MILWAUKEE -- Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis will begin his medical rehabilitation assignment on Thursday when he pitches for Triple-A Round Rock against Las Vegas. Lewis has pitched twice at extended spring workouts but this will be his first appearance in a real game since undergoing surgery on July 27 to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow.
Lewis is scheduled to throw three innings and approximately 45 pitches as the clock starts on his 30-day rehab assignment.
"He just needs to go out there and build up arm strength," Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "He's been deemed healthy and the rehab has gone well, now it's time for the Spring Training stretch. This is his Spring Training but it counts."
Lewis likely will add an inning and 15 pitches each time he takes the mound on the rehab assignment. Four starts will get him up to six innings and approximately 90 pitches. At that point he could be considered an option for the Major League rotation. He could end up needing more time but the Rangers will have to make a decision on activating him once the 30 days have expired.
"He's healthy and he's bouncing back well," Maddux said. "That's the big thing when you're coming back from a medical procedure, being able to bounce back the next day after you throw. He's been bouncing back. Now it's about regaining the touch and feel that Colby has always had, regaining the command."
Rangers play it safe, place Pierzynski on DL
MILWAUKEE -- The Rangers placed catcher A.J. Pierzynski on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained oblique muscle after an MRI showed a Grade 1 strain. That's considered the mildest on a 1-3 scale but the Rangers still decided to put Pierzynski on the disabled list because the muscle in his right rib cage is not improving.
"We just want to be smart early in the season and get it taken care of," general manager Jon Daniels said.
Pierzynski has been dealing with this for the past two weeks and has been out of the lineup for five of the past nine games. The Rangers called up catcher Robinson Chirinos from Triple-A in a roster move that was made official on Friday. Pierzynski is eligible to be activated May 21.
Pierzynski has been on the disabled list only once in his career. That was for a broken wrist in 2011 while with the White Sox. But the oblique muscle has been a recurring problem for him the past few seasons and it has been particularly troublesome in the past few weeks.
"There was really no fight," Pierzynski said. "I understand. We had talked about it. We wanted to see what the MRI showed but I understand I can't play with this. I've played through a lot of things but this isn't getting any better. We just didn't want it to be something that lasts a month or six weeks. I'm frustrated and disappointed but I understand."
Geovany Soto will do most of the catching while Pierzynski is out. Chirinos was acquired from Tampa Bay on April 8 and is hitting .295 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 23 games at Round Rock.
"There have been good reports from the staff and the scouts that have been in there to watch him," Daniels said. "He gives you a good at-bat and handles the pitching staff well."
Huestis named Rangers' Honorary Bat Girl
MILWAUKEE -- Terri Huestis of Tuscola, Texas, has been named the Rangers' Honorary Bat Girl as part of Major League Baseball's ongoing Mother's Day efforts to create awareness in the fight against breast cancer. The Honorary Bat Girl contest recognizes 30 baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and demonstrate a commitment to find a cure for the disease.
The Rangers will be in Houston on Mother's Day this Sunday, so Huestis will be honored during pregame ceremonies on May 17 before the game against the Tigers at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Huestis was first diagnosed with breast cancer on Oct. 7, 2011, on her 40th birthday. She had a radical mastectomy on Oct. 19, 2011, with the removal of 20 lymph nodes. Fourteen were cancerous.
She began chemotherapy treatments in January 2012 but developed a staph infection after the first one and had to spend seven days in the hospital. After her fifth treatment, she became so sick that she lost 40 pounds and was hospitalized for another five days. Too ill for chemotherapy, she went through five weeks of radiation. A year after the surgery, she lost both her job and her insurance. She has been undergoing surgery and the final one is scheduled for June 13. She remains positive and convinced she can beat breast cancer.
"I know that I had breast cancer for a reason," Huestis said. "I know there is a ministry in my future to help women like me."
Slow starters: First inning proving tricky for Rangers
MILWAUKEE -- After Justin Grimm gave up five runs on Tuesday, the Rangers went into Wednesday's game having been outscored 22-8 in the first inning this season. That's one of just two innings the Rangers have been outscored by the opposition.
Opponents have outscored the Rangers 8-7 in the third inning. The 22 runs are the most the Rangers have allowed in any inning this season. They have allowed 18 in the sixth inning but scored 27. The first inning is the one that bedevils the Rangers.
Opponents are hitting .169 off Yu Darvish but they are batting .355 against him in the first inning. Grimm has held opponents to a .261 average but .346 in the first inning.
"I do know that usually with the better pitchers in the game, you've got to get them early," manager Ron Washington said. "As they go deeper in the game, they get better. A lot of games we've gotten out of the first inning pretty clean. You hit spurts in that area just like you hit spurts in other areas."
• Justin Grimm is averaging 9.73 strikeouts per nine innings. That's ninth best in the American League among pitchers with at least 25 innings. Said manager Ron Washington, "He's got a good breaking ball. He has two different ones. When he's got his breaking ball down, that's when it's at its [best]. He's also got a little mustard on his four-seam fastball."
• The Astros are pitching left-handers Dallas Keuchel and Erik Bedard against the Rangers on Friday and Saturday. Right-hander Jordan Lyles is scheduled to pitch on Sunday. The Rangers are 9-5 when their opponent starts a left-hander.
• Rangers pitchers struck out 10 on Tuesday. It's the 11th time in 33 games they have struck out at least 10 batters. That was tied for the fourth most in the Majors.
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.