Roy Oswalt said he feels like it’s 2010 again. The Rangers sure hope so after announcing the veteran right-hander will start his first game for Texas on Friday.
“I think I’m ready to go,” Oswalt told the media via teleconference Wednesday.
Oswalt made four minor league starts after signing with Texas on May 29. The last one, on Sunday, lasted six innings. Oswalt stretched himself out to 100 pitches, throwing 70 of them for strikes.
“It may take a game here and there to get acclimated to the big leagues, to the pace of the game,” said Oswalt, whose first start will be at home against the Colorado Rockies.
“I think I’m ready for it. My arm strength (is fine) and my body is feeling great.”
What kind of pitcher will the Rangers be getting in Oswalt? He’s a three-time All Star who won 20 games twice during nine-and-a-half seasons with the Astros.
He spent the last season-and-a-half in Philadelphia, where he started just 23 games in 2011 because of back trouble. That injury, plus his age (34) played a role in Oswalt not signing with anyone at the start of this season.
During his four minor league starts for Texas, Oswalt said he never experienced any health issues and got stronger with each outing.
“I don’t think, really and truthfully, I’m no different than I was in 2010,” Oswalt said. “In 2010 in Philly I felt like I had the best year of my career… I don’t feel any different from then.”
If Oswalt has anything like his 2010 season in 2012, that’s great news for the Rangers. Oswalt started 33 games in 2010, won 13 of them, and pitched 211.2 innings with a 2.76 ERA.
The Rangers currently have three starters on the disabled list: Neftali Feliz (elbow strain), Derek Holland (shoulder fatigue) and Alexi Ogando (groin).
Because of the injuries, the Rangers called up Justin Grimm from Double-A Frisco to make a start last Saturday. Grimm will remain in the rotation while Scott Feldman, who had a solid outing in a 7-3 win over the Padres on Tuesday night, will return to the bullpen as the long man.
The Rangers had planned for Oswalt to make as many as three more starts in the minors before being ready, but his extended outing Sunday convinced all parties he was ready.
Rangers team president Nolan Ryan watched Oswalt throw a bullpen session Tuesday in Round Rock before the decision was announced Wednesday.
“The biggest thing down here (in the minors) was to get up to around 100 pitches and see where I was at physically. I felt pretty well after my last two starts,” Oswalt said. “The last game I was able to throw more quality pitches.”
Oswalt said he doesn’t see much of an advantage in going against a National League team in his first start. Since the Astros and Phillies were in different divisions, he estimated he pitched against the Rockies once a year.
“I was just hoping I was going to get to hit,” Oswalt joked.
Following Oswalt’s start Friday, Colby Lewis will start for Texas on Saturday followed by Matt Harrison on Sunday.
The Rangers will have to make moves to both the active and 40-man rosters to make room for Oswalt, but those decisions have not been announced.