ANAHEIM -- Triple-A Round Rock pitcher Michael Kirkman continues to undergo treatment for skin cancer, but it doesn't seem to impact his pitching.
Kirkman went 4-0 with a 3.48 ERA in six starts for Round Rock during May. Opponents hit .198 off him while he struck out 9.58 batters per nine innings. The down side was he walked 19 batters in 31 innings."To me his consistency is starting to widen," said Danny Clark, the Rangers' Minor League pitching coordinator. "He'll have three good innings and then a bad inning. It's not inning to inning anymore." The Rangers have been encouraged by Kirkman's progress at Round Rock. They are still frustrated by Martin Perez and Neil Ramirez, their top two pitching prospects down there. "They're struggling, no consistency," Clark said. Perez has a 9.20 ERA in his last four starts, although he did allow just one run over 5 2/3 innings in his last outing against Memphis on Wednesday. "It was one of his best starts," Clark said. "He didn't come out of his delivery except for maybe six pitches. We focused early on commanding his fastball and 20 of his first 24 were strikes. That was our goal because his issue is he gets behind hitters early in the first few innings." Ramirez is 3-3 with a 9.79 ERA in his last six starts. He allowed eight runs in 2 1/3 innings in his last start against Memphis on Tuesday. "Same as Martin, he can't stop one bad inning," Clark said. "Instead it keeps accumulating. That's the issue, they need to slow the game down. They want to go harder instead of slowing down and making quality pitches. Instead they want to blow people away."
Kinsler testing guard after getting hit on elbow
ANAHEIM -- Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler is trying a new guard on his left elbow after getting hit there by Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma on Wednesday night.It was not a pleasant experience. "That's the worst place you can get hit," Kinsler said. "I'd rather get hit in the helmet than on your funny bone, upper elbow or whatever you want to call it. Your fingers go numb, your arm goes numb, you can't take off your batting gloves, you can't raise your arm. It's not a fun place to get hit." Kinsler was hit twice with pitches on the last homestand and there were other pitches inside on him. Blue Jays pitcher Henderson Alvarez was thrown out for coming inside on Kinsler after giving up four straight home runs. Kinsler said he didn't think Alvarez was deliberately throwing at him and doesn't think pitchers in general are going after him. "I think pitchers understand they have to throw inside on me if they want to be effective," Kinsler said. "I see balls like that every year. There have been a lot the last week, but I see my fair share every year."
Feeling better, Hamilton gets in some early BP
ANAHEIM -- Josh Hamilton was out on the field Friday for early batting practice. That's a sign that his upper respiratory infection is subsiding."He looked good compared to when we were home," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's got his color back. He was as white as a ghost." Hamilton has been bothered by the infection for almost two weeks, although he missed only one game on the homestand. "I'm feeling better ... everything is close to being normal again," Hamilton said. "I just have some congestion. Other than that, I feel good." Hamilton was still 6-for-21 with three home runs and eight RBIs during the five games he did play on the homestand. "You've got to battle," Hamilton said. "What's that old saying ... you don't know until you go out and try. Good things can happen when you don't feel like playing and bad things can happen when you feel great." Hamilton hit .344 in May, fifth best in the league. But he led the league with 12 home runs, 32 RBIs and a .781 slugging percentage. He is the third player in Rangers history to have at least 12 home runs and 32 RBIs in a month. Juan Gonzalez had 15 home runs and 38 RBIs in July 1996 and Rafael Palmeiro had 15 home runs and 39 RBIs in August 1999.
Rangers on track to face Zito, Lincecum in SF
ANAHEIM -- The Rangers are looking at facing Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Lincecum during their three-game series with the Giants next weekend at AT&T Park.Zito is scheduled to pitch on Friday against the Rangers, followed by Vogelsong on Saturday and Lincecum on Sunday. Zito hasn't pitched against the Rangers since 2009 and only once since leaving the Athletics as a free agent after the 2009 season. But he is 18-5 with a 3.72 ERA in 31 career starts against them. He needs one more victory to tie Bert Blyleven, Dennis Leonard and Jack Morris for most ever against the Rangers. Vogelsong hasn't faced the Rangers since 2001, when he was with the Pirates. Lincecum hasn't faced them in the regular season but beat the Rangers twice during the 2010 World Series.
Wash wouldn't have used Moreland on mound
ANAHEIM -- Manager Ron Washington said he considered the possibility of using a position player to pitch on Wednesday in the Rangers' 21-8 loss to the Mariners. Koji Uehara was able to get the Rangers through the ninth inning, otherwise Washington would have used a position player.It wasn't going to be Mitch Moreland, even though he was a reliever at Mississippi State. At one point, the Rangers thought about using Moreland as a pitcher early in his Minor League days. But Washington said he isn't going to use him at the Major League level even though Moreland wanted to pitch on Wednesday. "I wasn't going to use Mitch," Washington said. "I didn't want him having flashbacks to Mississippi State, try to do something and have his arm follow the ball up to home plate. Try to break off a breaking ball and there goes his elbow. Then my job is on the line. I don't want my job on the line." Washington said he would have used either Craig Gentry or Alberto Gonzalez.
Club president Nolan Ryan is in Anaheim for the first two games of the Rangers series with the Angels and won't be at Triple-A Round Rock to see Roy Oswalt pitch on Saturday. Said Ryan, "I'll get the reports, but I'd like to see him pitch before he gets to Arlington." Brandon Snyder made his Major League debut as a catcher in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 21-8 loss. He will be used there only in a dire emergency. Said manager Ron Washington, "Brandon has done a great job at working hard and being serviceable." Michael Young went into Friday's game with 232 career hits against the Angels. That's eighth most by an opponent. George Brett has the most with 282. Friday night was the first of 10 straight games in California. It's the first time the Rangers have played that many consecutive games in a state besides Texas.
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.