Daniels, Rangers look to boost pitching staff

Several injuries have front office searching elsewhere for reinforcements

Daniels, Rangers look to boost pitching staff

CHICAGO -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said he is focused on upgrading the club's pitching staff as the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.

"We want to do what makes sense for the team," Daniels said. "When the club is playing well, the front office knows this is the time of year you want to help. It's got to make sense, but we're always looking to upgrade."

It is rumored that Texas is interested in Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, although that may be off-target. Daniels declined to talk specifics, but he made it clear what the Rangers' top priority is.

"We're focused on the pitching side," Daniels said.

The Rays may have the most pitching available, with right-hander Jake Odorizzi and left-hander Matt Moore as potential targets. The Rangers have been active in talks with Tampa Bay.

Braves right-hander Julio Teheran is considered to be the pitcher possibly on the trade block who could have the most impact. Much of the other pitching available is back-of-the-rotation material such as Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, Athletics left-hander Rich Hill and Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Daniels said the conversations have increased since the July 2 international signing day passed.

"I got a lot of calls over the [All-Star] break," Daniels said.

The Rangers have interest in starting pitching and relievers, but the rotation appears to be a bigger concern, even though Yu Darvish is coming off the disabled list. Left-hander Derek Holland and right-hander Colby Lewis are both on the 60-day disabled list, and they are ineligible to return until late August.

Darvish on second rehab start

Right-handers A.J. Griffin and Kyle Lohse are filling those spots in the rotation. Lohse is dealing with a strained oblique muscle in his right ribcage, and Texas is waiting to see how he comes through a bullpen session on Saturday before determining if he can start on Tuesday against the Angels.

"He's got to be able to throw a bullpen and see where he is at," manager Jeff Banister said. "He's indicated it's gotten progressively better. We're cautious."

Holland is on the disabled list with inflammation in his left shoulder, and he has been playing catch for a week. The Rangers transferred him to the 60-day disabled list on Friday to make room for Keone Kela on the 40-man roster, meaning Holland can't return until Aug. 21 at the earliest.

"This is all about the health of the shoulder," Daniels said. "He just started throwing last week. When we mapped out a rehab program to build him back up, it takes time to get back. He is going to need at least a couple of rehab assignments. If you looked at the schedule, Aug. 19 was going to be the earliest we get him back. We just felt this was a way to make a [40-man] roster spot without losing a player."

Lewis is sidelined with a strained muscle in the back of his right shoulder, and he hasn't pitched since June 21. He is expected to be examined by Dr. Keith Meister on Wednesday in the hope that he can be cleared to start a throwing program.

The bullpen has been a concern, but the Rangers activated Kela on Friday and hope to have Jake Diekman off the disabled list next Friday. Diekman is sidelined with a lacerated index finger on his left hand.

"We're looking at ways to upgrade, but we're not going to get any bigger help than Darvish and Kela," Daniels said. "We're open to either area. We are focused on pitching."

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.