OAKLAND -- The Rangers have finally set their rotation for the upcoming three-game series with the Mariners, and it is predicated on keeping Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis swinging a bat in Colorado on their next road trip.
So Robbie Ross will pitch on Friday, and Lewis will start on Saturday. Harrison's debut, originally scheduled for Friday, will be pushed back to Sunday. He will be making his first start since April 6, 2013. That leaves Yu Darvish, Martin Perez and Ross to pitch the three-game series against the Athletics next week in Arlington.
Lewis, Harrison and Darvish would pitch against the Angels the following weekend in Anaheim. That would also mean Lewis and Harrison do not pitch in Colorado during a two-game series on May 5-6. That turned out to be the deciding factor in the Rangers setting up their rotation.
"We don't want them on the basepaths and we don't want them swinging the bat, so we had to adjust it," manager Ron Washington said. "We don't need Harrison swinging and missing and we don't need Colby running the bases, because we know he can hit."
Harrison understands the Rangers' concerns after missing almost all of last season because of a herniated disk in his lower back. He already had one setback early in Spring Training, and he doesn't need another one.
"I haven't swung the bat in a long time," Harrison said. "This gives me time to see how I recover from pitching every five days. I'm just glad to get back. The way I felt last year, I didn't know if I would ever pitch again."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.