"[Hamels] is much better, much improved, but [we] thought, 'Let's give him a little more time and let that neck calm down,'" Banister said.
Banister said Hamels should be able to start in next week's series against the Yankees. Before Friday's game, Banister said he would not rule Hamels out to start Saturday's game. After Friday's game, the Rangers announced they will call up 21-year-old right-hander Ariel Jurado from Double-A Frisco to start against Lucas Giolito. Jurado is 1-1 in seven starts with a 2.57 ERA at Frisco.
Hamels woke up with neck stiffness on Wednesday and had it grab on him while playing catch in Seattle. He said on Thursday he had never experienced neck stiffness in-season before in his career, but wanted to sure he didn't risk the soreness worsening by making his start on Thursday.
"Like anything else, you want to be at your best," Hamels said Thursday. "At times, we do pitch through some bumps and bruises … but when you notice you cannot look at the target when you throw a baseball, it's not good."
No timetable for Lincecum Right-hander Tim Lincecum took the loss in his latest Minor League rehab start with Triple-A Round Rock on Wednesday. Lincecum gave up a run on two hits while throwing a season-high two innings of relief. Lincecum threw 28 pitches, including 16 strikes in his latest outing as he attempts to work back to the Major Leagues for the first time since 2016.
Banister said earlier this year that Lincecum will remain on the disabled list until he can throw three innings. In five Minor League appearances, Lincecum is 0-1 with a 7.11 ERA.
"He was much better [Thursday], much improved," Banister said. "Changeup was really good, fastball location was good, [his] command was much better."
One day at a time After the Rangers blew a two-run lead in Thursday's 4-2 loss to the White Sox, Banister said his team can't afford to dwell too long on disappointing finishes. Reliever Jose Leclerc gave up four unearned runs in the eighth inning after recording two quick outs. But after Leclerc made a throwing error and walked three straight hitters, everything unraveled.
"Initially the loss is painful, but just as a win is exciting … you celebrate [wins] appropriately and you have to feel appropriately [after losses]," Banister said Friday. "But at the end of the day, you move by."
Pennington signed to Minor League deal The Rangers announced Friday that they have signed free-agent infielder Cliff Pennington to a Minor League deal and have assigned him to Triple-A.
The 33-year-old began the season with the Reds and went 4-for-29 in 16 games before being assigned to Triple-A Louisville on April 28. He hit .267 in 11 games with the Bats before being granted his free agency on Thursday.
The switch-hitter has a career Major League average of .242 with 36 homers and 242 RBI in 971 games with the A's (2008-12), Diamondbacks (2013-15), Blue Jays (2015), Angels (2016-17), and Reds (2018). Pennington posted career highs with eight homers and 58 RBIs for the A's in 2011.
Jeff Arnold is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago.