Signs point to Choo returning this weekend

Rangers to evaluate outfielder after instructional league game Wednesday

Signs point to Choo returning this weekend

ARLINGTON -- The clock is ticking on whether Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo will be able to be activated from the 15-day disabled list Friday, so the team can evaluate his health heading into the American League Division Series. But Rangers manager Jeff Banister said all signs are positive after Choo played his first instructional league game Monday.

Choo, who's been on the disabled list since Aug. 16 recovering from left forearm surgery, went 3-for-5 with a double and two walks, and played seven innings in right field, in his first instructional league game. Choo played seven innings in right field for the second straight day Tuesday, going 2-for-5 with a walk, a hit-by-pitch and a stolen base. He's expected to play nine innings Wednesday, then Banister, general manager Jon Daniels and others will evaluate if he's ready to go Friday for the team's final series of the regular season against the Rays.

"The bone healed well," Banister said. "He kept his body in shape. He had some things with his core that he wanted to work on and he was able to work on them during this process. Baseball activity-wise, he was able to do everything but swing the bat pretty much the entire time."

Choo's sliding catch

Banister said he's not concerned with Choo's ability to throw, even though the fracture occurred on his throwing arm. He would be more worried if it was an elbow or shoulder injury.

Eight-man bullpen possible

Banister said the Rangers are leaning toward using eight relievers behind a four-man rotation in the postseason. That would mean four players on the bench.

The Rangers used seven relievers and five position players during last year's AL Division Series against the Blue Jays. The Rangers can change between each round of the postseason and the decision could be affected by who they face in the ALDS. But right now the club is looking at the possibility of an eight-man bullpen.

Jeffress gets out of the 7th

"I'm leaning more that way," Banister said. "Possibly no traditional long reliever and the extra reliever allows us to really shorten the game if we need to. The one thing we have been able to do in our bullpen, other than [closer] Sam Dyson, is multiple-inning stints for all our guys. We are comfortable with that part."

The Rangers are also getting more confident that Jeremy Jeffress and Tony Barnette are options for their postseason bullpen. Jeffress retired all four batters faced Monday. It was his first outing since being sidelined since Aug. 23 while dealing with personal issues. Barnette hasn't pitched since Sept. 4 while recovering from a strained oblique muscle in his left side. But he is back in the bullpen as of Tuesday and could get two or three appearances before the end of season.

Rangers beat

Mitch Moreland went into Tuesday's game hitless in his past 15 at-bats and Rougned Odor was hitless in his past 18. Said Banister, "You'd love for these guys to get going ... we all know positive results give players momentum."

• Rangers players met before Tuesday's game to vote on postseason bonus shares. Players who were on the active roster for a full season get full shares, Players who were active less than full season who will have their amount determined by a vote of the players, as will field staff members. Last season, Rangers players received a full share of $34,074.40 for reaching the ALDS. Members of the World Series champion Royals got $370,069.03.

• Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, going into Tuesday's game, had thrown out 39 attempted basestealers, the most in the Majors since Gerald Laird threw out 40 for the Tigers in 2009.

Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas. 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.