Last Call from The Desert…Joe Nathan, Michael Kirkman
“It’s not going to be Carl Lewis-esque. It wasn’t ten years ago and for sure not today.”
Lance Berkman on running the bases Saturday to test his sore calf muscle.
“We just want to make sure he knows the way to the batter’s box.”
Joe Nathan hasn’t pitched in a Cactus League and probably won’t until at least March 3 at the earliest.
Nathan has been doing his throwing in the bullpen and threw live batting practice for the first time on Saturday. But he is about a week behind the other pitchers and that is by design. Nathan is 38 and the World Baseball Classic has made Spring Training even longer this season. He is going to take it slow this spring.
“Everything has been good,” Nathan said. “I threw 22-25 pitches (Saturday) and threw all my pitches and everything went well. Once we get rolling we’re hoping it won’t stop until the end of October or the beginning of November.
The Rangers lost to the Royals, 4-2, on Saturday as Brandon Wood hit a two-run walk-off home run against Jacob Brigham in the bottom of the ninth. The story of the day for the Rangers was Michael Kirkman.
He pitched two innings in relief of Randy Wells and retired six of seven batters. Kirkman struck out three and allowed one single.
The Rangers are rebuilding their bullpen this spring after losing so many pitchers to free agency. Kirkman is a left-hander with outstanding stuff but he has to show he can throw strikes and not walk hitters in crucial situations.
“It’s important for him to throw well,” manager Ron Washington said. “He can be a big piece for us and he threw the ball well today. He needs to throw strikes and use all his pitches.
“If he throws the ball the way he did today…wow.”
Washington spent the morning workout hitting ground balls to third baseman Adrian Beltre. Said Washington, “Hitting ground balls to Adrian Beltre is a chore because he’ll take them forever. Then he moves up on the grass and makes you whack balls right at him. And he doesn’t miss them.”