Griffin, Lohse in spotlight as trade winds blow

Rangers' pitchers look to start second half strong as club evaluates rotation upgrades

Griffin, Lohse in spotlight as trade winds blow

CHICAGO -- Right-handers A.J. Griffin and Kyle Lohse are getting ready to make their first starts of the second half for the Rangers. It comes at a time when Texas is having multiple conversations with clubs about acquiring starting pitching.

The Rangers have been most active with the Rays about right-hander Jake Odorizzi and left-handers Drew Smyly and Matt Moore. They have also shown interest in Andrew Cashner of the Padres and would be highly motivated if the Braves were willing to discuss Julio Teheran.

But right now, it's Griffin on Monday and Lohse on Tuesday against the Angels. It would be a good time for both of them to step up their game.

Griffin's strong start

"It's about going out and pitching well," manager Jeff Banister said. "It's always necessary for guys to put innings together and put games together. Back-to-back situations, that's important, the ability to back up a good start with another one. We need that from all our guys.

"I understand the question and the calendar. It's obviously necessary for all our guys to pitch well."

Griffin pitched well early, going 3-0 with a 2.94 ERA in his first six starts before going on the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder. He is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts since then.

"It's nice to be on a roll any time of the year," Griffin said. "But you can't think about that. You've got to play the game. If you play tight or put pressure on, good things don't happen."

Lohse, who was signed to a Minor League contract in May, made his first start for the Rangers last Saturday against the Twins and allowed six runs in five innings. He was also dealing with a strained oblique muscle in his right rib cage, but that issue has subsided. Lohse threw a bullpen session on Saturday and is ready to go.

"I came out of the bullpen session feeling good with minimal soreness," Lohse said. "We did a lot of work on it and feel good where it's at."

Lohse checked on by trainer

If this were 2013, Griffin and Lohse would be huge additions to the Rangers' rotation. Griffin was 14-10 with a 3.83 ERA for the Athletics, and Lohse was 11-10 with a 3.35 ERA with the Brewers after winning 16 games for the Cardinals the year before.

But this is 2016, the Rangers' rotation is reeling from injuries and there are two weeks to go before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Rangers need starters to step up sooner than later.

"I'm ready to shake hands after a game," Lohse said. "Good teams go through tough stretches. It's hard to stay hot all year. I know we've got a really good club, it's a matter of time before we get on a roll. I can't wait to contribute and do my part."

Banister not happy with Wrigley arrangement

Part of the massive ongoing renovations at Wrigley Field are the brand-new home clubhouse with an indoor batting cage next to it. That allows Cubs pinch-hitters to stay loose in preparation for their at-bat, as Matt Szczur did Friday and Saturday. He had big pinch-hit RBI singles in both games.

The visiting teams don't have the same arrangement. Their indoor batting cage is out in center field. Visiting pinch-hitters have to hit off a tee into a net on a runway behind the dugout.

"It's huge," Banister said of the difference. "Obviously, to swing the bat and see pitches, it's a huge advantage for [the Cubs] as opposed to one guy hitting off a tee into the net, no visuals. It's an advantage."

Rangers beat

• Catcher Bryan Holaday, on the disabled list with a bruised left thumb, is expected to report to Triple-A Round Rock on Monday to begin a medical rehabilitation assignment. He is eligible to come off the DL on Friday in Kansas City.

• Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo remains sidelined with tightness in his lower back. Because of the All-Star break, the Rangers could put him on the disabled list and back-date it to July 11. But Banister said the plan right now is for the Rangers to continue to see how Choo responds to treatment.

Prince Fielder is hitting .167 in his last 12 games, but he got the start at first base on Sunday. Said Banister: "You're not going to get him going sitting on the bench."

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.