KANSAS CITY -- Class A Myrtle Beach opened the Carolina League playoffs against Winston-Salem on Wednesday, while the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders began their Texas League playoffs against Corpus Christi.The RoughRiders are playing a best-of-five series, while the Pelicans are in a best-of-three against a team that had the best record in the Minor Leagues this season. Winston-Salem will also host all three games by virtue of winning both the first- and second-half titles in the Northern Division. The RoughRiders play the first two games in Frisco and the final three in Corpus Christi. The RoughRiders' pitchers for the first three games are Barret Loux (14-1, 3.47 ERA), Wilfredo Boscan (7-5, 3.75) and Nick Tepesch (6-3, 4.28). Cody Buckels could also get a start at some point, while Justin Grimm will work in relief. The RoughRiders are without third baseman Mike Olt and shortstop Jurickson Profar, who are with Texas in the big leagues. The Pelicans have also had significant turnover in their roster as the season has progressed. Their three starters are Luke Jackson (5-2, 4.39), Joe Van Meter (4-5, 2.06) and Nicholas McBride (2-3, 3.76). The Rangers had five of their six Minor League teams make the playoffs last season. They had three this year, including the squad that has already won the Arizona Rookie League title.
Rangers' Ross hopeful to begin throwing program
KANSAS CITY -- Left-handed pitcher Robbie Ross, who is on the disabled list with a strained left forearm, went back to Texas on Wednesday to be examined by Dr. Keith Meister.
The Rangers described the visit as a "checkup" and Ross is hoping to begin a throwing program on Thursday if he is cleared by Meister.Ross is 6-0 with a 1.78 ERA in 52 games for the Rangers and was placed on the disabled list last Friday more as a precautionary measure. Ross had some soreness in the forearm but said he could pitch through it. The Rangers decided not to take that chance, leaving them with Michael Kirkman and Martin Perez as their only left-handers in the bullpen.
The Rangers expect Ross back well before the end of the season."He has been a big piece for us, but Kirkman has certainly stepped up," manager Ron Washington said. "We need to throw that other kid [Perez] into the fire." Kirkman has worked 10 2/3 scoreless innings over his last nine games with opponents hitting .114 off him in that stretch. He has pitched his way into consideration for being on the playoff roster. Kirkman and Ross would give the Rangers two left-handers in their postseason bullpen. "They've certainly been instrumental for us," Washington said. "It's definitely something we'll consider." That would make the competition even stiffer for the right-handed relievers to make the postseason roster.
Closer Joe Nathan and setup relievers Mike Adams and Alexi Ogando are guaranteed spots. Less certain are roles for Roy Oswalt, Mark Lowe, Tanner Scheppers, Koji Uehara and possibly Scott Feldman, who would likely move from the rotation to the bullpen for the playoffs.
Napoli continues to make strides in recovery
KANSAS CITY -- The daily watch on injured catcher Mike Napoli continues and Wednesday was a good day for him. He didn't run the bases, but Napoli ran around the infield on the outfield grass and had no problems with his strained left quad muscle.Napoli described his running as being at about "75 percent" speed. "Everything felt good," Napoli said. "I wasn't guarding it at all. I was running smoothly, I wasn't forcing it. That's a good sign." Being able to run the bases would be the final step before Napoli is either activated or sent out on a medical rehabilitation assignment. His chances of going on a rehab assignment rest on how long Double-A Frisco can stay alive in the Texas League playoffs. "It doesn't matter to me," Napoli said. "I have been tracking pitches in the bullpen, taking batting practice, doing everything but running."
Hamilton's bat drawing highest bid in auction
KANSAS CITY -- An autographed bat by outfielder Josh Hamilton has received the highest bid so far in the Rangers Wives and the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation currently taking place online.There are 37 items being auctioned and Hamilton's Louisville Slugger bat was going for $1,175. Next is Michael Young's autographed bat at $950 and Ian Kinsler's autographed glove at $800. The auction ends Sept. 12 at noon CT, and the proceeds go towards Kenna's Kids, a nonprofit organization that reaches out to individual families with children experiencing medical challenges at a young age. Annually, Kenna's Kids selects three children and their families to assist with medical bills and provide a network of support.
Rangers sign Profar's younger brother, Juremi
KANSAS CITY -- The Rangers signed Juremi Profar, the younger brother of Texas infielder Jurickson Profar. The Curacao native is 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, making him taller and bigger than his now famous brother. At 16, Juremi is three years younger.Juremi Profar is also not considered as high of a prospect as his brother. But not many are. Juremi plays third base with a strong arm and some power potential with the bat. "He's a really good hitter and a fielder, too," Jurickson said. "It would be fun to play with him. My first baseball game, I played with him. I was 6 and he was 3. We won the game. We didn't lose any games. We were 16-0." Juremi Profar will likely begin his career for the Rangers next year in the Dominican Summer League.
Second baseman Ian Kinsler served as the designated hitter for the 11th time this season on Wednesday. Manager Ron Washington said he wanted to get Michael Young on the field after three straight starts at DH. Mike Olt started at first base with Royals left-hander Everett Teaford on the mound. The Angels and the Athletics played on Wednesday afternoon, but the Rangers didn't watch the game on TV in the clubhouse. Washington didn't know who was winning when he had his pregame meeting with the media. Said Washington, "We're focused on Kansas City. If we take care of our business, it won't matter what they do. We're only concerned about ourselves." The Rangers have been picked off base 11 times this season, the most in the Major Leagues.
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.