After two-month absence, Griffin set for return

Beltre serves as DH, which was planned; Diekman nears rehab assignment

After two-month absence, Griffin set for return

ARLINGTON -- As one starting pitcher exits the rotation, another is set to return. A.J. Griffin is set to make his first start on Thursday against the Twins at Target Field since being placed on the disabled list on May 27 with a left intercostal strain.

Griffin has been through four rehab starts with three of the Rangers' Minor League teams, holding opponents to a .231 batting average.

The journey back has been long, but he's ready to finally take a Major League mound again.

"I didn't think it'd be this long. ... I thought it took a little bit longer than I expected," Griffin said. "With the way that everything was going, with the Trade Deadline and everything, we didn't really know what we were doing yet, so I was just trying to hang tight and stay positive and just control the things that I could control. That's just to go out there and prepare myself to help the team win when they give me the opportunity."

Griffin leaves game with injury

Rangers manager Jeff Banister said they're shooting for 90-95 pitches for Griffin, but the right-hander wasn't too concerned with his pitch count.

"I'm sure they [have a limit]," Griffin said. "But I'm just going to go out there and throw my pitches and just try to get everyone out until they take me out."

His start comes after the Rangers traded Yu Darvish to the Dodgers on Monday, but the trade hasn't affected how the pitching staff -- and the clubhouse as a whole -- views the season. Griffin says the plan is to win as many games as they can, even though one of their aces is gone.

"It's part of the game," Griffin said. "You see stuff like that develop over the season, but it's something as a team we've got to overcome. We've got a great group of guys here. We're a solid crew, so we're going to go out there and take it to whoever we're playing that night and do what we can. If we come together as a team like we can, I have a good feeling about the last couple of months."

Rangers beat

• Adrian Beltre was the Rangers' designated hitter on Wednesday, but it was planned ahead of time to give the third baseman a day where he was able to rest his legs. Banister said he and Beltre discussed it over the weekend, and they targeted Wednesday as a day to let him take a day off from the field.

Beltre finished Wednesday's game 1-for-3 with a sac fly in Texas' 5-1 win over the Mariners.

• Left-hander Jake Diekman threw live batting practice on Wednesday, and he's planning to throw another on Saturday. The next step, Banister said, would be a Minor League rehab assignment, but they're not sure where those outings will be just yet.

Sam Butler is a reporter for MLB.com based in Arlington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.