ROUND ROCK, Texas -- Rangers right-hander Alexi Ogando picked up right where he left off.
Ogando, pitching in a game for the first time since suffering a strained right groin June 10, threw a scoreless first inning while starting for Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday night. He retired the side, striking out leadoff man Adron Chambers before getting Cedric Hunter to ground out on a ball back to the mound and fanning Steven Hill to end the inning. Ogando threw 15 pitches, 10 for strikes, while topping out at 97 mph.
"I feel 100 percent," Ogando said. "I'm working on it and I'm still a little tender in some places, but I did a good job."
Ogando will throw two innings Saturday and will likely rejoin the Rangers while they are in Oakland next week. He had three bullpen sessions before beginning his rehab assignment. The first two came last Tuesday and Thursday in Chicago, while the Rangers had a three-game series against the White Sox, and the final one was Monday at the team's facility in the Dominican Republic.
Fellow injured Rangers pitchers Neftali Feliz and Koji Uehara threw live batting practice Thursday to Alberto Gonzalez, Leonys Martin, Brandon Snyder, and Mitch Moreland, who has been on the disabled list since June 22 with a strained left hamstring. Feliz, who was placed on the DL on May 21 with right elbow inflammation, will start for Round Rock on Sunday and throw two innings before pitching three innings Wednesday when the Express are in Nashville. He also had a bullpen session in the Dominican Republic on Monday and threw 54 pitches Thursday.
With five Rangers pitchers on the DL, Ogando is eager to return.
"That's one of the motivations. There's a lot of people hurt and I'm working really hard to come back," Ogando said. "I do get frustrated at times but what can we do? It's part of the game."
Feliz, who has gone 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA this season in his first season as a full-time starter, will prepare to return as a starter during his rehab assignment. The Rangers have determined what their rotation will look like to begin the second half as Derek Holland will start Friday against the Mariners, followed by All-Stars Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison. Roy Oswalt and Colby Lewis, who will be activated next week after spending more than two weeks on the DL with tightness in his right forearm, round out the rotation.
"[Feliz will] start with two innings and will get extended from there," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We don't have a set timetable of when is best for him to make sure he's healthy and what's best for the club. We're going to get him extended as a starter. He can come back either way. But you can never have enough starting pitching, so we want him to be prepared that way."
Uehara has been on the DL since June 15 with a strained lat muscle and threw 28 pitches Thursday. He will pitch one inning out of the bullpen Saturday. Uehara has posted a 2.11 ERA in 20 appearances, striking out 22 and walking just two batters in 21 1/3 innings, holding opposing hitters to a .171 batting average.
While making his first start of the year against the Giants last month, Ogando threw three scoreless innings, but injured his groin while attempting to beat out a bunt single in his first at-bat. He has not allowed a run in his last five outings, spanning seven innings. Ogando, who was an All-Star as a starter in 2011, had a consecutive scoreless innings streak last 15 1/3 innings this season. The right-hander has gone 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 28 games, striking out 35 and walking seven in 34 2/3 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .175 batting average.
"I'm in a good place right now," Ogando said. "My arm has always been there ... My goal is to get back to where I was and help the team keep winning games. I'm following them. They're doing their job and I'm doing my job so I can get back with them."
Ogando continued to have success Thursday, beginning his outing with three straight fastballs, all for strikes and ranging from 95 to 97 mph before striking out Chambers on an 83 mph slider. Hunter hit the second pitch he saw back to the mound and Ogando fielded the ground ball cleanly and made an accurate throw to first base. Hill, the third batter Ogando faced, worked the count full before becoming the second strikeout victim of the inning.