The Texas Rangers have announced that Mitch Moreland will start a rehab assignment with AAA Round Rock tomorrow, and that Josh Hamilton will start a rehab assignment on Sunday.
Moreland is eligible to return from the disabled list on May 13, and is expected to be activated at that time. Hamilton is eligible to return from the disabled list at any time, though it isn't clear as of now how long he is expected to spend with Round Rock on this rehab stint.
The returns of Moreland and Hamilton will present a dilemma for the Rangers, in regards to their roster management. It has been anticipated that two players from the group of Jake Smolinski, Carlos Peguero, Kyle Blanks and Delino DeShields, Jr., would be dropped to make room for the pair on the active roster. However, only Smolinski can be optioned. Blanks has an option remaining, but as a player with at least five years of service time, he has the right to reject an optional assignment. Peguero and DeShields, meanwhile, would have to clear waivers in order to be sent down, and in the case of DeShields, the Rangers would have to work out a trade with the Astros in order to keep him, or else return him to Houston.
Blanks would seem to be safe, as his righthanded bat helps balance out what will be an extremely lefthanded roster once Moreland and Hamilton are activated, and he's hitting .375/.412/.719 right now in 34 plate appearances. Peguero would seem to be expendable, given that he is a lefthanded hitter and the Rangers are stacked with lefties, but he has a 901 OPS. In addition, he barely has a year of service time, so if he has figured it out, he'd be under team control for either four or five years after 2015; Blanks and Moreland are both eligible for free agency after 2016.
One possibility that is seeming more and more likely is Rougned Odor being sent down. Odor has a 486 OPS on the season, and a 346 OPS in 63 PAs in the last 3 weeks. He's currently seeing Adam Rosales take some of his playing time, and the Rangers could decide to send down Smolinski and Odor, with Rosales being both the starting 2B and the backup SS and 3B, and DeShields (who was a 2B in the minors prior to 2014) playing 2B if Rosales is spelling Andrus or Beltre.
A week ago, I'd have said Odor being sent down instead of one of the 1B/COF/DH types would be inconceivable. Now, though? I'm starting to think it is the most likely scenario.