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Francisco joins 'pen with Nippert on DL

Francisco joins 'pen with Nippert on DL

DETROIT -- Right-hander Frank Francisco joined the Rangers bullpen on Tuesday and left-hander Eddie Guardado is expected to be activated on Wednesday.

Francisco was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma when right-hander Dustin Nippert was placed on the disabled list because of a blister on his right foot. Guardado, on the disabled list because of a sore left shoulder, came through a throwing session on Monday without any problems and is ready to go.

"I feel good," Guardado said before Tuesday's game with the Tigers. "I'm ready to get after it and see what happens. My bullpen [on Monday] was a lot better than two days ago. I'm getting better every time out. I'll be ready for [Wednesday]."

Guardado pitched in just two games before having to go on the disabled list. Nippert pitched in six games and was 1-2 with a 16.62 ERA before developing the blister on his big toe that put him on the disabled list.

That opened a spot for Francisco, who had a rough Spring Training, but has been dominating as the closer at Oklahoma. Francisco has made eight appearances for the RedHawks and has not allowed a run in nine innings. He has given up just three hits and three walks while striking out 16.

The Rangers wanted him to improve both his split-fingered fastball and curveball in Oklahoma and the numbers suggest that has been the case.

"Pretty much everything is better," said Francisco, who had a 5.63 ERA in Spring Training. "I've been throwing my [split-fingered fastball] for strikes, my curveball for strikes and my location is way better on my fastball. I'm getting ahead in the counts with my fastball and my splits and late in the counts I'm throwing my offspeed pitches, not necessarily for strikes, but where I want them.

"During Spring Training I was working hard to get ready for the season and sometimes my body is not always ready for that hard work. I've never had a good Spring Training."

The Rangers will have to make a roster move to activate Guardado. One possibility would be to put Kason Gabbard on the disabled list if his back problem persists. If not, they'll have to make a move with one of their relievers.

It won't be Francisco, manager Ron Washington said.

"Our intention wasn't to bring him here for one night," Washington said.

Josh Rupe and Wes Littleton both have options while Franklyn German would have to be exposed to outright waivers. Rupe has a 5.73 ERA, but he has taken over as the Rangers long man now that Jamey Wright is being used as a setup reliever in the late innings.

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

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