SEA@TEX: Nick Tepesch on leaving start after injury

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Rangers won't be concerned about rookie starter Nick Tepesch's bruised right arm when he helps open a four-game series Thursday against the Minnesota Twins.

It will be his first start since a line drive that ricocheted off his throwing arm above the wrist forced him to exit in the second inning of his third career start Saturday at Seattle. Tepesch threw a 45-pitch bullpen session Monday and headed to Minneapolis one day early, avoiding an arduous travel night as the Rangers departed late from the West Coast on Wednesday after a night game with the Angels.

Texas manager Ron Washington insisted prior to Tepesch's start that the injured wrist is a non-issue.

"He's fine. If it don't go right for him, we won't go blaming the wrist," Washington said.

Added as the Rangers' fifth starter on April 9, Tepesch (1-1, 3.07 ERA) gave up only one run in his MLB debut against Tampa Bay before allowing four runs on nine hits in his second appearance. Tepesch recorded three strikeouts in seven batters faced prior to being pulled against Seattle.

Rangers deal with rough travel after West Coast trip

TEX@LAA: Pierzynski opens the scoring with a single

MINNEAPOLIS -- There were several bleary-eyed, tired faces in the Texas Rangers' visiting clubhouse Thursday afternoon.

The Rangers concluded their 11-3 series-clinching victory over the Angels at 10:27 p.m. in Anaheim on Wednesday. They immediately bolted to catch a flight to the Minneapolis, where they would open a four-game series with the Twins, but after a long flight across two time zones, the Rangers didn't arrive at their hotel until close to 6:30 a.m Thursday.

Although Texas has won five of its last six games, the quick turnaround is a notable obstacle, as it comes 10 games into a stretch of 13 straight.

"We'd like to thank the scheduling committee for giving us the night game in Anaheim with the short commute to Minneapolis, which is right around the corner," catcher A.J. Pierzynski joked. "But that's part of it. You deal with it. Nobody's going to feel sorry for us."

Even with the limited rest, Rangers manager Ron Washington isn't anticipating any significant adjustments, apart from canceling batting practice before the game.

Washington considered pulling Pierzynski, who was behind the plate for all three games of the Angels series, after seven innings Tuesday. But he was turned away when he went to the 36-year-old catcher to make the move.

"He's an animal. He didn't want to come out," Washington said. "He said, 'No and I want to catch tomorrow.' That was the end of it."

It could have been worse. The Rangers appear to have lucked out weather-wise, missing the wintry conditions that have plagued the Twins at Target Field throughout one of the coldest Aprils in Minnesota history.

While game-time temperature Thursday is was a bit brisk, around 50 degrees, spring may finally arrive by Friday with 70-degree temperatures predicted throughout the weekend.

Baker may be back on field by Friday

TEX@LAA: Baker makes terrific catch, leaves injured

MINNEAPOLIS -- Texas utility man Jeff Baker could be back in the Rangers' starting lineup as early as Friday.

Typically used against left-handed pitching, Baker was held from the lineup Wednesday when the Rangers faced Los Angeles Angels southpaw Michael Roth due to lingering swelling in his right knee.

But after X-rays revealed no structural damage and Baker was given an extra day off, he is tracking toward being available for the majority of the Rangers' four-game series with the Twins.

"He got treatment today. His mobility is better, but I'm looking for him to be available tomorrow," manager Ron Washington said.

Minnesota left-hander Scott Diamond is slated to start Friday, making it a likely night for Baker to return.

Baker's injury came on a dazzling sliding catch near the left field wall in the first inning Tuesday at Angels Stadium. Baker had to the leave the game early as his knee quickly became swollen.

Two days later, Washington isn't ruling out the possibility of using Baker as a pinch-hitter Thursday.

"He might be a little secret weapon tonight off the bench; one swing of the bat," Washington said.