Rangers mull their options for Hamels' next start

Club could push lefty back to Monday to face Houston

Rangers mull their options for Hamels' next start

SEATTLE -- Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels was fine on Wednesday, one day after getting hit in the left shoulder by a line drive off the bat of Jesus Sucre. Hamels said the shoulder felt like he had a booster shot in the area.

"I'm sure everybody can relate to that," Hamels said.

Hamels should be ready to make his next start on Sunday against the Athletics. That is, unless the Rangers push him back one day so he can pitch against the Astros on Monday.

Manager Jeff Banister said the Rangers are still giving that idea consideration. That was reinforced when Chi Chi Gonzalez pitched just two scoreless innings for Triple A Round Rock in a playoff game against Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

Gonzalez could take Hamels place on Sunday against the Athletics. That way, Hamels can open the series against the Astros on Monday.

"That's a possibility but we're still not getting too far ahead of ourselves," Banister said. "It's all about what we do today. That affects things going forward."

If Hamels pitches Sunday, he would miss the upcoming four-game series against the Astros. He would also likely miss a three-game series against the Astros Sept. 25-27 in Houston.

"They are important because they are head-to-head," Banister said. "But I like the rhythm of our rotation and how they are feeding off each other. I believe in the momentum factor. It's real, you see it in different rotations and on different clubs.

"We will continue to have internal discussions about our options without disturbing the rotation the way it is."

If Hamels pitches Sunday, the Rangers could get five starts out of him down the stretch including the last game of the season. If he is pushed back to Monday, he would likely have just four starts left. But he would potentially be rested to pitch the first game of the playoffs.

If Hamels pitched the last game of the season, Derek Holland would be in position to pitch the first game of the playoffs, whether the Wild Card playoff game or the first game of an AL Division Series.

"With that being said, let's not get off the importance of today," Banister said. "That doesn't become important until that day. If you look too far forward, you make moves that don't help you in the interim."

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.