Buzz: Jeff Baker suffers setback

July, 2, 2013
7/02/13
6:24
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers utility man Jeff Baker's right hand is in a new splint after he received a second cortisone shot Monday for his sprained thumb.

Baker went to see a hand specialist Monday after taking five swings in the batting cages Friday afternoon. He was unable to control the bat head. Baker, who injured his thumb during a high-five that went wrong with an unnamed teammate, has been out since June 13.

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The Rangers' initial hope was that Baker wouldn't have to go on the 15-day disabled list, but it hasn't worked out that way, a source of frustration for Baker.

"I’m kind of past the frustration of that," Baker said. "Now it’s just busting my tail and doing whatever I can with treatment and therapy. Our doctors are obviously doing everything they can."

The Rangers miss Baker's right-handed bat in the lineup. He had nine home runs in 82 at-bats. Jurickson Profar, who is batting .257 with three home runs, was in Tuesday's lineup as the designated hitter because manager Ron Washington needed a right-handed bat against Mariners left-handed starter Joe Saunders.

Baker said he'll be in the new splint for three or four days. He's hopeful that the latest shot in the joint area will speed up his recovery.

"It’s like a sprained ankle," Baker said. "You want to try to strengthen it and build it up, but it’s also a pain tolerance [issue]. Any time you have a sprain, you have a tear in there. If you keep beating it up, it’s not going to heal. I tried to push it and progress it to see if I could get past that threshold. Off the tee and soft toss was fine, but during [batting practice] I couldn’t do it."

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Rangers tweak bullpen: The Rangers made a minor adjustment in their bullpen Tuesday, recalling right-hander Josh Lindblom from Triple-A Round Rock and designating Kyle McClellan for assignment.

Lindblom, who has made four starts this season after converting from being a reliever, will give the Rangers two long relievers. Right-hander Ross Wolf, who has excelled in that role, will continue there.

"They both can be used in multiple roles," Washington said. "If we use one on one day, we have another one. The thing about them is when they do come out of the bullpen, they can give us more than one inning, which is what you like to have."

General manager Jon Daniels said the club should know in the next few days if it's likely that McClellan will stay with the organization. McClellan, who had shoulder surgery last July, was pushing himself to get back to the form he had with St. Louis for five seasons.

He is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in seven relief appearances since his contract was purchased from Round Rock on June 9. Daniels said the Rangers would like to keep McClellan, but it's his choice.

"Right now, he needs a little bit more time to get the arm strength back," Daniels said. "He was really ahead of schedule from surgery. He’s still less than 12 months off from surgery. In the long-term prognosis, we just felt like he needed a little more time. Maybe we were a little premature in pushing him and bringing him up here."

Wolf, who worked three scoreless innings Saturday after not pitching for two days, could take on a more demanding role, pitching in some short-relief situations. The Rangers have liked how he's reacted to every role they've given him, from spot starter to pitching six-plus innings in an 18-inning game against Toronto last month.

"I just know that I have a guy that knows how to do his role," Washington said. "We sat on him one time eight or nine days, and he still was able to come in and give us four innings. So that's amazing right there."

Profar at DH: Washington said it wasn't easy to put a rookie in the lineup at designated hitter Tuesday, but in need of a right-handed bat, he went with the 20-year-old Profar.

"I needed another right-handed at-bat," Washington said. "I could have gone with [Robinson] Chirinos, but Profar is swinging the bat."

Profar in the outfield: Profar is making progress in the outfield, going through all of the drills, but Washington said his young player isn't ready to start a game yet.

"If there's a blowout either way, I might take a chance and shoot him out there and give him a chance out there under those conditions," Washington said. "I don't think I'll throw him out there and take a chance on him doing something [in a close game].

Beltre OK: Rookie outfielder Engel Beltre wasn't in the lineup Tuesday, but he was available to play.

Beltre, who had a knee-to-knee collision with Cincinnati catcher Devin Mesoraco on Sunday, said he's a little sore but ready to go. He was also hit in the ear on the throw home by Reds pitcher Mat Latos, but he's having no problems and didn't need a concussion test Sunday as he returned to play.

Cotts, Nathan share honor: Relievers Neal Cotts and Joe Nathan finished in a tie for the Rangers June Player of the Month award based on voting by local media members who cover the team on a regular basis.

Cotts was 4-1 with a 0.59 ERA for June as he continued his storybook season after having not pitched in the big leagues since 2010. Nathan had a 0.63 ERA and held opponents to a .133 batting average. The Rangers closer had 11 saves for the month, tying him with Baltimore's Jim Johnson for the big league lead for June.

Lewis update: Rehabbing right-hander Colby Lewis (elbow) threw a 37-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday and will have another one on Thursday. He could be ready for a live batting practice session after that.

Harrison extends: Left-hander Matt Harrison (back surgery) threw 25 times from 120 feet on Tuesday and will continue with that long toss schedule all week.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.322 14 53 52
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 14
RBIA. Beltre 53
RA. Beltre 52
OPSA. Beltre .880
WY. Darvish 9
ERAY. Darvish 2.92
SOY. Darvish 159