Brocail's edict to relievers: Pick up the tempo

Brocail's edict to relievers: Pick up the tempo

SEATTLE -- Pitching coach Doug Brocail has laid down a mandate to his relievers: They need to pick up their tempo and pace on the mound.

Brocail said the slower pace is why his relievers have had trouble throwing strikes.

"Get the ball and throw it," Brocail said. "We're too slow. We get a guy buried in the count, then walk around the mound, kick the dog, pick up the rosin bag, mess with our hair. ... 45 seconds have gone by and the hitter forgets you have him buried. Everybody has been told. ... step it up a little bit."

Rangers relievers entered Saturday's game with the Mariners with a combined 5.03 ERA, the third highest mark in the American League. Their 1.53 WHIP was the second highest.

"Sometimes [when] it's not going good, you start over-thinking things," Brocail said. "You hope that's not the case but being a [former] reliever, that is the case. A slow pace leads to balls and not being sure. Once you throw the ball across the plate, you should know what you are going to do next."

Rangers relievers picked it up on Friday night with six scoreless innings in a 3-1 victory over the Mariners. Sam Dyson, Matt Bush and Alex Claudio each threw a scoreless inning but Tony Barnette showed the biggest improvement. He gave the Rangers three scoreless innings on a career-high 37 pitches, dropping his ERA from 7.56 to 5.56.

"It has to do with the rhythm of the game," Barnette said. "Get the ball, work hard, throw strikes and keep the game moving. It's easier for a team to play defense behind a pitcher who is throwing the ball, attacking the zone and getting hitters to swing.

"I'm not saying last night was the best I've ever thrown. It's still a work in progress. I'm not happy where I am but it was a great step forward."

Ross has simulated game Monday Tyson Ross felt good in a 30-pitch bullpen session on Friday night and is scheduled to pitch a simulated game on Monday in San Diego. Ross would throw two 15-pitch innings in that game.

If that goes well, Ross would likely be assigned to the Minor Leagues on a medical rehabilitation assignment. His first start would be three innings and 45 pitches, followed by four innings and 60 pitches. If those two starts go well, the Rangers would decide if he is Major League ready for five innings and 75 pitches or if he needs more time in the Minor Leagues.

Ross, signed as a free agent in the off-season, is in the final stages of recovery from off-season shoulder surgery to relieve the symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome.

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.