar and how to handle a struggling ballclub. |
The Rangers' other option at first base, Jeff Baker, was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13 with a sprained right thumb suffered when a high-five went wrong with an unidentified teammate.
Berkman was dropped out of the No. 3 spot in the lineup for the first time this season. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski is batting third while Berkman was dropped to fifth behind third baseman Adrian Beltre.
"I decided I was going to give Berkman less stress right now," manager Ron Washington said. Berkman is batting .192 in his last 21 games.
Washington said he'll make a daily call with Berkman at first base, and if he doesn't use him there, Robinson Chirinos, called up Tuesday, will get a game.
Triple-A Round Rock infielder Mike Olt was not discussed as an option at first base. General manager Jon Daniels said this weekend that Olt is where he needs to be right now as he works his way back from an early season funk and vision issues.
"We're trying to get Mike Olt comfortable," Washington said.
Andrus gets night off: Shortstop Elvis Andrus is the latest to get a day off as the Rangers try to get Jurickson Profar in the lineup. Andrus is 0-for-12 in the last three games and batting .167 the last 25 games.
"He's struggling," Washington said. "That's it."
Andrus said that his energy level could be off. He has played in a team-high 68 of the Rangers' 70 games. Beltre will be the club leader in games played if Andrus doesn't enter Tuesday's game.
"I have to take it," Andrus said of the day off. "My energy level, I don't feet like I'm doing it. I need to sit down and watch a game."
Tepesch will get another start: Struggling rookie starter Nick Tepesch will start Saturday at St. Louis despite a third straight poor start in Monday's 8-7 win over the A's.
Tepesch has allowed 17 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings in his last three starts. He lasted 3 2/3 innings Monday, allowing six runs in the fourth inning.
"He needs to start getting outs a little deeper in the ball game," Washington said. "That's what I want them all to do. He needs to starts executing a little better. He will."
Tepesch's downfall has been commanding his best pitch, his sinker. But he also made mistakes Monday with his slider and curve ball. He also has a changeup as an option, which he's used up to 10 times in a game this season, but he said his other pitches are better.
"You have your ups and downs," Tepesch said. "It's all about making better pitches."
Extra left in pen: Left-hander reliever Joseph Ortiz was one of two players recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday -- Chirinos is the other -- as the club wanted an extra southpaw available in the bullpen. The Oakland lineup is stocked with left-handed hitters -- there were seven of them in Monday's lineup -- and lefty relievers Robbie Ross and Neal Cotts have been pitching a lot.
Cotts tossed three 2 1/3 scoreless innings and picked up his third win in six appearances in Monday's 8-7 victory over Oakland. Ross has pitched 2 2/3 innings in the last three days.
No Perez yet: The Rangers haven't committed to giving left-handed starter Martin Perez another start in the big leagues even though he's 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his last four starts.
"He threw well again last night," said Washington, who didn't add anything further.
Perez could be an option soon with Tepesch and fellow rotation rookie Justin Grimm struggling, and Josh Lindblom just up from Triple-A Round Rock to fill in for the injured Alexi Ogando.
The left-handed hitting McGuiness, called up from Triple-A Round Rock, will get most of the starts while Moreland is out with a strained right hamstring, manager Ron Washington said. General manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers are hopeful this will only be a two-week injury for Moreland.
In the meantime, it's all about McGuiness.
"McGuiness is going to get the majority of the time, the same time Moreland was getting," Washington said. "I'll pick and choose with him on lefties."
Berkman started Thursday's game against Boston at Fenway Park. McGuiness arrived at the ballpark about an hour before game time.
Washington said he will determine Friday who will get the start in Toronto against Blue Jays right-hander Esmil Rogers. The Rangers will see one left-hander against the Jays, quick worker and change-up man Mark Buehrle. That could mean a Baker or Berkman start.
The turf at Toronto will also factor into Washington's decisions. He said he'll do everything he can to keep Berkman and third baseman Adrian Beltre off the poor playing surface. Beltre will not play in the field during the series, which impacts how Berkman will be used at designated hitter.
"I hate the turf in Toronto," Washington said.
The Rangers want to give McGuiness every opportunity to play so it won't disrupt other parts of the team. Plus, Washington wants to avoid wear and tear on Berkman's surgically repaired knees, though he said he's not filling out his lineup card for the next two weeks to protect anyone.
McGuiness is batting .275 with six home runs and 34 RBIs with a .382 on-base percentage for Round Rock. The 25-year-old, acquired in the Jarrod Saltalamacchia trade with the Red Sox in 2010, will be making his major league debut.
Washington has only seen McGuiness play in person once this season -- in an exhibition game in San Antonio on March 30. McGuiness was a Rule 5 Draft pick by Cleveland in December and spent all of spring training with the Indians before being sent back to the Rangers on May 27.
"Chris is a good defender at first," Daniels said. "He gives you a good at-bat and he's earned the opportunity."
Baker, the Rangers' super utilityman, said he'll do whatever he can to help. He'll also play third base, as will Leury Garcia, this weekend in place of Beltre.
"I'm always prepared and ready for whatever we have to weather through," Baker said. "I hope we get Mitch, Kinsler and Adrian Beltre healthy. All of the guys are happy with the way we've battled through this."
Berkman said he's not concerned for now about his knees or playing first base, but he will have to see how he feels with each new day. When the Rangers signed Berkman as a free agent in the offseason, he said they didn't discuss how much he'd play in the field.
He played first base in one game against Arizona on May 25 and came out of it OK.
"It was fine," Berkman said.
The bigger concern for Berkman is his slump at the plate. He has one hit and six strikeouts in his last 16 at-bats.
"I'm not getting any hits," Berkman said. "It's a bad stretch."
Olt not an option yet: The Rangers decided against bringing up infielder Mike Olt, who made eight starts at first base last season.
Olt is just now seeing regular playing time after missing a month because of vision issues. He's 4-for-8 with a home run in two games for Triple-A Round Rock after playing in three games for Frisco, where he also had a homer.
“He’s recovered from the vision issue and is doing well," Daniels said. "He needs more at-bats to catch up, but reports are he hasn’t missed a beat.”
Cotts not concerned: Reliever Neal Cotts, who has taken on an important role in the Rangers' bullpen, said he's not concerned about walking three of the four batters he faced in the sixth and seventh innings of Wednesday's 3-2 victory over the Red Sox.
"I didn't miss by much," Cotts said. "I need to get in the strike zone and be more aggressive. It wasn't a good outing."
Cotts did pick up the win Wednesday, his first victory since July 1, 2006 with the Chicago White Sox. He has allowed one run in 8 2/3 innings since joining the Rangers on May 21.
Nathan dominates Sox: Joe Nathan has converted all 16 career save opportunities against the Red Sox after Wednesday's perfect inning. Boston is one of three American Leagues teams he hasn't blown a save against, along with Detroit (36-for-36) and Baltimore 10-for-10).
That doesn't mean they've all come as easy as Wednesday's when Nathan recorded three routine groundball outs to hang onto a 3-2 lead.
"This place is always tough, every time we're here," Nathan said. "Every time I'm out there it seems like it's a one-run game. This is a tough place to get three outs."
The ESPN "Outside the Lines" story about MLB and possible suspensions has certainly sent shockwaves throughout the baseball world. What does it mean for Nelson Cruz? Well, we'll see.
|Randy Galloway says that it's in Nelson Cruz's best interest to waive his appeal and start serving any possible suspension as soon as it comes down. |
ESPN.com's Pedro Gomez told "Fitzsimmons and Durrett" on Wednesday that the likely timeline is that an appeal could take six to eight weeks. If suspensions are handed out in the next two weeks or so, it could be late August before a suspension takes effect, following any appeals.
If that's the case, the Rangers would have an interesting decision to make on Jurickson Profar. The immediate call of whether to send him to Triple-A Round Rock or leave him here is still on the table. And as we've discussed, there are a variety of options the club could consider. But depending on what happens with Cruz, here are a few options for the Rangers (in no particular order):
Now, if Cruz appeals any suspension, it could be September before he sits out. By then, rosters expand and the options increase. But you can bet the Rangers are working on contingency plans.
Olt, who was dealing with vision problems that left him batting .139 for Round Rock after 20 games, played for the first time since April 25 when he rejoined Frisco.
Olt had four hits in 12 at-bats for Frisco with two doubles and a home run.
|ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss former Ranger Chris Davis' hot streak, Ian Kinsler's injury, Jurickson Profar's performance and some trade possibilities for the Rangers. |
First, let's look at Iwakuma's contract. He is making $6.5 million this year, $6.5 million next year and the contract includes a club option for $7.5 million in 2015 (there's also a $1 million buyout on that option). Iwakuma could make $1.1 million in incentives during the life of the contract.
So the fact that Iwakuma is under team control for potentially 2 1/2 seasons would certainly intrigue the Rangers. But it also adds to what it will cost to get him. He's 32 years old and is 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 starts. He has 69 strikeouts to 11 walks and a 0.84 WHIP. He's third in the AL in ERA, first in WHIP and tied for sixth in innings pitched. He's pitched like an All-Star and top-flight pitcher so far.
|Chris Davis joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his hot start to the season with Baltimore, if he could have found his groove with the Rangers and the difference between Ron Washington and Buck Showalter. |
It wouldn't shock me if they insisted on something at the big league level now. Perhaps Justin Grimm, for instance? If Mike Olt returns to Double-A Frisco and starts hitting to increase his value, he could be an option as well. What about Joey Gallo or Lewis Brinson? Seattle needs bats and both of those young players have high ceilings. Gallo's season average has dipped to .211, but he's shown good power with 13 homers and 27 RBIs for Class A Hickory. Brinson, a center fielder, is also in Hickory and hitting .235 with 10 homers and 21 RBIs. He's got seven stolen bases, but has also struck out 84 times in 196 at-bats.
Is Alexi Ogando in this discussion? I'd include him if that's what it took. There are others, I'm sure, that could factor in.
Sure, it's a real long shot. But since Bowden brought it up, why not talk about it? What kind of package would you put together for Iwakuma? Remember, you've got to entice the Mariners to move a pitcher who has a favorable contract, so it's got to be a really good package that helps them now and in the future.
|Chris Davis joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his hot start to the season with Baltimore, if he could have found his groove with the Rangers and the difference between Ron Washington and Buck Showalter. |
Olt, who slumped badly in April and left Triple-A Round Rock to deal with issues with his vision, is set to be activated for Friday's game. Olt, one of the Rangers' top prospect who made his debut last season for 16 games in the big leagues, has been at extended spring training in Surprise, Ariz.
Olt hasn't appeared in a game since April 25 for Triple-A Round Rock. He tweeted Thursday afternoon that he was coming back to Frisco.
Olt has posted a .135/.235/.236 line with 32 strikeouts in 72 at bats in Triple-A Round Rock this season.
Lindblom, 25, has actually made his major league debut, pitching in 27 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011. Only it was as a reliever, as were the case for all 101 of his major league appearances with the Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies during the past two seasons.
Lindblom, who was made a reliever after struggling this spring training and being sent to Triple-A Round Rock, will get a chance in a different role Monday. The last time he started a game was in 2010 with Triple-A Albuquerque, when he made 10 starts and was moved to the bullpen.
"I really honestly never thought I'd have a chance to be a starter in the big leagues," Lindblom said. "But I came to an organization that really wants to get the most out of every player they have."
Lindblom has been able to expand the number of pitches he throws after throwing only a fastball and an out pitch. Now, as a starter, he can mix in his changeup, slider and curveball.
"I was really limiting myself as a pitcher," Lindblom said. "You watch all of the relievers out there going down to two pitches, a lot of them have a fastball and an out pitch. I have other pitches, and I wasn't able to use them."
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said internal discussions among the front office near the end of spring training led to the decision to try Lindblom as a starter. It's worked so far; he was 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA for Triple-A Round Rock.
"He had a four-pitch mix," Daniels said. "We thought the way he was throwing that was going to work best down there."
Lindblom has lost 14 pounds since spring training and is down to 233 pounds.
He said he's improved his mental approach to the game. He received a DVD from ex-Phillies teammate Roy Halladay on the ABCs of the mental approach to the game. He's also talked at length to Rangers teammates Matt Harrison and Derek Lowe.
"I'm focusing on things that matter," Lindblom said.
Other Rangers notes:
Olt starting hitting program: Rangers infield prospect Mike Olt has started a hitting program with Triple-A hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh.
But general manager Jon Daniels said the specialists still haven't identified the problem with Olt's vision, which has landed him on the disabled list.
"You always like to have answers," Daniels said. "You deal with what you have."
Soria update: Daniels said that rehabbing reliever Joakim Soria, one of the Rangers' key offseason signings, should be able to resume throwing off a mound at the start of June and could be ready to pitch in the big leagues in early July.
Lewis set to go: Colby Lewis will pitch at 11 a.m. Monday in Frisco in a rehab start for the Double-A RoughRiders. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who will be on the second and final day of his rehab assignment, will catch Lewis.
Minor notes: Double-A Frisco left fielder Ryan Strausborger had four stolen bases Saturday night and has 14 for the season.
“He’s seen a couple of different eye doctors that specialize in a couple of things,” Daniels said. “They have not found anything conclusive at this point. We’ve scheduled him to see another specialist in about 10 days to two weeks. In the meantime, we’ll put him on the DL based on his symptoms. We don’t want to put the guy at the plate when he’s having vision issues. Hopefully we’ll know more after he sees that specialist.”
The Rangers have yet to officially make a move with Olt, but it’s expected that he’ll be placed on the 7-day DL in the near future. Olt hasn’t appeared in a game since April 25, but he has been taking batting practice and grounders.
Olt sustained a concussion while playing in the Dominican Winter League in November. Daniels said that the possibility of that being the root of his vision problems has been discussed, but nothing has been determined.
“He said it’s been bothering him (for a while),” Daniels said. “He thought he could push through it and it would get better as he saw more live pitching. It didn’t get better and it got to a point where he reached out for some help.”
Olt has posted a .135/.235/.236 line with 32 strikeouts in 72 at bats in Triple-A Round Rock this season.
Buckel struggling: Daniels also discussed 2010 second-round draft pick Cody Buckel being sent to extended spring training.
“Obviously he’s scuffling,” Daniels said. “We tried the bullpen. Actually I saw him (in Frisco). If it was the first time you’d seen him and didn’t know he was scuffling, you just would have thought it was a bad outing. It’s not as though he’s missing wildly, but he’s missing consistently. We feel like just give him a break and send him out to extended (spring training). Obviously it’s not working for him right now. We’ll get him with (rehab pitching coordinator) Keith Comstock down there and get him back on a program to where we know he should be. There’s no set timetable on it. He and Keith will let us know when he’s ready to get back out.”
Buckel had a 20.25 ERA in 9 1/3 innings at Double-A Frisco, walking an astounding 28 men while striking out only nine.
“He’s frustrated,” Daniels said. “This guy’s always been a premium strike thrower and now that’s the part of his game that’s scuffling. So there’s a level of frustration. But these things happen. He’s 20 years old, he’s got time on his side and we’ll get him to where he needs to be.”
Daniels was asked if Buckel was seeing or had seen a psychologist to help fix a problem that doesn’t appear to be physical.
“I wouldn’t comment on that,” Daniels said. “Not just in this case, but I would never really talk about those sorts of things. We’re going to use all our resources, certainly. I do think it’s more of a mental thing than a physical thing. I don’t know what the definition of (the yips) is, but based on what we’ve heard, I don’t think that’s the case here. Obviously he’s struggling to throw strikes, and we need to get that addressed.”
Buckel earned the Rangers' Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year honor for the 2012 season when he posted a 2.49 ERA in 144 2/3 innings, while striking out 159 and walking only 48 across two levels.
Rangers manager Ron Washington said Wednesday that Berkman needs repetition at first base -- taking ground balls -- to prepare. But Washington also has said he's comfortable putting Berkman in the lineup at first base without him getting work there.
"He needs some repetition. We have to start getting him out there," said Washington, who added he hopes to get Berkman out for infield work soon. "You could put Berkman out there whether he's had repetition or not. I'm going to find out if he wants to play out there, and if he says he wants to play out there, I'm going to put him out there. You'd like to get some repetition before you put somebody into a position."
Berkman said Wednesday while it would help to take ground balls, it wouldn't be the same as being at first base in a real game. "The speed of the game is the real deal," Berkman said.
The Rangers will have to give up the designated hitter for Monday's makeup game at the Cubs and Tuesday and Wednesday at Milwaukee. Cold weather could also be an issue, though Milwaukee's Miller Park does have a roof to provide climate control.
Another issue could be taking Mitch Moreland's bat out of the lineup to make room for Berkman at first. Moreland is currently the Rangers' hottest hitter, batting .429 with six RBIs in his last nine games.
Pierzynski out again: Catcher A.J. Pierzynski, out Tuesday and Wednesday with a sore oblique, is an extra scout when it comes to his former team, the White Sox, after spending eight years with them. While Pierzynski sat by Washington for much of the game on the bench, the catcher wasn't offering up nuggets of information about his former team.
"He's was talking about anything and everything," Washington said. "Half of the stuff I couldn't understand."
Pierzynski said before Wednesday's game that the bruising in the area around his right oblique has improved and that he expects to play Thursday. Pierznyski took batting practice in the cages before the game.
Andrus is OK: Elvis Andrus is back in the lineup Wednesday after fouling a ball off his calf in the fifth inning of Tuesday's game. His calf stiffened up enough to where he couldn't move well to his left, which explains why Ian Kinsler was able to go all the way behind second base for a ground ball and get on out that brought on a full salute from Washington.
Kinsler said after the game that Andrus would usually be able to get to the ball.
"I don't usually foul the ball off my leg," Andrus said. "I've never had one like that."
Moreland in, Murphy out: Moreland was back in the lineup while David Murphy sat Wednesday. Jeff Baker was in left field to get his right-handed bat in the lineup against White Sox left-hander Chris Sale.
It's the first time either Murphy or Moreland have been out of the lineup for consecutive days. Moreland had three hits against White Sox lefty Jose Quintana and reached base all four plate appearances, giving Washington further reason to keep him in Wednesday's lineup.
"Logic would suggest that," Washington said. Murphy will play in left field Thursday against White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy, the manager said.
Washington will reach quicker: Murphy will be a defensive replacement for Baker in the eighth inning if the Rangers have a lead in a close game Wednesday night.
Washington said he should have put Murphy in the game in eighth inning of Tuesday's 10-6 victory. Baker, still nursing a knee injury, had a ball fall into front of him in the eighth inning. Baker bruised his right knee making a sliding catch in the left-corner in Anaheim last Tuesday. He's still not 100 percent, he said after Tuesday's game.
"It took a toll on him," Washington said. "He's fine. I have to make my defensive replacement earlier."
No update on Olt: Daniels said the Rangers didn't have an update on Triple-A infielder Mike Olt, who reported vision issues to club earlier this week. Olt, batting .139 for 72 at-bats, saw doctors Tuesday.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.