Holland edges closer to returning to Rangers

Holland edges closer to returning to Rangers

ANAHEIM -- Rangers left-hander Derek Holland threw 48 pitches in a live batting-practice session before Texas' 7-6 win over the Angels on Saturday at Angel Stadium. His next step will be a bullpen session in Arlington and then a medical-rehabilitation assignment in the Minor Leagues.

"I just wanted to make sure everything was working," Holland said before the Rangers faced the Angels. "I wanted to make sure they saw everything they needed to see."

The Rangers did.

"He threw the ball well," manager Jeff Banister said. "It was coming out hot and clean. His fastball had good carry. We didn't have a radar gun, but my eyes told me it was solid coming out of his hand. His breaking ball was sharp and his changeup was good."

Holland has been on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his left shoulder. He has pitched just one inning this season, in the home opener on April 10 against the Astros. Holland is eager to pitch in a game, but the Rangers are not going to rush him.

Holland's first outing is scheduled to be about 30 pitches over two innings.

"When he is ready to come back to a Major League environment, we want to make sure he has done everything applicable to pitching at the Major League level," Banister said.

Hamilton sits against left-hander

Josh Hamilton wants to play every day, but he was out of the starting lineup on Saturday, with left-hander Hector Santiago set to start for the Angels. Hamilton had played in seven straight games.

Hamilton said he tried talking his way into the lineup, but Banister stuck to the original plan. Banister said he wasn't trying to rest Hamilton. He wanted to put his best lineup on the field, and that included Ryan Rua's right-handed bat in left field.

"This is not about a day off," Banister said. "This is about the right combination of hitters. We have had limited success against left-handers, and we're looking for something."

The Rangers still have concerns about keeping Hamilton healthy, especially with his tender hamstrings. Hamilton said they have been fine in Anaheim but were "barking" in Denver.

"Must have been the high altitude," Hamilton said. "The biggest thing I told [Banister] is this whole days-off thing, we'll be in a position soon of it not happening. He said, 'Right, 100 percent.' Me asking that and saying that lets him know that I feel better playing every day."

Worth noting

Adrian Beltre played in his 2,500th Major League game on Friday. That ranks him 55th all-time. He is also second among players from the Dominican Republic behind Julio Franco. The former Rangers second baseman played in 2,527 games.

Keone Kela leads all American League pitchers with 46 appearances.

• Rangers hitters entered Saturday leading the Majors with 23 bunt hits.

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.