Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Texas Rangers

Rangers might move Tommy Hunter to bullpen temporarily

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Tommy Hunter posted a quality 3.73 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 128 innings last year and was all set to open the 2011 season as Texas’ No. 3 starter.

But he strained his groin at the end of spring training and has been on the disabled list since.

Hunter has made a number of rehab appearances, but the results have not been overwhelmingly positive and the Rangers are now thinking about a creative alternative. They want to change his role.

According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the 24-year-old Hunter has begun making rehab appearances out of the bullpen at Triple-A Round Rock and could be used as a long reliever temporarily once he is medically cleared to return to the major leagues.

“It’s to see if he can do it, see how he recovers,” manager Ron Washington said. “That’s not in stone.”

The Rangers would certainly prefer to have Hunter at his best and a member of the rotation, but their starting pitching has been solid this season thanks to the emergence of Alexi Ogando and Matt Harrison, and Hunter could always make spot starts down the stretch if he begins showing signs of life in long relief.

Report: Mariners acquire Chris Heston from the Giants

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network and FOX Sports reports that the Mariners have acquired starter Chris Heston from the Giants. The Giants will receive a player to be named later, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Heston, 28, logged only five innings in the majors this past season as he battled an oblique injury and otherwise spent most of his time with Triple-A Sacramento. Heston was solid out of the Giants’ rotation in 2015, posting a 3.95 ERA with a 141/64 K/BB ratio in 177 2/3 innings over 31 starts.

Heston will be under team control through 2021. He’ll provide depth for the Mariners’ rotation in the meantime.

Joe Nathan wants to pitch in 2017

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 16: Joe Nathan #36 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the ninth inning of the game against the Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park on August 16, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Mariners 4-2.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images
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Joe Nathan‘s agent, David Pepe, says his client wants to pitch in 2017, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. “He’s like the Energizer Bunny,” Pepe said.

Nathan, 42, came back from Tommy John surgery in July, pitching two scoreless innings for the Cubs with four strikeouts and two walks. The Cubs released him and the Giants picked him up, and Nathan went on to pitch 4 1/3 scoreless innings down the stretch with five strikeouts and two walks.

According to FanGraphs, Nathan’s velocity wasn’t where it used to be, which is to be expected of a pitcher in his 40’s coming back from major elbow surgery. Still, with teams always on the hunt for bullpen depth, it would be shocking if Nathan didn’t get any bites before spring training starts.