Nippert to debut in place of Padilla

Nippert stepping in for Padilla

ANAHEIM -- Dustin Nippert strained a muscle in his back throwing in a game against the Oakland Athletics. He thought he would be out a couple of days.

That was in Spring Training on March 19, when it appeared he would break camp with the Rangers as a member of their bullpen.

"Good Lord," Nippert said. "Three months later, I'm finally getting back."

He is coming back as a starter. Nippert will get the nod on Tuesday night against the Angels in his first game off the disabled list. His last outing was for Triple-A Oklahoma City on June 30, when he threw 76 pitches and allowed just one run on two hits over five innings.

"I just want to go out there as long as I can pitch," Nippert said. "My pitch count will be 90-95 pitches as long as I can keep us in the game and give us a chance to win."

Nippert replaces Vicente Padilla, who is being pushed back because of a strained right shoulder. Padilla threw a bullpen session on Monday in Anaheim without problems and is now scheduled to pitch on Wednesday against the Angels.

The rotation after that is a bit vague. Right now the plan is to use Tommy Hunter, Scott Feldman and Kevin Millwood in the first three games of a four-game series with the Mariners in Seattle. Sunday's starter is undecided.

The Rangers may move Derek Holland into the bullpen, depending on how it goes with Nippert. Holland has made seven starts, but the Rangers clearly prefer using him in the bullpen at this point in his career.

Nippert was supposed to pitch on Sunday for Oklahoma City but was scratched when the Rangers decided he was needed against the Angels. He threw a 12-minute bullpen session instead.

"He just needs to go as long as he can and pound the strike zone," manager Ron Washington said. "Let the defense play behind him. If he does that, I'll take my chances."

Pitching matchup
TEX: RHP Dustin Nippert (2009 debut)
Nippert, sidelined since the beginning of the season with a strained muscle in the back of his right shoulder, is coming off the disabled list to make his first start of the season. The right-hander had a 2.25 ERA in five games (four starts) during a Minor League rehab assignment. He was 0-1 with a 6.92 ERA in three games against the Angels last season, and he was 2-3 with a 5.63 ERA in six starts for the Rangers last year. Nippert replaces Vicente Padilla, who is sidelined with a sore right shoulder but has not yet been put on the DL.

LAA: RHP John Lackey (3-3, 4.70 ERA)
Lackey was superb, giving up two earned runs on four hits in eight innings in a win against the Orioles his last time out. He retired the first eight and 12 of the first 13 batters he faced. His seven strikeouts put him within one of tying Mark Langston for fifth place on the Angels' list of all-time strikeout leaders. Scioscia said Lackey's stuff was "the best I have seen in a few years." Lackey is 10-10 with a 5.79 ERA against the Rangers in his career.

Tidbits
Brandon McCarthy, on the DL with a stress fracture in his right shoulder blade, has begun a throwing program. ... Matt Harrison, sidelined with biceps tendinitis, was examined on Monday by a neurologist who found no nerve damage in his left arm. Harrison should be able to throw a bullpen session later this week. ... Both Harrison and McCarthy are unlikely to be back until August at the earliest. ... Catcher Max Ramirez has been placed on the disabled list at Oklahoma City with tendinitis in his left wrist.

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Up next
• Wednesday: Rangers (Vicente Padilla, 6-4, 4.75) at Angels (Ervin Santana, 1-4, 7.43), 9:05 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Rangers (Tommy Hunter, 1-1, 3.18) at Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 8-3, 2.62), 9:10 p.m. CT
• Friday: Rangers (Scott Feldman, 7-2, 3.91) at Mariners (Garrett Olson, 3-2, 4.58), 9:10 p.m. CT

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