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Rangers visit wounded soldiers at Walter Reed

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

WASHINGTON -- Matt Bush has had a couple of rough outings as the Rangers closer lately. Then he visited wounded soldiers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday morning.

"It helped tremendously," Bush said. "It was a great way to start the day. Something I will always remember … mixing in with the guys there. It was tough to see the condition they were in, but to be able to put some smiles on their face was heart-warming. I shared my story with some of them. It felt good and uplifting."

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WASHINGTON -- Matt Bush has had a couple of rough outings as the Rangers closer lately. Then he visited wounded soldiers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday morning.

"It helped tremendously," Bush said. "It was a great way to start the day. Something I will always remember … mixing in with the guys there. It was tough to see the condition they were in, but to be able to put some smiles on their face was heart-warming. I shared my story with some of them. It felt good and uplifting."

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Bush and pitchers Austin Bibens-Dirkx and A.J. Griffin were there along with manager Jeff Banister and members of his staff.

Tweet from @Rangers: Rangers players & coaches visited with wounded warriors at @WRBethesda today. It was an honor to be there & visit with them. #ThankYou ���� pic.twitter.com/ZlF0e3WHXa

"It was great to experience that and be able to put a smile on their faces," Bibens-Dirkx said. "They kept saying thank you for coming out, and we wanted to say thank you to them. My grandpa was in the military, and I have friends serving in the military.

"One of my best friends in high school is on a nuclear submarine somewhere in the world and another one of my friends went back over there for another deployment. I have heard stuff before but this was an eye-opener to see it myself."

Walter Reed Army Hospital merged with Bethesda Naval Medical Center in 2011 to form the National Military Medical Center.

"It's just the overall joy they have when they see us walk through the door," Banister said. "To give them a percentage of the appreciation they have earned and deserve is monumental. It affects ourselves and our players. We get insulated in our world when we put on the uniform and play in front of 50,000 people and get vaulted on a pedestal. When you walk through those doors, you don't have to imagine what a real hero looks like."

Gomez headed for rehab
The Rangers have assigned outfielder Carlos Gomez to Triple-A Round Rock on medical rehabilitation assignment. Gomez, who is sidelined with a strained right hamstring, will spend Saturday and Sunday being used at designated hitter.

If that goes well, he will be used in the outfield on Monday and Tuesday. The Rangers aren't expecting him to be ready for the three-game series against the Astros, but he could be back next Friday when they return home to play the Mariners.

"We'll see how he feels at DH," Banister said. "We need to get him on the [outfield] grass for more than one day."

Rangers beat
Cole Hamels, on the disabled list with a strained right oblique muscle, is expected to throw another bullpen session on Saturday. If that goes well, the next step would be live batting practice.

• The Rangers remain undecided on Sunday's starter. Nick Martinez and Bibens-Dirkx are the leading candidates, but right now they are available to be used out of the bullpen if needed.

• The Rangers have used nine different players at cleanup hitter, two more than any other team.

• Minor League right-handed pitcher Yerry Rodriguez has received a 75-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Hydrochlorothiazide, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the program. The suspension of Rodriguez, who is currently on the roster of the rookie-level Dominican Summer League Rangers, is effective immediately.

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, Matt Bush