Notes: Millwood ready to rebound

Notes: Millwood ready to rebound

CINCINNATI -- Rangers manager Ron Washington thinks Opening Day starter Kevin Millwood needs one thing.

One good game.

"He just needs a good game where he hits his spots and has some success," Washington said. "Once he does that, everything will start falling into place. He's only human. He just needs to have a solid performance and walk off the field feeling good and everything will take off from there."

Millwood pitches against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday and is looking for his first victory since April 13. Since then he is 0-5 with a 10.05 ERA in his last seven starts while missing a month because of a hamstring injury.

He allowed six runs (five earned) on Tuesday in a 7-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and said afterwards what he was going through was the "toughest" stretch of his career.

"It's just something I want to get past and start pitching better," Millwood said. "I know I can. It's a matter of going out and doing it. Hopefully it's quick, but this game is too tough to change right away. As long as I can go out and give us a chance, I'll be fine."

Millwood threw in the bullpen on Thursday and pitching coach Mark Connor described it as a good session.

"I was just consistent with my fastball in keeping it down," Millwood said. "That's been my biggest problem, missing with that pitch. Hopefully I can carry that into the game."

Padilla fine: Vicente Padilla was fine on Saturday after twice getting hit in the right pitching hand trying to barehand comebackers during Friday's start against the Reds.

"He's fine, but I don't like that at all," Washington said. "I hope he learns to catch a baseball without using his bare hand."

The main concern with Padilla is the irritation that he has been experiencing behind his right elbow, but he said that was not a problem after throwing 102 pitches on Friday.

"I felt a little stiff, but not much," Padilla said. "I was still throwing 93-94 [mph] in the fifth inning. It wasn't being a problem. I was still throwing good and it wasn't bothering me."

Littleton sent down: The Rangers optioned pitcher Wes Littleton to Triple-A Oklahoma to make room for Jamey Wright. Littleton is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in nine games over two different stays with the Rangers. Including Spring Training, this is the third time he has been sent to the Minors.

"He has plenty of options," Washington said. "I thought he performed very well. It was about options. Our options ... and he had options."

Scott Feldman, who was optioned on Friday, has also been demoted on three separate occasions this year as the Rangers try to keep their bullpen strong by taking advantage of pitchers who have options.

"If our pitching staff had been more stable, we could stop all that," Washington said. "If the pitching staff gets stable from here on out, the movement will stop."

The Rangers made room for Wright on the 40-man roster by calling up pitcher Josh Rupe from Oklahoma and putting him on the 60-day disabled list. He is still sidelined with soreness in his right elbow.

Kentucky honoring Wilkerson: Brad Wilkerson, who is playing this weekend three hours from his home in Owensboro, Ky., is being honored by his home state.

The Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame recently announced that Wilkerson will be a part of the 2008 induction class. Wilkerson played at Apollo High School in Owensboro before going on to the University of Florida. He also played football, basketball and soccer.

"It's a pretty big honor," Wilkerson said. "There are a lot of big names in there."

There are, a list that includes Muhammad Ali, Pat Riley, John Unitas, Bear Bryant and Paul Hornung, among many others.

He said it: "I will never have a bad thing to say about him. He's the one that got me started in the outfield and got my career going. I thought he was a good manager. He dealt well with the players and made good decisions on the field." -- Outfielder Frank Catalanotto, on former Rangers manager Jerry Narron, now with the Reds

Friday's Minor stars:
Gold: Class A Clinton third baseman John Whittleman was 4-for-5 in an 8-7 victory over Peoria.

Silver: Double-A Frisco outfielder Anthony Webster was 3-for-5 with a home run and three runs scored in a 6-5 loss to Corpus Christi.

Bronze: Oklahoma infielder Desi Relaford was 2-for-4 with three RBIs in the RedHawks' 6-2 victory over New Orleans.

Briefly: Ian Kinsler is 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts and is one of four Major Leaguers with at least that many stolen bases without having been caught. Julio Lugo (19), David Wright (15) and Johnny Damon (11) are the others. ... Adam Melhuse is expected to get his second start at catcher on Sunday.

Coming up: Millwood pitches the third and final game of the series vs. Cincinnati at 12:15 p.m. CT on Sunday at Great American Ball Park. Right-hander Bronson Arroyo will start for the Reds.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.