ARLINGTON -- Derek Holland is close to beginning a medical rehabilitation assignment and is only waiting clearance from the Rangers.
Holland, who had surgery on his left knee in January, pitched three innings in a simulated game in Arizona on Thursday against hitters that included Jurickson Profar. The hitters were instructed to drop three bunts per inning to test Holland's agility and ability to field his position.
"I fielded bunts, did everything," Holland said. "I thought it went great, I feel like I've improved big-time. Now it's up to [the Rangers] to decide what's next."
Holland has been able to keep his arm going strong while going through rehabilitation so he could come quickly once the knee is sound. But he will still likely need at least three or four starts on rehab assignment before he is ready to return to the rotation.
"My arm felt great," Holland said. "I was able to command my fastball, my slider looked great, my changeup was great. My curve was bad, but that's my worst pitch."
Holland is scheduled to throw a bullpen for pitching coach Mike Maddux and bullpen coach Andy Hawkins on Saturday. The Rangers will decide what's next for Holland after that session.
"I want to do whatever it takes," Holland said. "These guys have been going through a lot and it all started with me. I'm biting the bullet, you guys have no idea. … I want to be out there so bad."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.