Ross being pushed back, possibly for Saunders

Ross being pushed back, possibly for Saunders

HOUSTON -- The Rangers are pushing back Robbie Ross Jr.'s spot the starting rotation. It's not because he is 0-4 with a 7.76 ERA in his last five starts, it's because the Rangers are adjusting their rotation so that Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison won't have to pitch in a National League park.

The other advantage to the shift is that it could allow the Rangers to slide Joe Saunders into Ross' spot in the rotation if they want to make that change on Tuesday against the Mariners.

Ross, who has been in front of Lewis and Harrison in the rotation, pitched Sunday against the Red Sox. With the Rangers off on Thursday, Ross' next start would normally fall on Saturday against the Blue Jays. Instead the Rangers are going to go with Yu Darvish on Friday, Lewis on Saturday and Harrison on Sunday.

Manager Ron Washington said by moving Ross back, it sets up the rotation so that Lewis and Harrison won't have to pitch against the Nationals in Washington, D.C., during their three-game series May 30 to June 1. Because of their past injuries, the Rangers don't want Lewis and Harrison swinging a bat or running the bases in an Interleague game.

But the switch also makes it convenient for the Rangers to slot Saunders back into the rotation if they want to move Ross into the bullpen. Saunders, who is on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his left ankle, is scheduled to start for Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday.

If that goes well, Saunders could be ready to return to the rotation the following Tuesday on four days' rest if the Rangers want to bump Ross. The Rangers have not publicly stated that is a possibility.

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.