BOSTON -- Pitcher Derek Holland threw 50 pitches in a simulated game in Surprise, Ariz., on Saturday without any problems. His next step will be pitching for the Arizona Rookie League Rangers on a medical rehabilitation start on Friday. If that goes well, Holland will likely be assigned to either Double-A Frisco or Triple-A Oklahoma.
The goal is still to get Holland stretched back out as a starter, even though the Rangers might have a more pressing need in the bullpen. Dustin Nippert, the club's long reliever, has been used just three times since starting against the Pirates on June 23. In those three outings, he has allowed five runs in 6 1/3 innings.
"We want to get Derek back and stretched out so he can be a rotation option," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "He might be a bullpen option at some point, but in general, we'd like for him to be ready to be in the rotation."
Holland has been on the disabled list since the end of May with inflammation in his left shoulder and a sprained right knee.
Rich Harden showed he's still not close to returning to the rotation. He gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in 31/3 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City against Iowa on Friday. He threw 67 pitches.
Harden, who is on the disabled list with a strained lower back muscle, will start again Wednesday against Iowa, but it's likely he'll need one more start after that.