The Rangers desperately need to get their injury-ravaged pitching staff in order.
A 7-2 loss to Oakland on Monday, the Rangers' seventh defeat in the last nine games, provided another example: A close game got away late due to the jerry-rigged bullpen's inability to put hitters away.
About getting things in order: It seems to be one step forward, one step back for the Rangers' rehabbing pitchers.
Right-hander Tommy Hunter enjoyed a strong rehab outing for Class AAA Round Rock on Monday, right up until his last pitch, on which he suffered a tweak of the groin strain that sent him to the disabled list to start the season. On the other hand, right-hander Scott Feldman may make his first rehab appearance of the season before the end of the week after getting through an extended spring training game with no issues Monday.
Rangers officials said Hunter hurt his groin on his 79th pitch Monday. The pitch finished off the sixth inning against Nashville. Hunter allowed one unearned run on six hits and no walks while striking out two. He will have an MRI exam on the groin Tuesday.
Hunter suffered a moderate groin strain March 24, throwing the pitching staff into a degree of disarray from which the team has not fully recovered. He had no problems last week and was perhaps one more outing away from returning. He will be re-evaluated by Rangers team physician Keith Meister.
Meanwhile, Feldman pitched 4 1/3 innings of an extended spring game Monday. Though the line was ugly -- seven hits, six runs (five earned) -- he was cleared to take the next step in his recovery after having microfracture right knee surgery in November. He will return to Arlington, throw a bullpen session for pitching coach Mike Maddux in the middle of the week and could make his first official rehab start Saturday.
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