Banister 'flying without a net' without long man

Banister 'flying without a net' without long man

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister admitted that he is "flying without a net" by not having a long reliever.

The Rangers could have been in trouble on Thursday if Lucas Harrell had not survived his early-inning troubles. Instead he fought his way through six innings, although he gave up six runs and threw 118 pitches.

Harrell's toughness in the intense heat was remarkable, but it was a reminder that the Rangers don't have a true long reliever.

"I was ultra-aware of that going into the game," Banister said. "Yeah, the Flying Wallendas didn't have a net either."

The Rangers went with eight relievers early in the season, with such pitchers as Phil Klein, Cesar Ramos and Nick Martinez identified as long man. Right now they are going with seven relievers with the extra player on the bench. If the Rangers went with eight relievers, they would have to cut loose either Drew Stubbs or Delino DeShields.

"You take away one of the position players, and it takes away some of the usage we have been able to deploy," Banister said.

Left-hander Alex Claudio is the one reliever best equipped to handle long relief, but he has not allowed a run in his last nine innings, and Banister has been using him in middle and late situations.

Brocail on Diekman: According to pitching coach Doug Brocail, reliever Jake Diekman needs to make a minor adjustment in his delivery. Brocail said Diekman has altered his arm slot so that he is slinging the ball instead of throwing it.

Diekman has allowed four runs in his last two innings after not allowing a run in his 11 previous appearances.

"With a cross-fire, three-quarters delivery, there are a lot of mechanical pieces," Banister said. "Hitters have game-to-game slumps, too. It's not optimum, but it does happen. I'm sure he and [bullpen coach Brad Holman] and Brocail are very aware of it."

Scheppers getting close: Reliever Tanner Scheppers, who has been on the disabled list all season while recovering from surgery on his left knee, is scheduled to throw 25 to 30 pitches of batting practice on Saturday.

If all goes well, he could be sent on a rehab assignment, with the option of being a September callup.

"Everything is feeling good," Scheppers said. "I'm doing everything I can to be some kind of piece in some kind of way."

Scheppers still needs to build up endurance, and the Rangers would like to see him pitch back-to-back games.

"He has a good arm; electric stuff," Banister said. "If he can pull it off, he would be a nice, fresh arm."

Rangers beat
• Reliever Shawn Tolleson, who was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock on July 29, has been placed on the DL with a strained lower back. Tolleson has a 12.46 ERA in four games at Round Rock.

• Left-hander James Jones has been placed on the DL at Class A Hickory with an elbow impingement. He is trying to make the switch from being an outfielder.

• Infielder Kyle Kubitza, who was designated for assignment on Wednesday, has been claimed off waivers by the Braves.

• The Rangers played their longest game of the season on Thursday, at four hours and three minutes; the temperature at first pitch was 98 degrees. According to Baseball Reference's weather records, dating back to 1998, that was the second-longest game with a first-pitch temperature of at least 98 degrees. The longest was also at Globe Life Park, and that was a four-hour, 21-minute game against the Indians on Aug. 31, 2000, with a first-pitch temperature of 100 degrees.

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.