ARLINGTON -- The strange saga of Rangers left-hander Joe Palumbo took another turn on Friday when he was placed on the injured list with ulcerative colitis.
The Rangers are familiar with the condition. Kyle Gibson dealt with it last season with the Twins before signing with the Rangers, and Jake Diekman underwent surgery on Jan. 25, 2017, to correct his chronic ulcerative colitis.
Manager Chris Woodward said Palumbo is going through a “major flareup” right now.
“He is not in a good spot,” Woodward said Saturday. “He does not feel great. We are trying to figure out what it is. We are just trying to get it regulated and calmed down so when he comes off the IL, he’ll be ready to pitch for us. Because right now, it would be really tough to go out there.”
Palumbo, the No. 9 prospect in the Rangers' system per MLB Pipeline, was supposed to be next in line to step into the rotation in case of need. His spot in line passes to left-hander Wes Benjamin, who is being stretched out at the club's alternate training site.
Benjamin was 7-6 with a 5.52 ERA in 25 starts and two relief appearances for Triple-A Round Rock last season. He caught the Rangers' attention in Spring Training and was added to the Summer Camp roster. In four intrasquad games, he pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and three walks while striking out nine.
“He has been really good. … Plus stuff, plus curveball, elite command and he attacks hitters,” Woodward said. “I trust him to go in there and throw strikes. We are going to need him.”
Palumbo was a rising star in the Rangers' farm system before undergoing Tommy John surgery on April 26, 2017. He reached the Majors last season but dealt with blister problems. This past spring, he had to deal with inflammation in his right heel.
“I feel bad for him, because they are not typical issues,” Woodward said. “Weird kind of circumstances. We believe these are anomalies, if we can get away from them. It has pushed his development back a little bit.”
No skipping Minor
Left-hander Mike Minor, who is 0-3 with a 6.83 ERA in three starts, is scheduled to pitch Tuesday against the Mariners. Minor has been dealing with fatigue and decreased velocity, and the Rangers discussed possibly skipping him.
Instead, Woodard said the Rangers will likely have Minor on a lower pitch count for that start.
“He wants to pitch,” Woodward said. “It’s going to be more of a shortened start than skipping him. He really wants to go out there. He wants to do that rather than taking the start off. He feels fine. It’s not that he needs to rest an injury. He wants to push through it. We are going to honor that.”
Santana getting closer
Outfielder Danny Santana, who is sidelined with a strained right forearm, is eligible to come off the injured list on Sunday. Santana is not close to the point of being able to play the outfield, but he's becoming an offensive option again. He took live batting practice at Texas' alternate training site on Saturday.
“Looked really good,” Woodward said. “I watched him throw. It’s getting better. He feels like he’s not as concerned when he starts to play catch. He’s not 100 percent throwing. I wouldn’t put him anywhere on defense, just for the risk of having to make a hard throw. He’s still kind of iffy on that.”
Woodward said the Rangers will make a decision on Sunday if Santana is ready to be activated.
“If it’s only a DH and he can’t play the field, I don’t know if we’ll activate him right away,” Woodward said. “I think he’s still two or three days away from maybe throwing to where we’d feel comfortable even putting him at first base.”
• The Rangers have released right-handed pitcher Wei-Chieh Huang from their alternate training site. Huang was acquired from the D-backs at the non-wavier Trade Deadline in 2018 for Diekman.
• Woodward confirmed his bullpen plan after Friday’s 4-3 win over the Angels. Jonathan Hernández is his eighth-inning setup reliever, and Rafael Montero, who earned his first save on Friday, is the Rangers' closer with José Leclerc on the injured list.
• Rougned Odor was in the lineup on Saturday after going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Friday. Said Woodward, “I know the results aren’t there. There are a few things, just looking at numbers, that are a little troubling. I want him to succeed… but we obviously need to see some better results on the field.”