ARLINGTON, Texas — The ever-changing appearance of the Texas Rangers pitching staff took on another look Thursday.
The club has tabbed Justin Grimm, a right-hander pitching for Double-A Frisco, as their starter for Saturday’s game against Houston. To make room for Grimm on the active roster, the club will put right-hander Koji Uehara on the 15-day disabled list Saturday. Uehara strained his right lat last Saturday in San Francisco.
The club will also move right-hander Neftali Feliz to the 60-day disabled list, which will keep him out until at least July 18.
The three moves won’t be official until Saturday, but they continue a busy three weeks for the Rangers. Texas didn’t make its first roster move of the season until May 21, but as of the Saturday moves, four of the team’s 12 Opening Day pitchers will be on the disabled list.
Grimm will be the eighth pitcher to start for the Rangers in the last month. A 2010 draft pick, Grimm was 8-3 with a 1.87 ERA in 13 starts for Frisco.
“We looked at all the options, the guys on the big-league club and obviously the guys down below and felt that, overall, as far as both putting together our bullpen and looking at the starting options, we felt Justin was the guy most ready to help us win a ballgame and step into this role,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “We look at him as he’s one of our five starters. It might end up being a spot start, just depending on how things go.”
Grimm got the news from Frisco manager Steve Buechele on Thursday. He said his heart was racing and his knees were wobbling. He said his goal going into spring training was just to make the Frisco roster.
He’s gone above and beyond now.
“It was very overwhelming,” said Grimm, who relies mainly on a fastball and slurve. “It was kind of unexpected. I’m excited to be here and ready for the opportunity.”
While Grimm fills the need at starter, Texas is trying to change pieces in its bullpen again as well.
Uehara hurt himself last Saturday pitching in San Francisco and likely won’t pick up a ball for two weeks. His loss creates another void in the bullpen and moves both left-hander Robbie Ross and right-hander Mark Lowe into more prominent roles.
“My bullpen is in good shape,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We’re going to miss Uehara. We’re going to miss (Alexi) Ogando being down there. We’re going to miss (Thursday starter Scott) Feldman being down there. Of those three, Feldman is the only one standing, and now he’s helping us in the starting rotation. This will give Robbie Ross and Mark Lowe and all those guys an opportunity to step up more and I believe they will.”
Ross had starting experience in the minors, but he’s too important to the Texas bullpen to move into the rotation. Like Grimm, Ross had never pitched higher than Double-A before this year. He’s now 6-0 with a 1.30 ERA as a reliever.
“I don’t care how successful your starting pitching is, you need a bullpen,” Washington said. “You can’t find a successful team out there without a bullpen. Don’t have one and see where you end up.”
One pitcher who could still help out in the rotation soon is Roy Oswalt.
Oswalt has made three starts in the minor leagues and will make another one Sunday for Triple-A Round Rock. Oswalt, who threw a bullpen at Rangers Ballpark on Thursday, is slated to throw around 100 pitches.
He still has work to do before he can help the ailing rotation.
“The bullpen looked good today, but he’s still going to have another start,” Washington said. “It could be better. He knows that also. The thing is he’s coming out of it healthy. He’s just got to get us deep in some games and let us know he can get deep.”
The Feliz move isn’t a setback, just a procedural move to clear up a spot on the team’s 40-man roster for Grimm. Feliz, who is out with a sprained right UCL, could begin a throwing program Monday.