Pence clears final hurdle before return

June 29th, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- was logging time on the diamond long before the Rangers officially took the field against the Rays on Friday night at Tropicana Field.

Texas’ All-Star designated hitter cleared one of the final hurdles before beginning a Minor League rehab assignment by running the bases to test out his strained right groin.

“The running went very well,” said Pence, who’s been out since June 17. “I was strong, which was the main thing. It responded well and is feeling good.

“It’s exciting to be able to run the bases. I’m getting better and I don’t feel too far away, so I’m excited.”

Pence said he didn’t run full speed during the exercises, but he admitted he pushed himself “probably a little harder than I should have,” with positive results. The next step for the designated hitter -- who was selected as an American League All-Star starter on Thursday for the first time in his career -- is a Minor League rehab assignment, beginning Monday. He could return as early as Tuesday's game against the Angels in Arlington.

Biddle joins the party

The Rangers claimed off waivers on Friday, five days after the Mariners designated him for assignment.

Texas will be Biddle’s third team of the season; he opened the year with the Braves. The left-hander was 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 15 games with Atlanta and 0-0 with a 9.82 ERA in 11 games with Seattle.

Biddle is expected to join the Rangers at home on Monday prior to the series opener against the Angels.

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

Rangers notes

• Drew Smyly was unconditionally released Friday after clearing waivers. The left-hander was 1-5 with an 8.42 ERA in 13 games (nine starts) with Texas this season.

• Right-hander Kyle Dowdy (right elbow impingement) began a rehab assignment Thursday night with the Arizona League Rangers. Dowdy needed just three pitches for a shutout first inning, inducing a double play after he allowed a leadoff base hit.

• Isiah Kiner-Falefa (right middle finger ligament sprain) practiced throwing down to second base pregame for the first time since he injured the finger diving back to first base on a pickoff attempt. The Rangers’ catcher, who reported no issues, has been out of action since June 7. He will likely head out for a rehab assignment on Monday.

While the finger is still fairly swollen, the 24-year-old was told to expect as much. Prior to the pregame test, he admitted being concerned how he would grip the ball because of the swelling, but said it turned out not to be an issue.

“For me, it was more of a mental [thing],” Kiner-Falefa said. “Every time I looked at it, you can tell [the injury] is still there, but it feels good.”

• The Rangers also transferred Jeffrey Springs (left biceps tendinitis) from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day IL.

"They've shut him down for a little while. We all kind of thought it wasn't going to be that bad, but ... it didn't seem to get better with treatment,” Woodward said. “So that's when the doctors said, 'OK, there's something going on in there.'"