Rangers' Grilli determined to keep pitching

Veteran still showing good velocity, ability to miss bats

Rangers' Grilli determined to keep pitching

ARLINGTON -- Rangers reliever Jason Grilli has a picture of himself in his locker from last season in Toronto. Grilli had a 3.64 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP for the Blue Jays when they went to postseason.

"That guy is coming back next year," Grilli said.

He turns 41 in November but he doesn't care. His fastball still averages 92.4 miles per hour. He has a 5.89 ERA for the Rangers but also struck out 24 in 18 1/3 innings.

"I'm planning on playing," Grilli said. "I don't see why somebody doesn't have a need for an experienced pitcher who strikes out guys and throws in the low 90's. There is room for somebody like that in this game."

The Rangers acquired Grilli from the Blue Jays on July 2, looking to add veteran experience and leadership to a young bullpen. He did not allow an earned run in his first six games, then was touched for four earned runs in one-third of an inning in a 22-10 loss to the Marlins on July 26.

Grilli had a 2.70 ERA over his next 10 outings before allowing five runs in 2 1/3 innings over his first three outings in September. He has not pitched since Sept. 6 as the Rangers have turned to some of their younger relievers.

"I don't feel they have gotten all of Jason Grilli," Grilli said. "I didn't get a chance to do what I did when I first came here. Would I like to stay? Sure ... but I didn't come here to babysit, I came here to pitch."

Finishing the season

The Rangers have a few players pursuing personal milestones, including Joey Gallo trying to get to 40 home runs and Nomar Mazara reaching 100 RBIs. But Rangers manager Jeff Banister said it's just important for those two and a few others to get a feel for finishing a complete Major League season.

Banister compared it to a runner finishing the full 26.2 miles of a marathon for the first time.

"There is nothing about pulling up short of the finish line that is good," Banister said. "You get to see what it takes to condition yourself to finish it off."

Rangers beat

• Rangers reliever Jose Leclerc said he is planning to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He is planning to take a month off and then go pitch for Gigantes del Cibao.

• Rookie reliever Richard Rodriguez said he is considering playing this winter. The Rangers are planning to shut down their other two rookie relievers, Nick Gardewine and Yohander Mendez.

• All nine starters for the Rangers in Thursday's game were under 30 years old. That's only the fourth time since 1994 that the Rangers had that kind of lineup. They did it twice in 2004 and once again in 2005.

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.