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Perez's return will shed light on Colon's status

Rangers may put veteran righty in 'pen to keep him in organization
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

OAKLAND -- Rangers pitcher Martin Perez turned 27 on Wednesday. Another big event takes place on Thursday, when he will be activated off the disabled list and start against the Athletics.

Just as big is the roster decision and how it will impact veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon. The Rangers don't want to risk losing Colon by putting him on outright waivers, so they are leaning strongly toward keeping him on the active roster. He would have to work out of the bullpen unless the Rangers can find a way to shoehorn him into the rotation.

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OAKLAND -- Rangers pitcher Martin Perez turned 27 on Wednesday. Another big event takes place on Thursday, when he will be activated off the disabled list and start against the Athletics.

Just as big is the roster decision and how it will impact veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon. The Rangers don't want to risk losing Colon by putting him on outright waivers, so they are leaning strongly toward keeping him on the active roster. He would have to work out of the bullpen unless the Rangers can find a way to shoehorn him into the rotation.

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The Rangers' immediate goal is to protect their depth, and Colon opened some eyes by holding the Athletics to one run in six innings on Monday. That's why the Rangers are veering away from their "one start and done" strategy with Colon.

"You've got to have depth," manager Jeff Banister said. "We all know depth is important as any one starter out there. You know who they are and what they can do. You've got to have Major League players ready."

Perez began the season on the DL while finishing his recovery from a broken radial bone in his right (non-throwing) elbow. Now the Rangers want to see him pick up from last season, when he went 8-2 with a 3.71 ERA over his last 11 starts.

"I want to stay right there," Perez said. "The last two months [of 2017] were good. I need to stay right there. I don't have to be perfect, but stay in the same lane, control my mind, control my emotions, pound the strike zone."

Perez injured the elbow on Dec. 11, falling off a fence at his ranch in Venezuela. He underwent surgery on Dec. 18 and was back on the mound at the beginning of Spring Training. Perez made two starts in Arizona, allowing five runs in 10 innings, and then he threw 87 pitches in a simulated game on Friday.

Kela notches big save
Keone Kela's save in the Rangers' 4-1 win over the Athletics on Tuesday night was the first by one of their relievers at the Coliseum since Sept. 23, 2016. That was the night Sam Dyson closed out a win that clinched the American League West title for the Rangers.

Kela's save was also his first since being named the Rangers' closer, and Banister did not minimize the importance of the first one going smoothly.

"Every one is a confidence builder," Banister said. "You know what it looks like and what you can expect. I'm not going to make too much, but I'm not going to make too little of it. I thought he did a good job last night."

Video: TEX@OAK: Kela K's Pinder, secures the save

Lincecum throws bullpen
Tim Lincecum, on the DL because of a blister on his right middle finger, threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday without any issues. It was his third bullpen session in the past five days.

"He was good," pitching coach Doug Brocail said. "He was really good the other day. It's coming."

Lincecum will take Thursday off, and the Rangers will decide when they return to Arlington what the next step will be. It will either be another bullpen session or live batting practice.

Rangers beat
• The Rangers struck out just twice Tuesday after striking out 36 times in their previous three games.

"That was one of the things we talked about in Spring Training, decreasing the strikeouts," Banister said. "Guys are doing a great job paying attention to it."

• Wednesday's game was the 2,821st of Adrian Beltre's career. That moves him into 21st all-time, just ahead of Reggie Jackson.

• One other piece of trivia from Cole Hamels start on Tuesday. He was the first Rangers pitcher to record the first eight outs of a start on strikeouts. It's also the first time Hamels has done it in his career.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Martin Perez