Rangers focus on improving rotation

Rangers focus on improving rotation

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are still interested in Mariners pitcher Cliff Lee. They know they have the Minor League talent to make a trade but also realize that, given their ownership situation, the financial challenges will be tough to overcome.

So right now the Rangers are more concerned about getting their own pitchers healthy rather than getting excited about what other starting pitchers that might be available as the Trade Deadline approaches.

"We're very focused on improving the rotation internally right now," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Monday. "From a health standpoint we've got a couple of guys that we'd like to get back after the All-Star break. A lot depends on how both proceed this week."

Rich Harden, 3-3 with a 5.68 ERA in 13 starts, is on the disabled list with a strained lower back muscle and is scheduled to throw live batting practice tomorrow. He could be ready for a medical rehabilitation assignment at some point later this week or early next week. That could put him in a position to rejoin the rotation.

Derek Holland, 2-1 with a 4.19 ERA in five outings, is on the disabled list because of inflammation in his left shoulder but also has been dealing with a sprained right knee. He is in the long-toss stage of his throwing program but could be close to throwing live batting practice at some point this week. He too could be close to going out on a medical rehabilitation assignment next week.

Both could be options for the rotation after the All-Star break and before the Trade Deadline. Right now the Rangers are trying to get by with Omar Beltre as their fifth starter, but are also concerned about Scott Feldman, who is 5-8 with a 5.51 ERA.

"We're always keeping our finger on the pulse of the trade market," Daniels said. "But if we can get Derek and Rich back, that goes a long way to addressing that issue. I'd like to see Rich when he's healthy and right now he reports he's feeling good."

Holland's shoulder is not considered a problem. The knee has been what's holding him back lately.

"Right now the soreness is mostly out of his knee and he's throwing the ball well," Daniels said.

Lee and Houston's Roy Oswalt have been the most prominently mentioned candidates to be traded before the Deadline. Lee is still at the top of the Rangers' list. Others who could be moved before the Deadline include Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins, Kevin Millwood of the Orioles and Dan Haren of the D-backs.