ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are close to getting Alexi Ogando stretched out so he can go into the rotation if needed. The Rangers had Ogando go 2 2/3 innings and throw a season-high 44 pitches in his longest relief appearance of the season on Friday night.Ogando, with a few days rest, said he could pitch five or six innings in his next outing if needed. The Rangers haven't made that decision but they are clearly looking at him as an option for the rotation. Ogando pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings against the White Sox so the Rangers sent him out for the ninth inning. Manager Ron Washington said the primary reason was Ogando was pitching well in a close game. The secondary reason was to get him stretched out. But Ogando allowed three runs in the ninth inning as the White Sox pulled away to a 9-5 victory. Ogando has an 8.10 ERA in six appearances since returning from the disabled list after missing a month with a strained right groin muscle. "After being off the mound for a long time, it takes time to get back in the groove," Ogando said. "It still looks to me like he's throwing the ball well," Washington said. "We're not seeing the results but it doesn't look like he's holding back and it doesn't look like his groin is bothering him. The only way he's going to get there is by throwing to batters." Ogando is one of two options for the Rangers in reinforcing the rotation after Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. The other is Neftali Feliz. He is scheduled to throw five innings and 80 pitches in a rehab assignment. It will be his fourth start on assignment and he'll likely need one more after this one. Then, if all goes well, the Rangers will have to decide if he's ready to go back to the rotation or needs to be used out of the bullpen. "Right now the only thing with Neftali is [that] he gets healthy and he becomes a pitcher for us," Washington said. "We want him stretched out as a starter. After that we can make adjustments. We're not going to rush him back, we're going to make sure he's ready."
Hamilton gets 'mental break' with day off
ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton, who is 7-for-59 with two home runs and 20 strikeouts over his last 16 games, was out of the lineup on Saturday night as Rangers manager Ron Washington decided to give him a day off."I thought he needed a mental break," Washington said. Washington said he did not consult with Hamilton before deciding to play Leonys Martin in left field. "If I tried to tell him, he would have fought me on this," Washington said. "I just thought it was time to give him a mental break." Hamilton was the American League Player of the Month for both April and May but is hitting .190 with a .374 slugging percentage in 44 games since the beginning of June. During that stretch, he has struck out 56 times in 163 at-bats. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and two RBIs on Friday that resulted in some boos from a smattering of the sellout crowd. He also got a big ovation with a first-inning sacrifice fly. Hamilton, who still put a full afternoon in the batting cage before Saturday's game, said things would get better soon. "It's going to be good folks ... fans out there, it's going to be good," Hamilton said. "Just hang in there." Hamilton said the day off is better physically than mentally. He suggested he is dealing with some physical issues. "It's a compilation of things," Hamilton said. Hamilton has also had to carry the burden of attention even though several members of the Rangers offense have been struggling. "I think the focus has been on everybody ..." Washington said. "But Hamilton is like what Reggie [Jackson] said. He's the straw that stirs the drink."
Rangers, Brewers discussed multiple options
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers aren't interested in putting infielders Mike Olt or Jurickson Profar in any trade for pitching. That includes Zack Greinke, whom the Rangers tried to acquire on Friday from the Brewers before he was traded to the Angels.The Rangers' unwillingness to include Olt in the deal did not keep the talks continuing with the Brewers. According to sources, the Brewers also proposed deals that included left-handed pitcher Martin Perez, but the Rangers weren't willing to go there. Also discussed was a deal that would have involved the Rangers sending pitchers Justin Grimm and Chad Bell, infielder Leury Garcia and catcher Jorge Alfaro to the Brewers. The Rangers were willing to do Grimm, Bell and Garcia for Greinke. The Brewers ended up trading Greinke to the Angels for infielder Jean Segura and Double-A pitchers John Hellweg and Ariel Pena. Greinke is scheduled to pitch for the Angels on Sunday against the Rays and is not expected to pitch against the Rangers during their four-game series that starts Monday at the Rangers Ballpark. "That's Angels business," infielder Michael Young said. "It has nothing to do with us. We're going to make sure we continue to focus on us and the things and what we have to do. [Greike's] a great pitcher, obviously. He's had a great career. But we have to focus on making our own team better." "They got better," manager Ron Washington said of the Angels. "They already had good pitching." The Rangers continue to have trade discussions with other teams. Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson's name has been brought up, but the Rangers' interest has been tepid, especially considering the asking price. Rays right-hander James Shields has also been mentioned. But Rays manager Joe Maddon said he doesn't expect Shields to be traded before Tuesday's 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline.
With Josh Hamilton out of the lineup on Saturday, manager Ron Washington moved Nelson Cruz into the cleanup spot. Adrian Beltre batted third. It's only the second time that Cruz batted cleanup in the past two seasons and the first time Beltre batted in the third spot for the Rangers. Mitch Moreland, on the disabled list since June 20 with a strained left hamstring, was 3-for-4 with two doubles on Friday night at Double-A Frisco. That was his third game on rehab assignment and he was back in Frisco on Saturday. The Rangers still want him to get a few more at-bats before they activate him. Leonys Martin, who will likely go back to Triple-A Round Rock when Moreland is activated, started in left field on Saturday. He has played in just 15 of 35 games and this was just his 11th start. Said Washington, "He has been working on his defense, he has been working on his baserunning and he has been working on his hitting. When we get a chance, we're going to get him down there where he can get regular work." Mitch Moreland went 0-for-4 during the fourth game of his rehab assignment for Double-A Frisco on Saturday night. He is 4-for-14 in those four games. In his first rehab appearance, Mark Lowe gave up a solo home run and struck out two batters in one inning for Double-A Frisco on Saturday night.
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.