MILWAUKEE -- Hunter Pence had no trouble in the outfield on Friday night against the Brewers. It was his first game playing out there since straining his groin muscle on June 16 against the Reds.
The Rangers had to use Pence in right field against the Brewers because there is no designated hitter in a National League ballpark. Texas will be done with Interleague Play for the season after Sunday, but manager Chris Woodward said he will still use Pence in the outfield on occasion down the stretch.
“Yesterday, it was nice to get him out there,” Woodward said. “So yeah, to give some other guys a little bit of a rest.”
There may be another benefit of putting Pence in the outfield for his own purposes. It would give Pence a chance to show the Rangers and other teams he can still play out there going into free agency this offseason. Clubs need outfielders more than designated hitters, and only half the teams in the Majors use a DH anyway.
“Honestly, the only thing that is important is playing to win games and getting better,” Pence said. “You can’t really control that. I’m trying to be as good as I can be now. ... I’m just going to play and enjoy myself as much as I can and see what tomorrow brings."
Woodward said that could be important for other teams, but not necessarily for the Rangers.
“I know we’ll have interest,” Woodward said. “He’s gained the right to put himself back on the map as being a really productive player. The rest of the league is probably going, ‘Where does this guy fit? Is he a DH? Can he play outfield?’ Every time he goes out there, it’s good for people to see he can still roam in the outfield and be OK.”
For the season, Pence has started 40 games at designated hitter and 21 in the outfield. His first 13 starts since coming off the injured list were as a DH.
“I felt good with him out there last night,” Woodward said. “I feel his leg is fully healthy. He can pretty much go full speed after balls. It would matter to the rest of the league, but I don’t need to see it. I know how hard he works. If you are talking about next year, I have full trust that he will be able to do it. Maybe the rest of the league needs to see it if they are going to invest some dollars into it.”
Palumbo getting closer
Left-hander Joe Palumbo is getting closer to a return to the Major Leagues. Palumbo started for Triple-A Nashville on Friday night and allowed one run in five innings in a 5-1 win over Fresno.
Palumbo, the Rangers' No. 6 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, allowed three hits, walked one and struck out seven in his second outing after missing three weeks because of a strained left foot. If not for that injury, Palumbo would have been back up with the Rangers by now. He is 0-1 with an 11.00 ERA in three appearances (two starts) this season for Texas and 2-0 with 3.25 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 16 games (15 starts) between Double-A Frisco and Nashville. He has struck out 101 in 74 2/3 Minor League innings.
“Palumbo looks good, feels good, threw the ball well last night,” Woodward said. “We’ll see him at some point, I just don’t know when. He’s getting closer.”
Palumbo threw 72 pitches against Fresno. Woodward said the Rangers want to see that get back up to 85-90 pitches before he comes back to the big leagues.
• Right-handers Ariel Jurado and Lance Lynn both pitched in Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Indians. Woodward is bringing Jurado back first to pitch against the Blue Jays on Monday, and Lynn will follow on Tuesday. Woodward doesn’t want Mike Minor, who is starting Sunday's finale in Milwaukee, and Lynn pitching back to back. Lefty Kolby Allard will start Wednesday's series finale in Toronto.
• The Rangers had 10 walks on offense on Friday night and still lost. The club is 42-11 all-time when drawing 10 or more walks in a game. The last time they lost with 10 or more walks was in 1999.
• Allard struck out seven batters in 4 1/3 innings on Friday in his Rangers debut. At 21 years and 361 days, he is the youngest Rangers pitcher to strike out seven in a game since Edwin Correa (21.039 years old) on June 7, 1987.