Kela works one inning in return to game action

Right-handed reliever was out 10 days with shoulder concerns

March 15th, 2018

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Reliever appeared in a Cactus League game for the first time since March 5 Thursday. He faced four batters, giving up a wind-blown home run to and striking out one in his inning of work in the Rangers' 6-5 win over the Brewers.

So how did he look?

"Fastball came out well," manager Jeff Banister said. "The breaking ball was flat."


"He was today," Banister said. "We have to see how he shows back up tomorrow."

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Health, durability and endurance are paramount for Kela, who was on the disabled list twice last season because of shoulder soreness. Otherwise, he pitched in 39 games, finished with a 2.79 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP and 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings. Opponents hit .135 off him.

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Concerns about the shoulder were why the Rangers backed off Kela for 10 days and had him do his throwing on the side.

"I just think it was typical soreness from Keone," Banister said. "Wasn't anything that was similar to last year. Just more soreness than anything else."

So with Kela, it is all about …

"Be healthy and consistent on the mound … log in innings and pitches," Banister said. "He still has to go out and perform. Again, you've got to be able to be consistent as far as availability.

"If you want to look at performance numbers … I don't look at how the performance is laid out for a guy like Keone. We are in the evaluation as far as consistency of being available to pitch for us."

The Rangers believe Kela has a chance to be a dominant reliever. They have seen that in the past. His ability to handle the workload and the endurance is what they are monitoring.

It is why they are hesitant about committing him to any role, especially being the closer.

"Yeah, we talked about that," Banister said. "That's not an untrue statement. The only thing I am concerning myself with Keone is to be available to us and being out on the mound and give us consistent innings for us."

The Rangers need that from all their relievers. Banister made it clear the Rangers can't afford one or two relievers who need extra care.

"They are all meshed together," Banister said. "You can't have one out there you have to maneuver around. Got to be able to throw, he's got to throw his bullpen sessions and his game sessions. Outside of that … the stuff is there. We saw the stuff today."

Banister was asked if there was enough time in Spring Training to get Kela ready for the regular season.

"If we can get him out there, yeah," Banister said.