Wandy Rodriguez is now making steady progress.
According to beat writer Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the left-hander threw fastballs and changeups in a successful 25-pitch bullpen session Saturday at Colorado’s Coors Field. “No problems,” Rodriguez told reporters after the short workout.
Rodriguez will throw another bullpen session — his third — on Wednesday in St. Louis and could then be cleared to face live hitters. “It won’t be finalized until we know how he feels tomorrow from throwing today, that’s what we kind of laid out as the plan moving forward,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
Rodriguez has been on the disabled list since June 5 because of left elbow and forearm tightness. He tried starting a minor league rehab assignment on June 24 but felt renewed discomfort in his throwing arm almost immediately and was shut down. The hope is that he can avoid setbacks this time around.
Pittsburgh entered play Sunday with a four-game lead over St. Louis in the National League Central.
Rodriguez had a 3.59 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 46/12 K/BB ratio in 62 2/3 innings before hitting the shelf.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.