Germano callup forces difficult decision on Baker

Germano callup forces difficult decision on Baker

ARLINGTON -- There was a point in Spring Training when pitcher Justin Germano thought he might have cancer and never pitch again in the Major Leagues.

Turns out he didn't have cancer. He simply needed an unidentified procedure to have a mass removed and now, with that scare in the past, Germano is back in the Major Leagues. Germano was called up on Thursday while pitcher Scott Baker was designated for assignment.

"I really don't know what to think," Germano said. "I'm just happy to be here and get the call…help the bullpen, eat up some innings and give them some rest."

Baker was called up on Wednesday to do just that and he pitched 5 1/3 innings in a 9-2 loss to the Rockies. He allowed two runs and manager Ron Washington said he did a "tremendous" job. But the Rangers are still concerned about the workload of their bullpen and wanted another long reliever for Thursday. So Baker, who would have been unavailable for at least three days, was designated for assignment despite pitching well on Wednesday.

"It stinks," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He did everything we asked. Unfortunately we are at a spot where the bullpen is taxed because our starters are not getting deep into games."

The Rangers have 10 days to either trade Baker or put him through outright waivers. If Baker is not claimed off waivers, he could still take his release and become a free agent.

"We'll see if there is trade interest," Daniels said. "If there is not, we'll ask waivers."

The Rangers could have kept Baker by optioning Nick Martinez back to the Minor Leagues. But right now the Rangers want him in their bullpen rather than pitching every fifth day in the Minors. He has a 2.41 ERA in two starts and two relief appearances while opponents are hitting .222 off him.

"We feel Nick can be a winning piece in the bullpen and we wanted to keep him," Daniels said.

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.