ARLINGTON -- Right-hander Kohei Arihara pitched in a simulated game on Wednesday, prior to the Rangers' home game against the Mariners.
Arihara has been on the injured list since early May with a right middle finger contusion. He underwent surgery on May 27 and has been sidelined since. The simulated game was a significant step for Arihara, who threw 35 pitches over two innings.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward was watching from behind home plate and said Arihara may have looked even better than he did earlier this season, when he was at full strength. Arihara's velocity was a little bit down, around 89-90 mph instead of the usual 92-93, but the pitching coaches are hopeful it’ll return to normal with some more reps.
“Honestly, his stuff is moving all over the place,” Woodward said. “We had two good lefties hitting against him in Nate Lowe and Brock Holt. He threw a couple of sliders in on their hands that got it on the label. The fastball’s moving good. The four-seam was pretty good up in the zone and the runner was moving. The split was really good.
"Everything had life to it, and it was all around the plate. He was able to execute it and was able to get those splits and sliders down in the zone. So, overall, it was a good day.”
Arihara made seven starts and posted a 6.59 ERA this season before landing on the injured list. His numbers are likely inflated because of the injury that he attempted to pitch through during his last few outings. Woodward is hopeful that Arihara will be back with the big league squad by Sept. 1 after an upcoming rehab assignment. The Rangers are hoping he can get multiple innings in a few appearances at either Double-A Frisco or Triple-A Round Rock so he’s ready for multi-inning relief appearances by the time he’s back with the Rangers.