ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 4: Pitching coach Mike Maddux #31 of the Texas Rangers (C) looks on with a member of the team's medical staff (L) as they watch pitcher Joe Saunders of the Texas Rangers (R) react in pain after throwing a test pitch right after being hit by a batted ball by Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays during the fourth inning of a game on April 4, 2014 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Saunders came off the mound and was replaced by pitcher Daniel McCutchen of the Texas Rangers. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
The first opportunity for the Texas Rangers to move embattled starter Tanner Scheppers back to the struggling bullpen is being put on hold. That's because veteran starter Joe Saunders, who opened the season as the Rangers' No. 4 starter and made one start before taking a line drive off the ankle and hitting the disabled list, has suffered a setback.
Saunders is eligible to return from the DL on Sunday, but now will take a few days off after experiencing pain in a throwing session on Wednesday. It means he won't be ready to come off the DL on Sunday, and the timetable hasn't been set yet for when he could return.
Saunders' role with the club is probably as a short-term starter and long-term reliever as the bullpen's long man once everyone is healthy, such as Derek Holland and Matt Harrison, especially if Colby Lewis can be effective.
Saunders' Rangers tenure hasn't been too great so far. He made the one start in Tampa Bay — the Rangers' fourth game of the season — and gave up five runs (four earned) in 3 1/3 innings in a blowout loss.