DETROIT -- Reliever Joakim Soria has made just three appearances for the Rangers after being activated off the disabled list and missing 1 1/2 seasons because of Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. But the Rangers aren't exactly easing him back.
Soria was called upon to face the heart of the Tigers order in the eighth inning Saturday night. The Rangers were leading, 4-1, when Soria came in to face Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez.
Soria struck out Cabrera, gave up a single to Fielder and then retired Martinez on a fly to left. That brought up Jhonny Peralta, and Soria struck him out to end the inning. He has not allowed a run in his three appearances.
"I don't feel anything is off," Soria said. "The most important thing is my command is still there. That's the only thing I was looking for. I was never a power pitcher, even at my best. My fastball was 89-92 or 93 when I felt good. Most of the time it's all about location."
Soria's return gives manager Ron Washington two right-handed options for the eighth inning. Tanner Scheppers, who is 5-1 with a 1.84 ERA in 43 appearances, has done the job most of the season but Soria's presence will allow Washington to reduce his workload.
"It just depends; there are some nights when Scheppers will be there in the eighth and nights where it will be Soria," Washington said. "We're very fortunate because we've got two guys. This way we keep both of them sharp."
Rangers keeping tabs on trade target Garza
DETROIT -- The Rangers, in their ongoing search for starting pitching, continue to monitor Cubs right-hander Matt Garza. The Rangers had scouts in attendance at Wrigley Field on Saturday night to watch Garza pitch against the Cardinals.
Garza, who has been a target for the Rangers for the past couple of years, allowed two runs on 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out four, raising his record to 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA in 11 starts.
The Cubs have been in a selling mode the past few weeks, having already traded pitchers Scott Feldman and Carlos Marmol and outfielder Scott Hairston in three separate deals. They began Sunday in fourth place in the National League Central, 14 games out of first place, and the Rangers are among the teams that have inquired about Garza.
The Rangers have made no secret about their desire to upgrade a rotation that has been hit hard by injuries. But the Rangers are also optimistic that internal relief is coming soon. Yu Darvish is on the disabled list with a strained trapezius muscle but is expected to be activated July 22 to pitch against the Yankees.
Alexi Ogando could pitch the next day. Ogando, who is on the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder, is scheduled to throw 95 pitches in a start for Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday. If he clears that hurdle, he could pitch against the Yankees on July 23.
Holland penciled in to start second half
DETROIT -- The Rangers have tentatively decided that Derek Holland will pitch Friday against the Orioles to start the second half. The Rangers have also tentatively decided that Ross Wolf will be in the rotation to start the second half over Justin Grimm.
"I think he's earned that," manager Ron Washington said. "But that's tentative. It could be one start, it could be two starts or it could also be he's back in the bullpen."
Right now, the Rangers plan on Holland pitching Friday against the Orioles. The one thing that could change that is if Holland gets selected as a replacement pitcher for the American League All-Star team. Martin Perez and Wolf would pitch the next two games. Yu Darvish would then pitch July 22 against the Yankees in the fourth game after the break.
The fifth game would be for Alexi Ogando if he's ready to come off the disabled list. If not, Grimm would likely get that start. If Ogando is ready, Grimm could end up in the bullpen as the long reliever.
Grimm came out of his last start Friday with stiffness in his right forearm but the Rangers don't think it's serious enough to put him on the disabled list.
"He could have finished the game," Washington said. "It didn't bother him to throw. It just bothered him when he was sitting around."
Grimm may be healthy enough to start but he is 2-4 with a 9.91 ERA in his last eight starts and 7-7 with a 6.37 ERA on the season. Wolf is 1-2 with a 2.14 ERA in two starts and 11 relief appearances since being called up from Triple-A Round Rock on May 22.
• Jeff Baker, who is sidelined with a sprained right thumb, has been cleared for a medical rehabilitation assignment. He is expected to play for Double-A Frisco starting Monday with an eye toward being ready Friday.
• All-Star pitchers Darvish and Joe Nathan and outfielder Nelson Cruz will be flying to New York on Sunday on the Tigers' charter. The Tigers have six All-Stars plus manager Jim Leyland, his coaching staff and other members of their organization.
• The Rangers, going into Sunday, had not scored in the first inning in any of the six games on the road trip. The Rangers had also scored in the first inning in 16 of their first 94 games. They are 14-2 when they score in the first.
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.