Right-hander facing free agency after long run as starter
By Sam Butler
ARLINGTON -- Rangers right-hander A.J. Griffin has made two appearances in relief since being moved from the starting rotation, and he's done well.
Griffin has given up one run in each appearance, but overall he's made an effective transition after having his role changed for the tail end of the season. However, the Rangers don't view him as a relief pitcher long term, given that he's made 38 starts for them the past two seasons.
"I think he's thrown the ball well out of the bullpen," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "I think A.J. is a starter. He's helped us out in the bullpen. Can he pitch out of the 'pen? He's shown us some success."
Banister didn't get to watch Griffin's last relief appearance live -- he was away from the team over the weekend to be with his mother -- but even watching from afar, he liked what he saw. The Rangers are hopeful that will translate to being a starter beyond this season, should Griffin, 29, re-sign with them as a free agent this offseason.
"Every time I've seen him -- even watching him on TV, didn't get to see the last outing live -- he attacked the strike zone, used the curveball," Banister said. "When he does that, he has success, whether it's as a starter or reliever. I still view him as a guy that can start."
The tough part of managing Griffin's workload over this last week of games is figuring out a proper frequency to avoid overworking him. The Rangers have to figure out what kind of strain his right arm can take multiple times per week and adjust the routine differently than that of a starter.
"This guy's had some arm issues in the past, so we'll be mindful of that. We haven't seen any indication that we couldn't bring him back to back," Banister said. "I just don't know that right now he has been conditioned for that."
• The plan is still to use Yohander Mendez out of the bullpen. The Rangers like his ability to face lefty-on-lefty situations, but the long-term plan is for Mendez to be a starter.
• Banister said Willie Calhoun is set to receive more at-bats over these next few games. He has received just one at-bat since Sept. 16 while the Rangers were on a recent road trip.
• The Rangers are donating the proceeds from the Texas 2 Split 50/50 Raffle on Monday to relief for the victims of Hurricane Maria. The funds will go to United for Puerto Rico (Unidos por Puerto Rico), the charity Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez -- a Puerto Rico native -- is involved with.