ARLINGTON -- The Rangers gave Tommy Hunter an early birthday present on Friday, calling him up from a lengthy rehabilitation stint two days before his 25th birthday. "First things first, he's healthy and has been for some time," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. Even though Hunter has been a starter for his entire professional career, he was a closer for Alabama in college. He has been pitching exclusively out of the bullpen since June 22.
"We're looking at Tommy as part of the 'pen right now," Daniels said. "His stuff really played up out of the bullpen in Triple-A [Round Rock], similar to how it did [before]. We're going to see how it continues. He's going to have a chance to prove himself in that role, and see if he can be part of a winning formula for [manager] Ron [Washington's] bullpen." Hunter's fastball touched 97 mph on Thursday for Round Rock, and he collected the save by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
"It was fun," Hunter said of the opportunity to close. "You throw it as hard as you can, hope it goes over the plate, hope the umpire calls it a strike, and hope they don't hit it."For his part, Washington doesn't know how Hunter will fit into the bullpen. His lack of experience in a relief role serves as a blank slate from which Washington can work. "Whichever way I deem necessary," Washington said on how Hunter will be used. "If I need him to take us from start to finish and get to the back of the bullpen, he'll do that. If I need him right now to get us some outs in the eighth inning, I won't hesitate to do that. We'll just see." Even though the Rangers designated long reliever Dave Bush for assignment, that does not necessarily mean that Hunter will be utilized as the long man. "We've still got [Michael] Kirkman," Washington said. "[Yoshinori Tateyama] can give us three if we need three." Even though Hunter didn't appear in back-to-back games out of the bullpen on his rehab stint and pitched Thursday, Washington said he was available to pitch Friday. "There's a chance. He has to do it sometime. That's certainly something we talked about, that he hadn't gone back-to-back."