ARLINGTON -- Joe Saunders, who is on the disabled list with a left foot injury, is going to continue to pitch on a medical rehabilitation assignment. He has also been told that when he does return, it could be as a reliever if he is willing to accept that role.
That's the message sent by general manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington after meeting with Saunders on Thursday. The Rangers rotation is set with Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, Robbie Ross Jr., Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis.
Ross has struggled in his last four starts but the Rangers have no inclination to take him out of the rotation at this point. Saunders has been a starter his entire career, making 222 starts without one appearance as a reliever. But that may have to change if he wants to stay with the Rangers.
"The spot right now we have is in the bullpen," Daniels said. "He sees himself as a starter but that's the spot we have open."
Daniels suggested the Rangers might accommodate Saunders if he wants to find a job elsewhere as a starter.
"We're always open to that if he has an opportunity to start," Daniels said. "I think it's fair to give him time to digest it."
Saunders is expected to make his next start this weekend. He started for Double-A Frisco on Tuesday and allowed three runs in four innings while throwing 66 pitches. As with Harrison when he was on rehab assignment, the Rangers want to see better results and not just Saunders getting his pitch count up.
Germano callup forces difficult decision on Baker
ARLINGTON -- There was a point in Spring Training when pitcher Justin Germano thought he might have cancer and never pitch again in the Major Leagues.
Turns out he didn't have cancer. He simply needed an unidentified procedure to have a mass removed and now, with that scare in the past, Germano is back in the Major Leagues. Germano was called up on Thursday while pitcher Scott Baker was designated for assignment.
"I really don't know what to think," Germano said. "I'm just happy to be here and get the call…help the bullpen, eat up some innings and give them some rest."
Baker was called up on Wednesday to do just that and he pitched 5 1/3 innings in a 9-2 loss to the Rockies. He allowed two runs and manager Ron Washington said he did a "tremendous" job. But the Rangers are still concerned about the workload of their bullpen and wanted another long reliever for Thursday. So Baker, who would have been unavailable for at least three days, was designated for assignment despite pitching well on Wednesday.
"It stinks," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He did everything we asked. Unfortunately we are at a spot where the bullpen is taxed because our starters are not getting deep into games."
The Rangers have 10 days to either trade Baker or put him through outright waivers. If Baker is not claimed off waivers, he could still take his release and become a free agent.
"We'll see if there is trade interest," Daniels said. "If there is not, we'll ask waivers."
The Rangers could have kept Baker by optioning Nick Martinez back to the Minor Leagues. But right now the Rangers want him in their bullpen rather than pitching every fifth day in the Minors. He has a 2.41 ERA in two starts and two relief appearances while opponents are hitting .222 off him.
"We feel Nick can be a winning piece in the bullpen and we wanted to keep him," Daniels said.
Beltre has admirer in Arenado
ARLINGTON -- Nolan Arenado was a third baseman growing up in Southern California, a second-round pick by the Rockies out of El Toro High School in 2009. Now he is one of the hottest hitters in the big leagues, taking a 27-game hitting streak into Thursday's game.
He is also getting the opportunity to play against one of his heroes growing up as his opposite number at third base is Adrian Beltre for the Rangers.
"It's humble to hear that from a guy that who is as good as he is," Beltre said. "It makes me appreciate what I've done in the game. But it's nice to see a guy like that come up and have the success he's had just two years into his career. He's learned so much and he's playing reguarly in the big leagues."
Beltre has always been a sociable player, more than willing to help younger players even on other teams and it is clear from their interactions on the field that he has quickly developed a good relationship with Arenado.
"I don't know how much I can help him, he's already one of the three best third basemen in the big leagues along with Manny Machado and Evan Longoria," Beltre said. "The kid's offense is getting better and his defense is not bad. He is making every play and looking comfortable."
• Former All-Star closer Neftali Feliz is still on the disabled list at Triple-A Round Rock, but general manager Jon Daniels said he is over the general fatigue in his right arm. Daniels said Feliz is getting close to begin throwing live batting practice. He has not pitched for Round Rock since April 16.
• Justin Germano will be the 21st pitcher used by the Rangers this season. Right now they are tied with the Yankees for most pitchers used in a game with 20.
• Leonys Martin went into Thursday's game hitting .226 against left-handed pitchers. But he was still batting in the No. 6 spot for the first time this season. Donnie Murphy had been hitting sixth against left-handers but went on the disabled list Thursday with a strained neck.
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.