"He's ready to go," manager Ron Washington said before the Rangers' game on Wednesday against the Padres. "The reports we got say he's ready to go. That's what we brought him for, to bring him to the big leagues, and he's ready, so we made the decision to do it. We challenge him now."
Oswalt threw a bullpen session on Tuesday in Round Rock with club president Nolan Ryan watching. Friday will be his first start in the Major Leagues since Game 4 of the National League Division Series with the Phillies against the Cardinals last October.
Oswalt said he is "pretty close" to pitching at the level that he is accustomed to pitching at and at the level the Rangers need for their injury-smacked rotation.
"The biggest thing [in the Minors] was building up arm strength and getting into pitching shape," Oswalt said. "You can lift a lot of weights and throw a lot of bullpen [sessions], but until you go up against hitters and get into pitching shape, there is nothing like that. The biggest thing was to get up to 100 pitches and see where I am physically. I feel pretty good. My last start I felt stronger and stronger as I went, and it was the best I felt mechanically."
The Rangers signed Oswalt after Neftali Feliz went on the disabled list with a sprained right elbow on May 18. Since then, the Rangers have had to put both Derek Holland (stomach virus) and Alexi Ogando (strained right groin muscle) on the DL.
"He brings experience," Washington said. "He's pitched in many big-time games. We know he's not intimidated. [We] certainly expect him to eat a lot of innings, and by eating those innings, help us win ballgames. That's the bottom line -- we're here to win ballgames."
This will be Oswalt's 12th season as a Major League pitcher. He was with the Astros from 2001-10 before being traded to the Phillies. He has a career record of 159-93 with a 3.21 ERA and is a three-time All-Star.
Oswalt won 20 games for the Astros in 2004 and '05, but said the best he's ever pitched was in '10 after being traded to the Phillies. He went 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 12 starts and one relief appearance after being acquired on July 29.
He went 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts for the Phillies last season, and was placed on the disabled list twice because of back problems. He has been on the DL five times in the past six seasons because of back and hip problems, but said Wednesday he is feeling good physically.
"I feel as good as I've ever felt," Oswalt said. "I don't have any complications."
He became a free agent after the season but did not sign with any clubs during the winter. He lives in Mississippi and wanted to pitch with either the Rangers or the Cardinals. But neither team had enough interest until the Rangers started getting hit with injuries.
Now, he is ready to pitch in the Major Leagues again.
"This is why you play, to get back out there and compete," Oswalt said. "Every player looks forward to the competition. You miss that. There is nothing like being on a Major League field. I'm looking forward to it. I'm hoping to help get this team back in the playoffs and push them through the last game."