MINNEAPOLIS -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said reliever Koji Uehara's split-fingered fastball is looking sharp again now that he is out of the dry, high altitude Arizona climate of Spring Training. Uehara has retired six of seven batters he has faced over his first two outings of the season.Washington said the Arizona climate can affect a lot of pitchers' breaking stuff if they are not used to it. "It affects the depth ... it's not biting," Washington said. "It didn't affect just him, it affected a lot of people. It took Koji time to figure it out. This was his first time in Arizona. Those who have pitched in Arizona a long time know that going in." Uehara had a 10.61 ERA in the Cactus League but also allowed just one run in his last six innings, including two exhibition games in Texas, going into the season. "He feels good," Washington said. "We're not going to hesitate to give Koji the ball."
Nathan back in Minnesota, feeling strong
MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Nathan showed up early at Target Field on Friday, his first full day back in a city where he spent eight years as the Twins closer. Now he is with the Rangers trying to work through some early-season troubles that have left him 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA and two saves in his first four games.Nathan, meeting with a large group of Minnesota reporters before Friday's game, said he still feels strong and healthy. Nathan is two years removed from Tommy John surgery and said his arm feels strong. His velocity on his fastball is back to 93-94 mph. He said now he needs to sharpen his other pitches, particularly his slider. "I'm just trying to get back to where I was before the surgery," Nathan said. "I feel so good, when I get into trouble I feel too strong. I need to hone everything and sharpen everything. The last time I just couldn't get my slider where I wanted it. I got to get back to finishing off my slider like I should." Nathan had Thursday off after pitching back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday. Mike Adams earned the save in Thursday's 5-3 victory but manager Ron Washington said Nathan is back as closer on Friday night. Washington said he still won't hesitate to use Nathan in back-to-back games even though both of his losses have come in the second game of back-to-back outings. "The only way I don't throw him back-to-back is if he labors and throws a ton of pitches," Washington said. "I'm not going to baby anybody, at least not at this point of the season." Nathan, who began his career with the Giants, was with the Twins from 2004-11. A four-time All-Star, he is the Twins' all-time leader in saves as well as ERA, strikeouts per nine innings and lowest opponents' batting average among pitchers with at least 400 innings. He signed a two-year contract with the Rangers in the offseason. "It's never easy to leave a place like Minnesota," Nathan said. "There were a lot of people here who were good to me and my family. But when Texas called, it made it easier knowing that it was Texas. "I'm at the point of my career where there is only one thing on my mind and that's getting to the postseason and where these guys have been the past two years. I've done a lot and seen a lot but the one thing that I want to do most has alluded me. All you can do is hope you get a chance to help get back there. We still have to bust our tails, it's not going to be easy."
Young sets Rangers record for total bases
MINNEAPOLIS -- Rangers infielder Michael Young has set another club offensive record and is close to toppling another.
With singles in the fourth and sixth innings in Friday night's 4-1 win over the Twins, Young has 3,074 career total bases, surpassing Juan Gonzalez's 3,073.
Between Young and Gonzalez, they hold 11 major club batting records. Young leads in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, total bases and strikeouts. Gonzalez leads in home runs, RBIs, and extra-base hits."I played with so many great players but Juan is probably the most pure hitter we've had," Young said. "I've never seen a guy who could hit the ball so consistently hard. He used to put on a display hitting off a tee, much less batting practice or a game. I enjoyed playing with Juan, it's nice to be up there with him." Young also has 64 career sacrifice flies. That leaves him two short of the career club record of 66 held by Ruben Sierra.
Cruz, Beltre expected to DH over weekend
MINNEAPOLIS -- Nelson Cruz was in right field for the eighth straight game on Friday night and Adrian Beltre was at third base. They are the only two players who have started all eight games at their Opening Day position.That will likely change this weekend. Manager Ron Washington said he would like to use both of them at designated hitter this weekend. One would start at DH on Saturday and one would start on Sunday. Washington wants to start giving players days off early to keep them strong the entire season. "I just feel I have 25 guys I can put out there and not miss a beat," Washington said. "If I can give guys off a day here or there, I'm going to do it." Josh Hamilton is the only other player who has started eight games in the field. He was back in center on Friday after starting in left on Thursday afternoon. Shortstop Elvis Andrus was also back in the lineup on Friday night after getting Thursday off. "He started getting antsy around the seventh inning," Washington said. "I told him, 'Forget it, you're not going in.'"
When Craig Gentry was caught stealing in the fifth inning Thursday, it ended his streak of 19 straight stolen bases to start his career. That was the longest such streak since Jacoby Ellsbury opened his career with the Red Sox by stealing 25 straight in 2007-08. The Red Sox are scheduled to pitch Jon Lester and Josh Beckett during their two-game series against the Rangers on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Rangers are expected to face Cy Young winner Justin Verlander next Saturday in the third game of a four-game series with the Tigers at Comerica Park. As of Friday, the Rangers had five starters with a victory. They are the only Major League rotation to have done that. The Rangers, going into Friday night, are 21-14 on Friday the 13th, including winning five of their last seven. Rangers pitchers went into Friday's game having not allowed a walk in 26 innings.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.