Klein stretching out, building momentum in Triple-A

Klein stretching out, building momentum in Triple-A

SEATTLE -- The Rangers want pitcher Phil Klein to stay stretched out in case he is needed as a long reliever or emergency starter.

He wasn't getting enough work to do that at the Major League level, so he was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock on Wednesday. Klein was on the Opening Day roster, but he has pitched just three innings in 10 days. He retired all nine batters that he faced.

"Only three innings in ten days … you lose some of that buildup," manager Jeff Banister said. "We want to let him go down, stretch out and be fresh. The three innings he threw … A-plus. His fastball, breaking ball and changeup have been separators for him. There are no negatives in what Phil has done."

If anything, it's a reflection on the Rangers' rotation. Their starters have gone at least six innings in eight of their first nine games. Derek Holland's five-inning outing on Thursday is the exception, but the Rangers have not needed a long reliever.

Klein could start at Round Rock, or he could be used in relief outings of three to four innings to keep him stretched out as for his pitch count.

"More than anything, keep him on a similar routine but [pitching] more frequently," Banister said.

Darvish throws live BP
Yu Darvish, recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, threw 30 pitches in a live batting-practice session on Wednesday at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Darvish had a full warmup in the bullpen, and then he threw 30 pitches to Frisco players Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Joe Jackson. Frisco catcher Kellin Deglan was behind the plate.

"I saw the video, and it looked really good," pitching coach Doug Brocail said. "Pretty effortless."

The plan is for two more live batting-practice sessions on Sunday and next Thursday. The first one would be 45 pitches and the next would be 60. If all goes well, the next step would be a rehab assignment in the Minor Leagues.

Rangers beat
• Catcher Chris Gimenez, on the disabled list while recovering from an infection in his left ankle, has started playing catch again, but he is still limited in his baseball activities.

• Pitcher Luke Jackson, who started the season on the disabled list with a stress reaction in his lower back, has been activated and optioned to Triple-A Round Rock.

• Catcher Michael McKenry is catching five innings in games in extended spring training. He was left in Arizona to continue his recovery from surgery on his right knee last August.

Josh Hamilton, on the disabled list because of inflammation in his left knee, is taking batting practice in extended Spring Training, but he is not yet ready for game action.

• Holland threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Mariners on Tuesday, lowering his career ERA at Safeco Field to 1.96. That's the fifth lowest among pitchers with at least 45 innings at that park.

• Left fielder Ian Desmond went into Wednesday's game hitting .114, and Banister said, "Obviously he is not off to the start, numbers-wise, where he wants to be. What I have grown to know about Ian is this is a guy who wants to be really good for his ballclub. He's got [three] Silver Slugger Awards. The swing is good.The last couple of games, he has been getting closer."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.