Millwood ready to put flu bug behind him

Millwood ready to put flu bug behind him

KANSAS CITY -- Kevin Millwood will be on the mound for the Rangers on Sunday. Closer Frank Francisco will not.

Millwood will be pitching despite being one of several Rangers who were stricken with the flu in the past seven days. Millwood seemed to have one of the milder cases and should be fine to face the Royals.

"I'm good," Millwood said. "I'll be ready. I was just coughing and just kind of feeling weak, but my energy is better right now. It's nothing I can't deal with."

Francisco will not be facing hitters on Sunday. The reliever, who leads the Rangers with 15 saves, remains on the disabled list with walking pneumonia. He is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday, but that's not going to happen.

He is still several days away from pitching.

"He's working out and doing well at the stadium in Arlington, doing his running and throwing," general manager Thad Levine said.

The Rangers originally thought Francisco would be ready by Sunday and they did not think he would need a rehabilitation assignment in the Minor Leagues. But they may need to reconsider that, as Francisco has not pitched in a game since before the All-Star break.

"That has yet to be determined," Levine said. "We're going to have to reassess that and see how his workouts are going."

With Francisco sidelined, the Rangers have been going with an eight-man bullpen and just three players on the bench. The Rangers have been hoping to add a bench player and drop a reliever, but the flu outbreak has prevented that because the pitching staff was hit harder than the lineup.

The Rangers are hoping they can go back to a seven-man bullpen and a four-man bench by Monday, when they face the Tigers in Arlington. By then, Dustin Nippert will be available as a reliever. He was needed in a spot start on Wednesday in place of Vicente Padilla and pitched 5 1/3 innings, effectively taking him out of action for four days. Doug Mathis pitched 3 2/3 innings in relief on Wednesday but is now rested and available in the bullpen.

Pitching matchup
TEX: RHP Kevin Millwood (9-7, 3.44 ERA)
Millwood earned the win after pitching six innings and allowing two earned runs to the Red Sox on Monday. He has now won six consecutive decisions at home. It was his team-leading 13th quality start of the season. He has thrown at least six innings in 18 of his 20 starts this season. On the road, he is 2-6 with a 4.55 ERA over 61 1/3 innings pitched. In 12 career starts against the Royals, Millwood is 6-4 with a 4.34 ERA over 76 2/3 innings. That includes two complete games, one of which was a complete-game loss against the Royals this season in which Millwood allowed just two runs and five hits.

KC: RHP Sidney Ponson (1-6, 7.63 ERA)
Back from the DL, Ponson worked five-plus innings on Tuesday against the Angels and was massaged for six runs. Except for a home run, he wasn't hit all that hard but a flood of seven singles kept him in hot water. Ponson ran up a lot of pitches in a short time, 98, although he walked just two. This was his first outing since a six-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Omaha in which he posted an impressive 2.18 ERA in 33 innings. He'd been out with a right elbow strain.

Scott Feldman, after allowing four hits in eight innings on Friday, has held opponents to a .217 average as a starter. That's the third-lowest in the league. ... With their 2-0 victory over Zack Greinke and the Royals on Friday, the Rangers have beaten both the American League and National League ERA leaders in their home park. They beat Dan Haren and the D-backs, 2-1, on June 24 in Arizona. ... The Rangers are 9-11 this year in games in which they have faced an opposing starting pitcher who at the time was ranked in the top 10 in their league in ERA.

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Up next
• Monday: Rangers (Tommy Hunter, 2-1, 2.17) vs. Tigers (Armando Galarraga, 5-8, 4.82), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Tuesday: Rangers (Vicente Padilla, 7-5, 4.67) vs. Tigers (Lucas French, 1-1, 2.22), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Wednesday: Rangers (Scott Feldman, 9-3, 3.59) vs. Tigers (Justin Verlander, 11-5, 3.12), 7:05 p.m. CT

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