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Hunter Gets Back on the Mound

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Hunter Gets Back on the Mound

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Rangers starter Tommy Hunter threw off a mound Tuesday for the first time since straining his right groin during spring training.

Hunter threw 38 pitches in a bullpen session at Rangers Ballpark.

"I felt good, no pain," Hunter said. "It's a good start."

Hunter got hurt in a spring training start March 24, hours after the Rangers announced the right-hander was in their starting rotation. He instead began the season on the disabled list for the second year in a row.

Hunter said he threw all of his pitches, like he had been when throwing off flat ground

"I'm on the way to being back. It was a big step," Hunter said. "Being pain free is only good when you're off the mound being pain free. I was pain free and we'll set up a (throwing) program and go from there."

The next step will be another bullpen session, though Hunter wasn't sure when that would be.

Hunter was 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA in 23 games last season, winning his first eight decisions after returning from a left oblique strain sustained in spring training. He was 9-6 as a rookie in 2009.

With Hunter out to start the season, the Rangers moved Alexi Ogando from the bullpen to the rotation. Ogando won his first two starts with 13 consecutive scoreless innings before allowing five runs in 6 1-3 innings, including three home runs, in a no-decision at the New York Yankees on Sunday night.

The Rangers also look forward to potential help from former NL Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb, who is trying to make a comeback from shoulder surgery that has kept him out since the 2009 season opener for Arizona. Webb has been making steady progress and is scheduled to throw another bullpen session Friday.

Along with Ogando, left-handers Matt Harrison (3-0, 1.23 ERA) and Derek Holland (2-1, 3.66) have been solid behind C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis, the top two pitchers in the Rangers' rotation.

Rangers manager Ron Washington insisted that he isn't even thinking about where Hunter and Webb can fit in the rotation since they aren't healthy yet. But he said "making those decisions will be great" when they are to pitch again.

"They're throwing well. Everybody is. It's a good problem to have," Hunter said. "You've just got to come back and fight your way back up. ... You've got to throw well to be in the big leagues and I haven't been able to throw. Just try to get healthy first, that's the first priority, and then go where they tell you to go."

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