OAKLAND -- Catcher A.J. Pierzynski has been taking swings off soft-toss pitching the past two days, and he will progress to normal batting practice when the Rangers return to Arlington this week. If all goes well, Pierzynski could go on a medical rehab assignment Sunday and be activated on Tuesday.
That's the earliest day he can return after being sidelined with a strained oblique muscle in his right rib cage.
"It's definitely getting better," Pierzynski said. "We said at the time I did it, the doctors and the trainers said it would be a month, and Friday will be a month. I have been taking swings and they have been free and easy."
Pierzynski last played on May 5, but he tried to play through the injury for two weeks before finally going on the disabled list.
"I probably shouldn't have played with it, but what the heck," Pierzynski said. "Sometimes you have to take a step back before you take a step forward. I understand why they put me on the disabled list, but it's also really boring."
Rangers want to avoid multiple innings for Scheppers
OAKLAND -- Tanner Scheppers earned his third win of the season on Tuesday night by pitching two scoreless innings in the Rangers 6-5 victory over the Athletics. Manager Ron Washington said on Wednesday he still wants to stay away from using Scheppers more than one inning at a time.
"We certainly needed two innings out of him last night," Washington said. "Thank God it was a cool night so he was able to stay strong and go back out there. But we don't like using him in multiple innings."
Scheppers has appeared in 17 games for the Rangers, and he has pitched more than one inning in just five of those appearances. Only three times has he pitched two complete innings.
"We'd like to use him just one inning so we have him the next day," Washington said. "Sometimes you have to push the envelope, and last night was one of those nights. Our intention is to use him for just one inning. We haven't discussed plans for constantly pitching him in multiple innings."
Scheppers has emerged as the Rangers No. 1 right-handed setup reliever. He entered Wednesday's game with a 0.45 ERA, having allowed just one run in 20 innings. He is also one of three American League relievers with three wins.
Moreland looks to maintain month-long streak
OAKLAND -- Mitch Moreland's two home runs on Tuesday night give him six for May. That's the most in the American League. He is hitting .347 with a .796 slugging percentage, which is also the highest in the league. Overall, Moreland is hitting .296 with nine home runs, 18 RBIs and a .547 slugging percentage.
"I'm just going up there trying to have good at-bats and get a good pitch to hit," Moreland said. "I've been able to do that so far, hopefully I can keep doing it. If you stay with your approach and work at getting a good pitch and get the barrel to it, the home runs will come. It's not something you try to do. Not many guys go up to the plate trying to hit home runs and actually do it."
The next step for Moreland is to increase his RBI production. He is hitting .200 with runners in scoring position and while he is one of 15 players with at least nine homers, he is tied for 38th in the league with 18 RBIs. Of the 15 players with at least nine home runs, Moreland is one of two who have not driven in at least 20 runs.
"When you get guys on base, it's easy to put more pressure on yourself to get the job done," Moreland said. "But we've got guys like [Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz] who come up big for us. I just want to help out a little bit ... keep grinding out those at-bats."
Moving up in the lineup should help, but it may be a temporary promotion. Moreland started the season at the bottom of the order, but he has moved into the middle of the lineup with A.J. Pierzynski on the disabled list and David Murphy just now starting to overcome his slow start. Moreland has batted either fifth or sixth in nine straight games. He did not bat higher than seventh through May 5, which was Pierzynski's last game before being retroactively placed on the disabled list.
Manager Ron Washington said Pierzynski will move ahead of Moreland in the batting order when he returns. Washington said the big factor is Pierzynski's experience.
"When Pierzynski comes back, Mitch will drop down to where I feel he fits, even with his hot streak," Washington said.
• The Rangers will continue to face right-handed starting pitching into next week. The Athletics' rotation for the three-game series against the Rangers is expected to be right-handers Bartolo Colon, Dan Straily and Jarrod Parker. By the time the Rangers face Parker, they will have faced 10 straight right-handed starters.
• Derek Holland, on letting a 3-0 lead get away from him on Tuesday night by allowing two runs each in the fifth and sixth innings: "I let that one get away from me. They beat me. My guys gave me some runs. I didn't have my best stuff, but I battled. I was erratic and I couldn't get in a rhythm. I was battling to keep my team in the game, but unfortunately the A's got the best of me. I wasn't executing a lot of my pitches."
• The Rangers signed former Blue Jays pitcher Scott Richmond to a Minor League contract and assigned him to extended spring training. Richmond was pitching with the Lotte Giants in the Korean Professional League.
He was 9-14 with a 5.27 in 36 games, including 27 starts, for the Blue Jays in 2008-09 and '11-12. He was 8-11 with a 5.52 ERA in 24 starts and three relief appearances for the Blue Jays in '09, but he had a two-year run of shoulder problems.
• The 10th-inning home runs by Beltre and Moreland on Tuesday marked only the second time in club history the Rangers have had two players hit home runs in the same extra inning. Chris Davis and Murphy did it in the 12th inning on June 25, 2009 in a 9-8 win over Arizona.
• Pitcher Kyle McClellan (strained lat muscle) is being assigned to Double-A Frisco on Thursday and will pitch one inning on Thursday.
• Martin Perez, who was just activated off the disabled list, is being assigned from Frisco to Triple-A Round Rock and will start on Thursday vs. Colorado Springs.
• Pitcher Justin Miller is scheduled to be sent on rehab assignment effective Friday. He is on the 60-day disabled list and is 13 months removed from Tommy John surgery.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.