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Rangers could seek 'pen help through trade

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

NEW YORK -- The Rangers' bullpen has become their biggest need as clubs gear up toward the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

The Rangers called up Preston Claiborne on Thursday, and he'll be the 16th reliever used by them this season. Tony Barnette (right ring finger) and Jeremy Jeffress (back) are currently on the disabled list.

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NEW YORK -- The Rangers' bullpen has become their biggest need as clubs gear up toward the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

The Rangers called up Preston Claiborne on Thursday, and he'll be the 16th reliever used by them this season. Tony Barnette (right ring finger) and Jeremy Jeffress (back) are currently on the disabled list.

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"It's fair to say [the bullpen] is a fluid work in progress," manager Jeff Banister said. "I don't know if it's tough, but you'd like to have that consistency."

The Rangers went into Friday's game with the Yankees with a record of 34-34, and that reflects their approach to the Deadline. The Rangers are sitting on the fence right now as to whether they are buyers or sellers and will likely do so right up until the Deadline.

There will be relief pitching available, and at the top of the list is White Sox closer David Robertson, who may be the biggest name moved at the Deadline.

The Rangers aren't looking for a closer. They are committed to Matt Bush even though he had an 8.53 ERA and two blown saves in his last seven outings entering Friday.

"We've got to continue to develop Matt in that spot," Banister said. "One of the challenges is finding him consistent work in different situations."

The other challenge is keeping his pitch count down. Bush has averaged 20.8 pitches per inning in his last seven outings. He averaged 16.7 pitches per inning and a 0.96 ERA in his first 19 outings.

"His pitch count has gotten higher than you'd like your closer to have," Banister said. "That's part of the [learning] process -- attacking hitters, getting rid of them as soon as you can and moving on. We've got to invest the time. Let's not forget he had a total of 88 innings of pitching in professional baseball before he got to the big leagues."

The Rangers are investigating any possible way of reinforcing their bullpen, but they also brought right-handers Tanner Scheppers and Ernesto Frieri to the big leagues in the last week. Both are veteran relievers who have had significant success in the past before going through their individual struggles.

Both have recorded a pair of scoreless outings, and a big priority in the next few weeks is to determine exactly what Frieri and Scheppers still have. That could also shape the Rangers' approach to the Trade Deadline.

"We need these guys to pitch and show if they are who they are," Banister said. "Scheppers has thrown the ball well. Frieri ... I have been pleasantly surprised. He is a guy who has a lot of moxie on the mound."

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, Preston Claiborne, Ernesto Frieri, Tanner Scheppers