ARLINGTON -- Matt Harrison, who is almost a year removed from lumbar spinal fusion surgery, could celebrate that anniversary by going on a medical rehabilitation assignment next week.
Harrison made his fourth start in extended spring training on Thursday, pitching five innings against the Royals. He allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits, did not walk a batter and struck out nine. He threw 77 pitches.
Harrison is scheduled to return to Arlington this weekend and throw a bullpen session on Sunday. If that goes well, the Rangers could send him on a 30-day rehab assignment in the Minor Leagues.
Harrison won 32 games for the Rangers as a starter in 2011-12 but has been limited to six starts the past two seasons because of back trouble. He had fusion surgery on June 3, 2014.
Harrison is ahead of Derek Holland, who is on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his left shoulder. Holland, who hasn't pitched since April 10, began his throwing program on Thursday by playing catch for 20 throws at a distance of 60 feet.
• Delino DeShields played three innings at second base on Wednesday in the Rangers' 12-3 loss to the Indians. Manager Jeff Banister is comfortable putting him there if needed but doesn't see DeShields starting at second base. Said Banister: "That would be a stretch. He has played there three innings."
• Ryan Rua, on the disabled list because of a fracture in his right heel, is taking full batting practice and doing other baseball activities. He has been working out in Arlington, but the Rangers may make a decision this weekend about sending him on a rehab assignment.
• Kyle Blanks, who is on the disabled list because of a Pilonidal cyst, is also able to go through full baseball activities.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.