Mike Minor, the Texas Rangers’ originally scheduled starter for tonight’s game against the Anaheim Angels, has been scratched due to back stiffness, the team announced. Drew Hutchison, originally slated to pitch Saturday, will pitch tonight instead.
The Rangers have a six man rotation right now, since adding Hutchison, and between that and Wednesday’s off day, the team can skip Minor, move everyone up a day and still have everyone pitching with an extra day’s rest until Tuesday, when Ariel Jurado would be pitching on normal rest. The Rangers haven’t announced the rotation for the weekend, but it would seem like the easiest thing to do would be to move everyone up a spot. Alternatively, the Rangers could bring Yohander Mendez up and plug him into the rotation, while sticking with the six man setup.
The Rangers also have uncertainty surrounding third baseman Adrian Beltre and outfielder Delino DeShields. Beltre tweaked his hamstring earlier this week, and while he isn’t on the disabled list right now, the indications were that it was still a possibility, but the team wanted to give him an extra day or two to see how it responded. DeShields, meanwhile, was hit on the hand on a bunt attempt last night, and while it initially appeared he would leave the game, he stayed in and finished his at bat. He was replaced by Carlos Tocci in the 8th inning, however, and after the game the beat guys say he had his finger in a splint, so it may be that DeShields has a broken finger.
One would have to think that there’s almost certainly a d.l. move coming today to get at least one extra position player up. If just one of Beltre or DeShields is unavailable, that leaves the Rangers with a two man bench, and if both are unavailable they are down to a one man bench. The Rangers could put Minor on the disabled list retroactive to August 14, which would allow him to be activated on Friday, August 24, to re-join the rotation after next Thursday’s off day and pitch in San Francisco against the Giants, which would allow them to get an extra bench guy up while they wait and see on Beltre and DeShields. Or they could put both Minor and DeShields on the d.l., and bring up a position player for the bench, as well as either an extra arm for the bullpen or another bench guy.
If the Rangers need an extra bench player, Willie Calhoun, sent down yesterday when Nomar Mazara was activated, would seem to be an unlikely candidate to return, since the absence of Beltre opens up a hole in the infield, and DeShields being out opens up a hole in center field, and Calhoun is limited to left field and DH, positions already covered. Drew Robinson could come back up, as he can play all the infield and outfield positions, giving the Rangers more flexibility.
Alternatively, or if the Rangers look to add a pair of bench options, Scott Heineman could come up. Though not currently on the 40 man roster, Heineman is a righthanded hitter who can play all three outfield positions, and who earned a promotion to AAA Round Rock in early April after a red-hot start in Frisco. Heineman is recently off the disabled list, and is slashing .290/.353/.415 on the season. The 25 year old is Rule 5 eligible this offseason, and has been discussed as someone who could be in line for a promotion to the majors in September, if not sooner, so if DeShields lands on the shelf, or if both DeShields and Beltre are unavailable, Heineman could get a look.