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OAK@TEX: Williams fans four in strong Rangers debut

Jerome Williams will get the start in the series opener when the Rangers visit the Indians at Progressive Field on Friday.

The 32-year-old right-hander wasn't originally slated to open the set, but Nick Tepesch is still not 100 percent as he recovers from left knee soreness.

Williams will start after a strong outing in his Rangers debut. He threw six innings of one-run ball with four strikeouts in a win over the A's last Friday in what was his first start of the season. Williams is 2-4 with a 5.53 ERA in 27 appearances in 2014, 26 of which came with the Astros, who designated him for assignment earlier this month.

"He gave us an outstanding job, he really did," Rangers manager Ron Washington said after Williams' Texas debut. "I'll take six innings every night with one run. He did it. He was changing speeds, was moving the ball around. … He really did a good job."

Williams, who'll be working on six days of rest, is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two career starts vs. the Indians, both of which came in 2013. In his lone start at Progressive Field, he pitched 5 2/3 innings allowing four earned runs on four hits in a loss as a member of the Angels.

For Cleveland, Justin Masterson was originally set to make his first start since July 7, but the righty was dealt to the Cardinals on Wednesday ahead of Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. Instead, Danny Salazar will make his first career start against Texas.

Salazar has worked his way back into the Indians rotation after about two months in Triple-A Columbus. He's averaging 10.25 strikeouts per nine innings, which would rank third-best in the American League if he had enough innings under his belt.

"Danny is a guy that's pretty much kept us in every game and is still learning," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona. "We want to find out about some of these guys. Sometimes if you wait until September or Spring Training, you don't get the real answer. Having some guys in the fire isn't necessarily a bad thing. We did it last year."

In his last start, Salazar let up only three earned runs over seven innings to Kansas City, earning a quality start and a win.

"I was trying to stay ahead in the count the whole game," Salazar said of his start against the Royals. "Even when I threw the first pitch for a ball, I tried to come back right after with a strike, and tried to get ahead all the time. I think that was the key."

Rangers: Holland feels good after first rehab outing
Derek Holland returned to the mound in a real game for the first time this season when he pitched two scoreless innings for Double-A Frisco in a medical rehabilitation assignment against Midland on Wednesday.

Holland did not allow a hit, walked two and struck out four. He threw 33 pitches. He did not have to test his left knee with any fielding chances.

"Just trying to get out there and get back into the swing of things," Holland said. "First time out, very excited, a lot of adrenaline flowing, but the main thing was I just wanted to execute my pitches. I felt like, overall, a couple bad walks, but for the most part, I'm feeling really good about how I was out there doing everything."

Holland underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee on Jan. 10 to repair torn cartilage. Holland injured the knee falling over his dog on a staircase at his house. The Rangers are expecting Holland to come off the disabled list at the end of August and possibly get five starts at the Major League level before the season is over.

Indians: Tribe won't rush Lindor, despite Cabrera trade.
With Asdrubal Cabrera set to become a free agent at the end of the season, there was always the possibility that the Tribe would part ways with him before Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

In the immediate, Cabrera's departure gives infielder Jose Ramirez a chance at more playing time, while utility man Mike Aviles is also expected to work himself into the mix at shortstop. In the not-too-distant future, however, the move likely expedites top prospect Francisco Lindor's ascension to the Majors.

Lindor is in the midst of a strong season in which he hit .278 with a .352 on-base percentage and 25 stolen bases at Double-A Akron before earning a promotion to Triple-A Columbus earlier this month. The young shorstop is off to a hot start with his new affiliate as well, having hit .323 with two homers through eight games.

The Indians' front office played coy about Lindor's chances of getting called up before the season ends. Should the former first-round Draft pick continue progressing at his torrid pace, however, the organization could be hard-pressed to keep him in the Minors.

"With Francisco, our focus is what's best for him developmentally," general manager Chris Antonetti said Thursday. "He's just now getting his first exposure to Triple-A and we're continuing to work with him on his development and his improvement. But I think right now, for us, it's Mike Aviles and Jose Ramirez at shortstop. As I've said, we were able to make this type of trade because of our belief in those two guys."

Worth noting
• In swapping Masterson for Ramsey, the Indians and Cardinals have now made 10 midseason trades with each other since 2002.

• Rangers outfielder Jake Smolinski said he is dealing with a small cracked bone in his left foot. He was hit on the foot by a foul ball last week in New York and is currently on the 15-day disabled list. He is eligible to come off next Wednesday, but he is still not running full speed.

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