CHICAGO -- Two injured Rangers pitchers took steps toward returning on Wednesday.Left-hander Koji Uehara threw 30 pitches at about 70 percent in his first bullpen session since going on the disabled list with a right lat strain on June 15 (retroactive to June 10). Uehara experienced no problems and said he felt fine, according to Rangers media relations. Right-hander Colby Lewis, who has been on the DL with right forearm tendinitis since June 29 (retroactive to June 24) threw from 120 feet and will throw a light bullpen session prior to Thursday's series finale against the White Sox. Right-handers Alexi Ogando (strained groin) and Neftali Feliz (sprained right elbow) also are scheduled to throw bullpen sessions Thursday. They each threw off the mound for the first time Tuesday.
Rangers resting Darvish until All-Star break
CHICAGO -- Yu Darvish will not make another start before the All-Star break, Rangers manager Ron Washington announced Wednesday, as the club looks to give the rookie right-hander extra rest.Washington said Darvish is not hurt, but the Rangers decided this weekend was the best time to give him a start off with the upcoming All-Star break. Washington also said Darvish, who as of Wednesday morning led the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Firestone, will be available to pitch in the All-Star Game if voted in. "It's just looking forward," Washington said. "We just feel in our best interests and in his best interests that missing this last start is not going to hurt anything. It's just going to help us as we move forward after the break." Darvish, who is 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA in 16 starts this season, issued the following statement: "Physically I am fine, but the front office and the coaching staff have decided that since this is my first year to give me some extra rest. I will accept that and take advantage of that time. If I am selected to the All-Star team I should be able to participate in the game." The Rangers' rotation for this weekend's series in Minnesota will consist of left-hander Martin Perez on Friday, Derek Holland on Saturday and Roy Oswalt on Sunday. Holland, who threw a bullpen session Wednesday afternoon, will be returning from the disabled list after suffering from left shoulder and elbow fatigue. He has been on the DL since June 7, retroactive to June 6. "Holland is ready to pitch so we decided to do it, so we have a replacement [for Darvish]," Washington said. The decision to skip Darvish is similar to what the Rangers did last July with 26-year-old Matt Harrison, who they skipped once after the All-Star break. Harrison and Darvish are the only Rangers starters not to get injured this season, and Washington said Harrison likely will get skipped again at some point this season, as well. "It was just trying to maximize Yu Darvish's ability," Washington said. "A lot of it came with the drudgery of the schedule, he not experiencing this type of grind and we just feel like we have to do what's best for him and what's best for us. We think him missing this one start, getting that time through the All-Star break and coming back will benefit he and the Texas Rangers."
Heilman seeing improvement
ROUND ROCK -- Aaron Heilman has spent most of his professional career in the Major Leagues. After a subpar 2011 season, he's trying to get back.Heilman, who played in the big leagues each of the past eight years, has been in Triple-A Round Rock for all of the 2012 campaign. He's 1-0 with a 3.49 ERA in 27 games, the most Minor League appearances he's made in a season. He was 4-1 with a 6.88 ERA with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011. "I wouldn't still be pitching if I didn't think I could pitch in the big leagues," Heilman said. "I went through a rough year last year and started to figure things out toward the end. If you're not getting better and you're not having fun, it's time to go home and do something else." After being released by the D-backs last July, he played with Triple-A teams in the Phillies and Pirates organizations, going 2-0 with a 4.42 ERA. With Round Rock, Heilman has not allowed a run in his last 10 innings and has picked up six saves while posting a 1.40 ERA over his previous 15 games. "I'm throwing the ball well and getting back on track, throwing the ball the way I know I can," Heilman said. "I'm getting ahead of hitters, being aggressive, putting them in defensive counts. It's always good to feel like you're making progress and headed in the right direction." A free agent this offseason, Heilman was signed by the Mariners in January and released April 1. Three days later, the Rangers picked up the 33-year-old. "Baseball moves quickly," Heilman said. "There's always a business side of things. Sometimes things work out unexpectedly. I got released from Seattle and fortunately I got an opportunity with the Rangers."
PCL All-Star Butler's patience is paying off
ROUND ROCK -- This isn't the first time Joey Butler has been named an All-Star.Butler, who earned 2011 postseason Pacific Coast League All-Star honors, became the lone player from Triple-A Round Rock to be selected to play in this year's PCL All-Star Game in Buffalo, N.Y., on July 11. But, according to Butler, he's not the one on his team most deserving of the accolades. "I was surprised. I've had a decent year, but I didn't think I was a shoo-in for the All-Star team," Butler said. "I don't even think I'm our team's most dangerous hitter when we have guys like Mike Bianucci, who has some power. We have Yangervis Solarte, who rarely strikes out. We have Brad Nelson, whose power numbers are right where they always are." Butler hit .322 with 12 home runs and 57 RBIs in 113 games with Round Rock last year, but he struck out a team-high 138 times, the league's third-highest total. Butler leads the PCL with 53 walks this season, 10 more than he had all of last year. His batting average has dipped to .281, but his .398 on-base percentage is 10 points higher than it was a year ago. "Last year, I struck out a bunch, chased a bunch out of the zone," Butler said. "Now, I'm waiting for a pitch to get in the zone. If it doesn't come, I don't swing. Guys are trying to get me to chase stuff because of what I did last year. Even on 2-1, 3-1 pitches, they're still trying to get me to chase."
Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. Christian Corona is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.