Rangers bring Tomko back to major leagues

Right-hander Brett Tomko is back in the major leagues for the

first time since 2009, returning to where he pitched his last

game.

The Rangers purchased Tomko’s contract Wednesday from Triple-A

Round Rock. Texas plans to use him as a long reliever, and he was

in uniform for the series finale against the Los Angeles

Angels.

The last time Tomko pitched in the major leagues was at Rangers

Ballpark on Sept. 14, 2009, when he threw a five-hit shutout for

Oakland against Texas. He also felt a pop in his arm in the ninth

inning, but finished that game before it was determined he had a

nerve problem.

”Driving back in here, it was strange, it was surreal,” Tomko

said. ”It’s been an interesting journey to get back here over the

last year and a half. I’m pretty excited.”

The Rangers are the 10th major league team for the 38-year-old

Tomko, who made his major league debut with Cincinnati in 1997.

Tomko went to spring training this year on a minor league deal with

the Rangers, and is appreciative to have another chance in the

majors

”Probably more than I could ever put into words,” Tomko said.

”I told (Rangers manager Ron) Washington when they sent me down,

that I want to be there as much as I think I ever have, probably

more than I ever wanted to get to the big leagues in the first

place.”

Texas also recalled catcher Taylor Teagarden from Round Rock,

put rookie right-hander Mason Tobin on the 60-day disabled list and

optioned left-hander Michael Kirkman to Round Rock.

Tobin, who had Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in 2009,

came out of Tuesday night’s game against the Angels after only four

batters because of pain in his elbow. Initial results from an MRI

exam Wednesday showed inflammation in the ligament.

The Rangers got Tobin in the Rule 5 draft last December and he

made the major league roster in spring training.

Kirkman took over for Tobin in the 15-4 loss, and allowed six

runs in 1 2-3 innings. It was his only appearance this year for the

Rangers after posting a 1.65 ERA in 14 appearances late last

season.

Tomko, who spent last season in the Athletics organization, lost

both of his starts and had a 6.35 ERA in 11 1-3 innings at Round

Rock.

”I felt like I was throwing the ball really well. The numbers

are what they are,” Tomko said. ”Stuff-wise, I feel good.”

Tomko is 100-102 with a 4.65 ERA in 389 games, including 266

starts, over 13 seasons.

He went through numerous tests to determine the cause of his

nerve problem, and doctors said it wasn’t anything that could be

corrected by surgery. The best description of what he still feels

is ”like a sunburn” on the bottom of his right arm. There are

tingles at times, but he said ”in a game, it’s great.”

Tomko isn’t worried about his role for the Rangers. He just

wants to pitch.

”Whenever they tell you to go out there and pitch, you take the

ball and once you get going, you get going,” he said. ”I think

I’m too far along in my career to really worry about the role and

what it is. My goal was after the injury to come back to help

whatever staff I can be on in whatever way I can.”

Also Wednesday, former NL Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb

threw another batting practice session for the Rangers in his

comeback from shoulder surgery that has kept him out since the 2009

season opener for Arizona.

Webb, who signed a free-agent deal with Texas this winter, has

been making steady progress. The BP session Wednesday came at least

a day earlier than previously scheduled and three days after a

72-pitch bullpen session.

”It went good,” Webb said. ”It was OK. I wouldn’t say it was

unbelievable, but definitely better than last time.”

Webb wasn’t sure what the next step would be. There could be

more throwing workouts in Arlington, or he could be sent to Arizona

to pitch in extended spring training games.