ST. PETERSBURG - SEPTEMBER 07: Pitcher Derek Holland #45 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 7, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Derek Holland went through pregame pitcher's fielding practice on Thursday prior to the Rangers' shutout loss to the Detroit Tigers — their eighth straight loss — with hopes of being cleared to go out on a rehab assignment.
The results were better than the last time Holland did this, when he was sent back to Arizona to further strengthen his knee a couple of weeks ago. Now, he has to clear seemingly one more hurdle before being cleared to go on a rehab assignment and ramp up to a return to the big-league mound after his January microfracture surgery on his knee.
Holland is now set to throw a simulated game on Saturday morning, when hitters will bunt against him, to see how he gets off the mound and makes plays in the field.
"Not quite full speed, game speed, but a little more of an intense test with the knee," general manager Jon Daniels told reporters on Thursday. "We'll have guys bunt on him and run on him and the whole deal."
Holland was on the verge of a big season as the Rangers' No. 2 starter this year before tripping over his dog and falling down some stairs at home in January. Last year, Holland went 10-9 with a 3.42 ERA in 213 innings.