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Millwood to throw on longer rest

Millwood to throw on longer rest

ARLINGTON -- Kevin Millwood has averaged 112 pitches in his first three starts for the Rangers this season. That's up from 102 per game over his first three starts last year and 89 per game over the first three starts of 2007.

Manager Ron Washington said that's partly because of the extra rest Millwood has been getting during the first month of the season. Millwood's last two starts have been on five days' rest rather than the normal four.

"I think it's made a big difference the last two outings," Washington said. "Looking back, the Texas Rangers never let him pitch that much out of the chute. Each pitcher is going out there throwing more pitches than they have in the past. We're trying to get these guys as deep into the game as we possibly can."

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The Rangers are taking a different approach with Millwood early in the season. In the past, they juggled their rotation so that he could pitch every fifth day. That meant pushing other starters back to accommodate Millwood, who has a strong preference toward pitching on four days' rest.

They aren't doing that this season. Instead the Rangers are staying in a five-man rotation and using the off-days to give their starters extra rest.

Team officials will stay with their philosophy again this week even after three terrific starts by Millwood. The Rangers are off Monday, giving them another chance to move Millwood up a day and push fifth-starter Matt Harrison back. They won't do that. Instead, Harrison will pitch Thursday against the Blue Jays and Millwood will wait until Friday against the Orioles.

The Rangers are also operating under the assumption that extra rest in April will make a difference in August and September.

"I understand that," Millwood said. "I'm not arguing with them. I'd just like to pitch as often as possible. This just feels like I'm pitching once a week."

Millwood will start pitching on four days' rest pretty soon. Monday is the Rangers' last off-day until May 11, a stretch of 20 straight games.

Millwood is 1-1 with a 1.17 ERA after pitching a complete game in a 2-0 loss to Zack Greinke and the Royals on Saturday night. Millwood's complete-game loss was only the seventh by a Rangers pitcher at home since the Ballpark in Arlington opened in 1994. It's the first since Ryan Drese lost to the Astros, 1-0, on June 27, 2004.

Greinke also pitched a complete game. There were only two dual complete games in the Major Leagues last year, and three in 2007.

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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