ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are not going to put Roy Oswalt on the fast track to the big league. Pitching coach Mike Maddux said the plan is for Oswalt to throw two or three innings in his first start at Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday."He still has to go through the Spring Training program," Maddux said. "We're going to work on the side of caution. Get ready one time and not risk any setbacks and have to start over. He's one with that." Starting pitchers usually have five or six outings in the spring. They start out at 20-30 pitches and increase that by 15 pitches per outing. Oswalt has been throwing approximately 65-85 pitches in his bullpen sessions prior to signing with the Rangers. That might put him ahead of schedule, but he'll still likely need at least four starts in the Minors before he's ready. Maddux spoke with Oswalt on Wednesday. Maddux was Oswalt's pitching coach in Round Rock when it was the Astros' Double-A affiliate back in 2000. "He's a 20-game winner, he works fast and he throws strikes," Maddux said. "When he's healthy, he's a pretty valuable asset. It just might be a while." Maddux said he has no concerns about Oswalt getting such a late start to the season. "You get him coming in at midseason, he's pretty fresh," Maddux said. "It will be a pretty good boost. When you go through the dog days of August, it will be like his May." Rangers general manager Jon Daniels cited one more factor that weighed in favor of signing Oswalt. With an extra Wild Card added this season, there could be more teams competing for playoff spots and less teams trading away players at the Trade Deadline. "If you can make a preemptive move, it makes a lot of sense," Daniels said.
Hamilton feeling much better
ARLINGTON -- For the first time in several days, Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton can say that he's feeling better.Head congestion and an upper respiratory condition has hampered Hamilton since the Rangers returned from Seattle last week. He missed Monday's series opener against the Mariners but returned Tuesday night, homering in the sixth inning driving in all the runs the Rangers scored in a 10-3 loss. "I guess all the medications they've been giving me are finally starting to work," Hamilton said. "I feel a lot better today. I'm starting to get a little un-cloudy. It's a good thing. After going a season-high 11 games without a home run, Hamilton has homered in three of the past four games in which he's played, including a two-run walk off home run in the 13th inning of Saturday's 8-7 win over the Blue Jays. Hamilton was visibly fatigued after that game but has nearly made a full recovery. He says he has benefited in some ways from being under the weather. "When you run to a spot and see stars when you get there, you don't need to be running around," Hamilton said. "You don't want to feel sick. At the same time, you're not trying to do too much. You're focusing more on the task at hand, whatever it may be. It has its good and bad, advantages and disadvantages. "I'm not 100 percent yet, so hopefully it'll stick around for a few days," Hamilton said. "[Being sick] lets me know I need to get out of my own way more often and not try to do too much and just focus on the task at hand.
Andrus gets 'mental' day off
ARLINGTON -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, who committed an error in the Mariners' six-run eighth inning Tuesday night, got a day off on Wednesday.Alberto Gonzalez replaced Andrus at shortstop and batted ninth while Ian Kinsler took over for Andrus in the leadoff spot of the batting order as Michael Young moved up to second. Andrus said he would be available if needed to pinch-hit. "It's more of a mental day off," Andrus said. "You don't realize, when you play hard every day that, mentally, you're going to get a little tired. That's what I've felt the last few games. My body feels good, but mentally I'm starting to feel tired." Andrus set a team record by going 55 straight games without committing an error at shortstop earlier this year in a streak that stretched back to last season. But manager Ron Washington noticed Andrus make several defensive mistakes recently and decided to let him sit out the finale with the Mariners. "He needed a break," Washington said. "Some of the defensive lapses he had were usually because he was mentally fatigued. It was nothing to do with the physical; he's busting his butt. When you don't react to certain things, you just need a break." With the team taking a day off on Thursday before Friday's series opener against the Angels, Andrus gets a two-day break. "It's awesome," Andrus said. "Taking one day off is really good. Two is like a vacation." "It's the perfect time," Washington said. "He gets tonight. He gets tomorrow. He'll be ready to go when we get to Anaheim."
Rangers tell Feliz to focus on getting healthy
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers don't want Neftali Feliz worried about his spot on the pitching staff. That was the message they conveyed when Feliz met with manager Ron Washington and assistant general manager Thad Levine on Wednesday, one day after the Rangers announced the signing of pitcher Roy Oswalt."Just get healthy, that was the specifics of it," Washington said. "Focus on getting healthy right now. He can't even pick up a ball. Once he touches a ball, we'll see where he is. Right now, I don't think any of us knows what will happen." Feliz went on the disabled list on May 21 with a sprained right elbow. He has been shut down from throwing for four weeks and will be reevaluated at that point. Feliz is 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearance. "I still see myself as a starter, but I'm not worried about it," Feliz said. "It was nice of Washington to talk to me, but I'm just focused on getting healthy." Right now Scott Feldman is the Rangers' fifth starter. Oswalt is not expected to join the rotation until late June. "We'll just see what happens," general manager Jon Daniels said. "Neftali is still 2-3 weeks away from seeing the doctor and getting a potential green light to throw. Roy is 2-3 weeks away from joining the big league staff. We're going to roll with what we have now."
Brad Hawpe has been placed on the disabled list at Double-A Frisco with left elbow fatigue. He has been trying to come back from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery that took place in August.
The Rangers used closer Joe Nathan in the ninth on Tuesday night even though they were losing, 10-3. Washington said Nathan was willing to pitch so they could give Koji Uehara and Yoshinori Tateyama needed rest. Said Washington, "That's being a great teammate, that's what that is." Alexi Ogando gave up three runs in the eighth inning on Tuesday night but said his right hand was fine. He was hit in the hand by a line drive on Sunday but said that was not a problem for him anymore. Said Washington, "He's fine physically. He'll get it together." Yu Darvish, who starts on Saturday against the Angels, on the back stiffness and intestinal problems he had on Sunday against the Blue Jays: "Honestly it's not that bad and it's getting better. Hopefully it will get better in the next two days." Double-A Frisco outfielder Val Majewski was promoted to Triple-A Round Rock Wednesday while outfielder Ryan Strausborger was activated off the disabled list, replacing Majewski on the Frisco roster.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Christian Corona is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.