Diekman makes long-awaited return to Rangers

Lefty reliever activated off DL; Bush, Kela making progress; Middlebooks, Jimenez, Espino added to roster

Diekman makes long-awaited return to Rangers

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers made a series of moves on Friday, including a few September callups, but one stood out among the rest.

For the first time this year, Jake Diekman is on the active roster, completing a grueling journey back from undergoing three surgeries to correct the complications he was suffering from as a result of ulcerative colitis.

"Pretty excited," Diekman said. "More excited to pitch. It's a very long road. I'm very excited to pitch in a big league game, hopefully soon. But today's finally here."

Diekman didn't have to wait long to make his season debut. He entered a sticky situation in the seventh inning on Friday: the Angels had drawn to within three runs and had runners on second and third with nobody out. But he escaped with minimal damage, striking out a batter, allowing a sacrifice fly and inducing a groundout to get out of the inning. The Rangers held on to win, 10-9.

The left-hander hadn't pitched in a Major League game since last October, but he threw in six rehab appearances over the past couple of weeks. In those outings, Diekman had a 1.42 ERA, striking out eight while allowing just three hits and walking none.

He's expected to fortify the back half of the Rangers' bullpen, settling back into the role he had prior to his absence.

"Probably get Diek out there in that familiar role he's been in before, and that's towards the back end of the bullpen," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "... I wanna get him out there just because I want to see him come out of that gate. I want to hear the song, and I want to hand him the baseball and watch him pitch. But I gotta believe that he can give us some outs towards the back end."

The emotions could've certainly been running high, but Diekman wasn't too caught up in everything. He and his fiancee Amanda moved into a new house earlier that day, so his mind was elsewhere.

"First thing today was when we moved into a new house," Diekman said. "So talking about this is the last thing on my mind. I'm more worried about Amanda unpacking everything. Once I actually get out there and sit out there and hopefully get my name called soon, then I'll start freaking out."

Bush and Kela progressing

Two other members of the Rangers' bullpen are currently working their way back into form.

Right-handers Matt Bush and Keone Kela are currently on the disabled list -- Bush with a sprain of his right MCL, and Kela with right shoulder soreness. Bush went out after his collision with Joey Gallo on a pop fly against Chicago at the end of the Rangers' last homestand, and Kela has been out since Aug. 5.

Bush and Gallo collide, leave

Kela threw a 25-pitch bullpen on Friday and could throw another one next week, and Bush could "possibly" throw one on Sunday.

"I feel alright, I'm just not ready yet," Bush said. "It just takes time. Gotta have time to heal."

Rangers beat

•: In addition to activating Diekman, the Rangers called up Will Middlebrooks, A.J. Jimenez and Paolo Espino. They designated Jhan Marinez, Joely Rodriguez and Dario Alvarez for assignment.

•: Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, whom the Rangers acquired on Thursday's waiver Trade Deadline, will report to the club on Saturday. Banister said he will talk to Gonzalez then about his first start, but it will be no earlier than Tuesday.

•: Daniels said the Rangers will consider calling up additional players on Thursday once Round Rock's season ends. Among the players under consideration are Jurickson Profar, Jared Hoying and Willie Calhoun -- who was acquired from the Dodgers in the Yu Darvish trade.

•: Elvis Andrus finished August with an MLB-high 13 doubles, tied for the second-most in a month in Rangers history and the most since Mark DeRosa had 13 in May 2006. Andrus ranked among AL leaders in hits (t-2nd with 43), runs (4th with 25) and batting average (6th with .368).

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