SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitcher Kameron Loe left Angel, his seven-foot boa constrictor, back in Texas. He hasn't had her wrapped around his neck since the start of Spring Training. He was joking that was the cause of the spasms in his neck and back. "That's it," Loe said. "I can't wait to get back home to her. That's my girl."
Loe reported significant improvement Friday and was able to do some light throwing off the mound. The Rangers are planning to start him Sunday against the Chicago White Sox in Tucson. "He's good to go," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. Loe, battling Jamey Wright and Bruce Chen for the fifth starter spot, was supposed to start Thursday against the Angels but was scratched because of the spasms that developed Wednesday. He wouldn't have pitched long anyway because that game was cut short by rain and Mike Wood pitched just one inning. "I'm glad it happened," Loe said. "I wouldn't want to waste an outing. To tell you the truth, it worked out great. Right now I'm feeling fine. There is just the slightest bit of soreness, but once I get warmed up, I'm fine. I've got no worries." Padilla pitches again: Vicente Padilla, who was scratched in his last start Sunday because of some elbow soreness, returned to the mound Friday and pitched five controlled innings in a Minor League intrasquad game. He had minor soreness afterward, but the Rangers still believe he's back on track. "I was happy with him," pitching coach Mark Connor said. "He threw the ball well. He threw 67 pitches. He could have gone further, but I didn't want him to. His command of his pitches wasn't good, but his third and fourth innings were good. He worked on his curve and change a lot. I was glad to see him get his work in without a problem." Padilla's last start of the spring is scheduled for Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners. Connor wants to see him one more time before he's sure Padilla is ready for the start of the season. "He really didn't pump up the intensity level," Connor said. "But I didn't want him to. That's why we pitched him in this game." Gagne gets start: On a night of threatening weather, the Rangers let Eric Gagne start Friday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers and get his one inning of work done. It was his second appearance in an "A" game. Rickie Weeks led off the inning with a single but was picked off by catcher Gerald Laird. Gagne then walked J.J. Hardy but struck out Kevin Mench and Bill Hall. Gagne has not started a game in the Major Leagues since Oct. 3, 2001. "I felt fine," Gagne said. "The difference was I really pitched tonight. I could set up hitters. To me that was huge."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.