SEATTLE -- Even after Kyle Bird broke camp with the Rangers and made his Major League debut, the rookie was admittedly still trying to impress everyone around him, and that mentality at times kept him from executing pitches.
Following a demotion to Triple-A Nashville on April 19, Bird believes he’s fixed those flaws. On Monday, the left-hander was recalled ahead of the Rangers’ three-game series against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park. He took the bullpen spot of right-hander Jeanmar Gómez, who was designated for assignment.
“I was trying to win a job in Spring Training, but I was also trying to get myself ready instead of trying to go out there and strike everybody out, which is what I think I tried to do at the start of the season,” Bird said.
Texas has turned to an eight-man bullpen this year, but given how well its starters have pitched lately, and how bench players such as Hunter Pence and Logan Forsythe have jockeyed for everyday roles, manager Chris Woodward outlined that a seven-man relief corps wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility. However, most of their players with Minor League options are not pitchers, such as outfielders Delino DeShields and Willie Calhoun, which is why they are with Nashville, where they can get more consistent at-bats.
“The way our starting pitching has been going lately, we could easily go seven. We're getting quality starts every game. That helps. But before that, it wasn't always the case, so we needed that depth on a daily basis, more for like long-term than in the present," Woodward said. "I'm trying to get our guys in there as much as I can. We're fine with the three guys on the bench. They've honestly provided us more value than anybody else.”
Against a lefty-heavy Mariners lineup, the Rangers wanted an additional arm should they need to play late-game matchups.
Gomez made 16 appearances with the Rangers, but he hadn’t pitched since May 19. His 8.22 ERA would have ranked among the worst in the Majors among relievers, had he accumulated enough innings to qualify. Gomez gave up 14 earned runs over 15 1/3 innings after breaking camp with the big league club on a Minor League deal he signed in January.
When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster. Within seven days of the transaction (it had been 10 days under the 2012-16 Collective Bargaining Agreement), the player can either be traded or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.
The Rangers’ 40-man roster currently has 39 players, with four of them on the 60-day injured list -- right-handers Luke Farrell and Edinson Volquez, lefty Yohander Méndez and outfielder Scott Heineman.
• The Rangers haven’t determined whether they will use an opener for right-hander Adrian Sampson on Tuesday, as they have in each of his past two starts. That decision will likely be dictated on how their bullpen usage develops on Monday. Texas is also considering using an opener for left-hander Drew Smyly on Wednesday. The club has used an opener thrice in 2019 between Jesse Chavez and Jose Leclerc.
• The Rangers reached Memorial Day at .500 (25-25), and six games better than where they were through 50 games last season. Their 2018 start is tied for their second-best through 50 games over the past six seasons, behind their 29-21 showing in ’16 and 25-25 start in ’15, both years in which they won the American League West.