By Stefan Stevenson email@example.com
Derek Holland can hardly contain himself.
To say he’s champing at the bit to get back to the mound does a disservice to horses and underplays how badly he wants to return.
“I know for a fact I could get major league hitters out,” Holland said Friday after throwing his sixth bullpen session since returning to action from a strain in his left shoulder that sidelined him the first week of the season. “Everything feels good, feels live. I’m probably exaggerating by saying this, but it feels like a rocket shooting out of my arm.”
Holland feels like he’s ready to start his rehab assignment in the minors, but the Rangers are taking a more cautious approach, choosing to make sure he checks each box medically with hope of preventing another setback.
And for good reason. Holland missed most of last season with a knee injury before having a strong September.
Holland threw 45 pitches Friday and will follow that with a light session on Sunday before throwing his first live bullpen on Tuesday in Colorado and another later next week in Anaheim.
If everything goes as planned, Holland would then begin his rehab assignment, pitching coach Mike Maddux said.
“I think we’ve got to keep our fingers on the pulse of it, see where we are and how we feel,” Maddux said. “Last thing we want to do is push it too quick and have a setback and all that waiting went for nothing. I always like to err on the conservative side.”
And that’s hard for Holland, especially with a team he feels has enough to make a postseason bid.
“I’m trying everything I can,” he said. “I want to be a part of this team as much as I can to help them. We have a very good team. The expectations are high. I think we can definitely get somewhere with it. I feel like I could help this team just like everybody. I’d like to just get my role and get going.”
Could that role be out of the bullpen? The club hasn’t discussed it with Holland, but it’s an option manager Jeff Banister said is being considered.
“That’s a great question,” Banister said. “Right now we feel Derek is a starter for us. We’re going to progress his rehab as a starter.”
But if the Rangers were to stay in the postseason hunt deep into August, perhaps Holland could return sooner than expected if used solely out of the bullpen.
At the moment, Holland as a starter isn’t likely to return to the Rangers until late August or early September.
“I think he’s really most valuable to this ballclub as a starter,” Banister said. “But I think you discuss all options. Never leave any option off the table. We’d like to get him back in the starting rotation, but we want to get him back in the appropriate way that is best for him in the long run, for his career.”
And if it means helping the Rangers make a push for the postseason in 2015, maybe that’s a role in the bullpen.
“I’m glad he’s champing at the bit; I’m glad he’s excited because that means he’s feeling good,” Banister said. “We need to make sure he continues to feel good so he can progress the right way.”
Catcher Tomas Telis was called up from Triple A Round Rock to help back up Robinson Chirinos after Carlos Corporan was placed on the disabled list with a left strained thumb.
Corporan injured his thumb two weeks ago and aggravated it during Thursday’s workout in Houston.
Telis is batting .291 with five homers and 25 RBIs in 70 games with the Express.
He’s thrown out 27 of 56 runners trying to steal and leads the team with 43 runs and 82 hits. He played 18 games with the Rangers in 2014, hitting .250 with eight RBIs.
Harrison starts Tuesday
Left-hander Matt Harrison threw about 85 pitches during a live bullpen session in Houston on Thursday night.
“He looked good, a lot of movement on the ball,” Maddux said.
Harrison makes his next start Tuesday against the Rockies in Colorado.
Martin Perez is scheduled to start Wednesday’s game.
Wandy Rodriguez is expected to start Monday after going into Friday’s game as an option if Perez faltered early. Perez, however, pitched five innings.