Ogando, Uehara close to returning

Ogando, Uehara close to returning to Rangers

Ogando, Uehara close to returning
ROUND ROCK, Texas -- If the way Alexi Ogando and Koji Uehara have pitched during their rehab assignments is any indication, they should be ready for the big leagues soon.

Ogando, who threw a scoreless first inning for Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday, did not allow a run in two innings out of the bullpen on Saturday night, while Uehara followed with a scoreless seventh inning.

Both made what should be their last rehab outing and are expected to return to the Rangers next week. Neftali Feliz, who has been on the disabled list since May 22 with right elbow inflammation, will start for Round Rock on Sunday and pitch two innings.

Uehara, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list June 15 with a strained lat muscle, gave up one hit, struck out one and threw 24 pitches, 16 for strikes. He allowed a one-out single through the right side of the infield to Bryan Anderson, but got Ryan Jackson to ground into a fielder's choice before Adron Chambers flew out to left field to end the inning.

"I felt good," Uehara said. "I have to admit I was a little reserved, but I'll be okay. There was no tenderness at all. I felt good physically."

Like his first appearance with the Express two days ago, Ogando was dominant. Ogando, who has spent over a month on the DL with a strained right groin, struck out two while retiring the side in the first inning of Round Rock's 3-0 loss Thursday evening.

In the fifth inning on Saturday, his first inning of work, Ogando gave up an infield single before striking out the side in the sixth. Ogando threw 26 pitches, 18 for strikes. He is expected to be activated on Tuesday.

"Ogando threw great," Express pitching coach Terry Clark said. "He was down in the zone. He mixed up his pitches well. His slider tonight was much better than it was last time he was out there. He threw some really good changeups. He located his fastball and got it up to 99 mph. I think he's healthy, no question."

Ogando threw bullpen sessions last Tuesday and Thursday in Chicago while the Rangers played a three-game series against the White Sox before throwing a bullpen session at the team's facility in the Dominican Republic.

Ogando is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA and has held opposing hitters to a .175 batting average this season, striking out 35 and walking seven in 34 2/3 innings. He last pitched on June 10 during his only start of the year in San Francisco, before going on the DL two days later.

Uehara is one of five Rangers pitchers currently on the DL. Colby Lewis (forearm tightness) is scheduled to start against the A's on Wednesday with Ogando and Uehara possibly returning by that time.

Feliz, who is on the 60-day DL, will make at least two starts with Round Rock, the second likely coming July 18 in Albuquerque, when he is expected to pitch three innings.

"Last year, we went through a situation where we didn't use anybody. Nobody got hurt," Clark said. "It kind of goes in cycles. We've been lucky enough to have the guys in Triple-A fill in for those guys while they're hurt, good arms like [Tanner] Scheppers and [Michael Kirkman]. [Justin] Grimm went up and [Martin] Perez is up there. They're all guys with great arms."

When the Rangers pitching staff starts to welcome its injured members back, Uehara wants to be a part of it.

"I want to make sure that I will be included in that circle," Uehara said. "Obviously I want to go back to the team as soon as possible, but at the same time, the team is doing well without all the injured players. We'll be okay."

Feliz, who is 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA this year, is expected to make four Minor League starts before returning to the Rangers. The plan is for Feliz to throw four to five innings in his third rehab start and six in his fourth, in what should be his final outing on July 28 in Memphis. That would put him on track to be activated in early August.

Christian Corona is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.