CHICAGO -- The Rangers are ready to activate reliever Keone Kela on Friday and starter Yu Darvish on Saturday off the disabled list, but they are still unsure if right-hander Kyle Lohse will be ready to start on Tuesday against the Angels.
That's the most pressing question facing the Rangers pitching staff, as they get ready to open the second half on Friday afternoon against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Lohse made his first start for the Rangers last Saturday and suffered a mild right oblique strain. He still pitched five innings, allowing six runs, and spent the All-Star break getting treatment.
"I'm doing all right," Lohse said. "I didn't have that fun of an All-Star break, doing two-a-day treatments to see how good we can get this going quickly."
Lohse played catch on Thursday during a workout at Wrigley Field. The hope is to be able to throw a bullpen in the next few days to get ready for a start on Tuesday.
"We're basically taking it step by step and make sure we don't do anything dumb and make it doesn't get worse than it already is," Lohse said. "Everything is encouraging. After Saturday, I wasn't happy. It didn't feel like it was going to be something short. But we have been making progress every day, and I feel comfortable playing catch today, and we'll see where we are going from there."
Kela has been sidelined since April 19 while recovering from right elbow surgery. He did not allow a run in four rehab outings, all limited to one inning each. The Rangers are waiting until Friday to make a roster move.
"I don't see any indication he won't be ready tomorrow," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.
Darvish, on the disabled list due to discomfort in his right shoulder, said he is ready to start on Saturday after throwing 72 pitches in a rehab start on Sunday for Double-A Frisco. He allowed three runs in five innings in his second rehab outing and will be making his first Major League start since June 8.
"I had less hesitation compared to my first rehab outing," Darvish said. "Especially in the fifth inning, I felt, I'm ready to go."
Darvish has made three starts for the Rangers this season after missing 14 months while recovering from Tommy John surgery. In those outings, he went 2-0 with a 2.87 ERA while throwing a high of 88 pitches. Banister said Darvish will likely be limited to 80-90 pitches for the foreseeable future.
"I feel fine, physically and mentally," Darvish said.
The Rangers have Martin Perez, Darvish and Cole Hamels lined up to pitch against the Cubs with A.J. Griffin starting Monday against the Angels, leaving the Rangers to wait on Lohse for Tuesday.
Rangers eye hot second-half start
The Rangers open the second half with a three-game series with the Cubs in a battle of first-place teams. Banister said he did not look at this as some sort of test for his club.
Instead, Banister is more concerned about his team getting back to playing normal baseball after losing nine of 12 to end the first half.
"It's important because we need to come out and play well," Banister said. "We weren't playing well going into the break. We struggled off the mound, and we struggled defensively. We need to play well. If we play well, the wins will take care of itself."
• The Rangers will be without a designated hitter against the Cubs. Banister said Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland will both see time at first base while the Rangers are in Chicago, with Fielder likely to start the opener Friday.
• Perez is 0-for-9 with eight strikeouts in his Major League career as a hitter, while Darvish is 2-for-11 with a single and a double. Hamels has 607 career at-bats from his time with the Phillies, the most by an active pitcher. He is a .173 hitter with one home run.
• The Rangers held an optional workout at Wrigley Field on Thursday. Outfielder Ian Desmond was among those in attendance even though Banister told him to take the day off after playing in the All-Star Game on Tuesday.
• Banister said he plans to stick with the same catching arrangement after the All-Star break, which means two or three games in a row for Robinson Chirinos and then an off-day or two while Bobby Wilson catches.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. 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.