Joely Rodríguez nearing return to Rangers

Santana, Calhoun hoping for turnaround; Allard to make first start vs. Giants

July 30th, 2020

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are hoping to have left-handed reliever back in their bullpen during the upcoming road trip.

The Rangers are set to play a three-game series with the Giants beginning on Friday in San Francisco and three more with the A's beginning on Tuesday in Oakland. Manager Chris Woodward said that Rodríguez has two more live batting-practice sessions, and that he should be ready to go in Oakland.

Rodríguez, who was sidelined with a strained left lat muscle, threw live batting practice on Tuesday.

“He is progressing nicely,” Woodward said. “Everything feels great. The life on his pitches are good. Health-wise, he is fine.”

The Rangers signed Rodríguez to a two-year contract this offseason. He and Rafael Montero were supposed to be their top two setup relievers behind closer José Leclerc. Montero is also on the injured list with a strained right forearm. He has been throwing bullpen sessions, but he has yet to face live hitters.

“Montero is a little bit behind [Rodríguez], maybe the next homestand he should be available,” Woodward said. “He feels good. In his bullpen [session], the ball was coming out like we expected. Good for both those guys, because we need them.”

Santana sits for Bumgarner
Struggling center fielder Danny Santana was out of the lineup with left-hander Madison Bumgarner on the mound on Wednesday for the D-backs. Woodward said it was a combination of wanting Scott Heineman, a right-handed hitter, in the lineup and giving Santana a day off.

Wednesday was the first start for Heineman, who may have had the best Summer Camp of any Rangers hitter. He was 19-for-39 (.487) with six doubles, two triples and two home runs. He went 0-for-3 in Wednesday's 7-4 win.

Entering Wednesday, Santana was 1-for-17 with eight strikeouts in the Rangers' first four games, including 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in the past two.

“He's really close,” hitting coach Luis Ortiz said. “I think he's a little in-between as far as his timing, and he's working on his posture. He's a big feel guy. So that's probably what has been the issue right now, where he feels a little in-between and he's just one foul ball, one take away to get back on track.”

Concern for Calhoun
Outfielder Willie Calhoun, 0-for-10 in his first three games, was also out of the starting lineup on Wednesday with a tough left-hander on the mound, though he pinch-hit and struck out in the eighth inning. Woodward admitted there are some concerns about how Calhoun is responding to getting hit by a pitch in Spring Training.

Calhoun suffered a fractured jaw when he was hit by Dodgers left-hander Julio Urías on March 8. Calhoun recovered in time for Summer Camp, but he was 2-for-37 in intrasquad games.

“I trust Willie,” Woodward said. “He has no fear, but I want to make sure he's OK. It's traumatic to get hit in the face, so I'm obviously keeping that in mind. I want to get him going. I want to make sure he's a big part of our offense, but also don't want to put him in a vulnerable position where it creates an issue."

Rangers beat
• Nick Solak was in the lineup on Wednesday at designated hitter, and he came through with an RBI single in the Rangers' five-run eighth. Texas looked at Solak in center field early in Spring Training, but right now, the club sees Heineman as its best option when Santana is not playing.

• Left-hander Kolby Allard’s first start will be on Sunday against the Giants. He will follow Mike Minor and Jordan Lyles in that series. Allard, who has yet to appear in a game, is replacing Corey Kluber in the rotation.

He said it
“I think they are going to try and make it as easy as possible. Opening up the ballroom for us to hang out, play cards, a ping pong table. Video games. But also try to be socially distanced. Wear masks.” -- Minor, on being in the same San Francisco hotel for seven days during the Rangers' upcoming road trip