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Rangers look to plug significant holes in depleted staff with Ogando out 4-6 weeks

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist
After an April during which they were baseball's most potent team, the reeling Rangers placed right-hander Alexi Ogando on the 15-day disabled list with a groin strain Tuesday ... and the pitching depth they once had is quickly draining.

The Rangers, who have lost eight of their past 12, now are down pitchers Ogando, Neftali Feliz (sprained elbow) and Derek Holland (left shoulder fatigue).

Worse, an MRI exam showed Ogando's groin strain to be more significant than the Rangers thought. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday that the big right-hander is expected to miss four to six weeks. Attempting to speed up the process, Daniels said Ogando will receive a blood platelet injection.

"It's a fact of life," Daniels said of the mounting injuries. "We were real fortunate first two months we didn't have a player move. You saw other teams dealing with more significant and frequent injuries than we've had. We've been fortunate, I think, as a result of the conditioning effort on the part of our guys, our program, the youth of our staff.

"We've got to weather the storm. It's part of the reason we added Roy Oswalt. You can never have enough pitching, and that's never been more true than with these three injuries.

"If there's a silver lining, it's that these guys get a forced rest, a forced period of inactivity, right now, and maybe that will make them stronger in the second half."

Not exactly the path Daniels or his Rangers would have chosen, but the game forces your hand at various points during the long season.

Mid-May, the Rangers were the only club in the majors that had not used the disabled list. They were still playing with the same 25 players who were on their opening day roster.

But Feliz went down after a start at Houston on May 18, and Holland was disabled following a May 30 drubbing by the Mariners.

Ogando, who was 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA, hurt himself running the bases in San Francisco on Sunday while making his first start of the season. He was dominant as a reliever, striking out 35 and walking only seven hitters in 34 2/3 innings pitched.

Suddenly, the recent signing of Oswalt becomes more and more important. The veteran righty was scheduled to start Tuesday night's game for Double-A Frisco, his third start since signing with the Rangers. The Rangers will evaluate him, though even with Ogando's injury, they're in no rush to make a forced decision to put him in the majors.

Manager Ron Washington said earlier this month that it might be late June until Oswalt joins the Rangers, because they want to make sure that he's stretched out and physically prepared to throw 100 or more pitches in a game. Daniels reiterated during a conference call Tuesday that Oswalt's health will come first.

"We want to make sure he's 100 percent ready to come up, not only with his arm, but with his conditioning," Daniels said. "Covering first base, PFP [pitcher's fielding practice] ... as we saw with Ogando, you never know. We want to make sure he's 100 percent ready to go when we bring him up."

Feliz has been examined by two doctors, including Dr. Lewis Yocum when the Rangers were in Anaheim recently, and the reports are good. The consensus seems to be that Feliz aggravated an older condition, Daniels said, and that it's not a new ligament sprain. The Rangers are hopeful that they can get him back on a throwing program shortly.

Holland, Daniels said, is "working on building strength from the weight he lost" and will see a doctor shortly to determine when he can begin a throwing program.

For now, the Rangers have recalled lefty Michael Kirkman from Triple-A Round Rock, figure on re-arranging a few pieces on their staff (Saturday's starter against Houston remains to be announced), will continue to give Oswalt time and, otherwise, pretty much simply will hunker down and wait.

Daniels said that, as of now, he's not necessarily inclined to look outside of the organization to add more help.

"I don't think so," he said. "We're always going to consider all of our options. We're probably still a month away from the trade market really heating up, or at least a few weeks. But that's not where our mindset is.

"We've got fairly good news with Derek and Neftali. Roy will get further stretched out [Tuesday night]. Alexi will be back. Fortunately, it's not a long-term injury.

"Our mindset is more to weather the storm and get our guys back."
 
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