Oswalt struggles in third minor start

FRISCO, Texas — If the Rangers are looking for Roy
Oswalt to replenish an injury-riddled starting rotation, they’re going to have
to wait a little longer.

Oswalt made his third minor league start Tuesday at Double-A Frisco and lasted
just 3 1/3 innings. He threw 85 pitches, 55 for strikes, and said he is at
least another minor league start away from being able to help the big league
club.

For the Rangers, who placed their third starting pitcher on the disabled list
Tuesday, help can’t come fast enough.

“I’m not going to rush and then not be ready when I get there,”
Oswalt said. “I’m going to go as fast as I can to get there. I think they
want me to go around six or seven starts; I’m trying to do it in four. We’ll
see what the next start looks like and we’ll base it off that.”

There wasn’t much to base of Tuesday’s start because Oswalt struggled to get a
feel for his curveball and slider. He couldn’t get the former over the plate
and he said the latter was a little flat.

Oswalt yielded five hits and three earned runs, while striking out three three,
but one of the strikeouts reached base on a wild pitch that bounced. He had one
walk, to the first batter of the game, but put several pitches into the dirt in
front of the plate.

“The first two games I felt real good with them [breaking pitches],”
Oswalt said. “This game, I kept on hanging on to the curveball too long. I
could never start it in the right position to make it break in there. The
slider just didn’t have the depth. I felt like I was rushing it a little bit
tonight, for some reason.”

Overall, Oswalt said he felt fine physically. He hasn’t been bothered by the
back issue that nagged him last season and said his legs were strong and his
stamina was fine.

He gave up a double to the wall in the second inning that the center fielder
appeared to lose in the sun. He allowed two more doubles in a three-run third
inning, which prompted a visit from Frisco pitching coach Jeff Andrews.

Oswalt surrendered a soft liner for a hit to start the fourth inning. After
getting the next batter to pop up, he exited the game.

“The biggest thing is I need to get deeper in a game, get up and down
seven or eight times,” Oswalt said. “So far, going only four innings
is not going to help the big club.”

Oswalt said the plan is for him to throw a bullpen session Thursday in
Arlington in front of Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, then make a start for
Triple-A Round Rock on Sunday.

Oswalt signed with the Rangers on May 29 and made two starts for Round Rock,
going 0-1 with a 7.50 ERA. Rather than have him pitch another game for Round
Rock in the thin air of Albuquerque, NM, the Rangers shifted his third start to
Frisco.

In his previous outing on June 7 with Round Rock, Oswalt was knocked around for
five runs on six hits in four innings. He also had four strikeouts.

Oswalt, a three-time All-Star, made 23 starts last season with Philadelphia and
was 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA.

His first big league start for Texas can’t come soon enough for a Rangers
rotation that now has Alexi Ogando (groin), Derek Holland (shoulder fatigue)
and Neftali Feliz (elbow sprain) on the DL.

“I have to get myself ready to pitch there first,” Oswalt said.
“I’m not going to help if I go out there and throw four or five innings
and then kill the bullpen.”

Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire