The second baseman missed more than a month because of a stress fracture in his left foot that he suffered on July 2. He returned in time to play the entire three-game series against the Indians, but Friday night's game will mark the first time Kinsler has played on FieldTurf since the injury.
Artificial surfaces tend to cause a lot of wear and tear on players' bodies, and Rangers manager Ron Washington said he wants to make sure Kinsler doesn't push himself too hard at such an early stage of his recovery.
"I told Ian I don't want him to be Superman," Washington said. "If he feels anything on this turf to let us know. We don't need to lose him, we just got him back. We don't need him to try and be a hero, or try and act like he'll take one for the team. We don't need that, we need him to play the rest of the year."
Kinsler says his foot has continued to feel better every day and that the series in Toronto will be a perfect opportunity to see if he's back to full strength.
"The soreness is starting to go away," Kinsler said. "I'm thinking if I can get through this turf series my foot should be completely fine. I shouldn't have any soreness -- if I can get through the roughest surface, then I'm definitely 100 percent."
Kinsler said the latter part of his recovery had become just as much mental as it was physical -- figuring out what he was healthy enough to do. Now, he's reached the point where he can start pushing his body again without worrying about the repercussions.
"It was more in my rehab starts that I wasn't really letting go," Kinsler said. "I wanted to be careful. I wanted to get back. I didn't want to hurt myself there. But when I was playing in Cleveland, I felt 100 percent. Every day I think I went 100 percent -- I didn't really hold back."
Padilla gets washed away: On Thursday, Vicente Padilla made his fourth rehab start since being placed on the 15-day disabled list with right triceps irritation. Unfortunately for the Rangers right-hander, things didn't go as planned.
Padilla, pitching for Double-A Frisco, allowed four runs in the first inning before rain forced the game to be suspended.
Despite the rough first inning, Rangers pitching coach Mark Connor says not to read too much into the outing because of the rough weather conditions.
"It was sprinkling to start the game and the mound got a little wet," Connor said. "So he took it easy, which I'm glad he did."
Padilla will take the mound again on either Sunday or Monday. If the Rangers decide to hold him back until Monday, it's likely that Padilla will be stretched out to throw 60-65 pitches. That number won't be quite as high if he pitches one day earlier. Connor said the decision on which day Padilla pitches will be made once he's had a chance to talk with his starter.
Byrd's cleaning up: Washington unveiled a new lineup prior to the opener of a three-game set against Toronto. Designated hitter Jason Botts was moved down to the fifth spot of the order, while center fielder Marlon Byrd was promoted to cleanup duties.
"Byrd has the most experience and I think he can handle off-speed stuff much better," Washington. "I'll let him handle the [junk] they throw to No. 4 hitters, which they do. He's the oldest, and the guy who has the most games. So, I'll let him try and deal with hitting breaking balls, changeups, and that kind of thing."
Since being recalled from Triple-A on Wednesday, Botts had spent his first three games batting cleanup. But Botts says it doesn't matter to him where he hits in the lineup. He's just happy to be back in the Major Leagues with an opportunity to contribute.
"I'm just excited for the opportunity to drive in runs regardless of whether I'm batting fourth of fifth," Botts said. "I'm going to stick to the same approach in whatever spot I'm in and hopefully good things happen."
Millwood gets the OK: As expected, Rangers right-hander Kevin Millwood took the mound for his scheduled start against the Jays on Friday night. Millwood was battling flu-like symptoms earlier in the week but Washington said that by gameday his pitcher had recovered enough to take his regular turn in the rotation.
"I wouldn't say he's totally symptom-free," Washington said. "But he's certainly feeling good enough to go out there and pitch."
Coming up: Kameron Loe (5-9, 5.80 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for Texas when the Rangers face the Blue Jays at 12:07 p.m. CT on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre. Toronto will counter with right-hander Shaun Marcum (7-4, 3.67).
Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less