Michael Kirkman gets second chance in bullpen

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Michael Kirkman was packing his gear getting ready to go home when he received word that his season was not over.

Not long after Kirkman and the Round Rock Express had been eliminated from the Pacific Coast League playoffs on a walk-off home run in extra innings, the left-handed relief pitcher was told he was being recalled by the Rangers.

“I didn’t know it was coming,’’ Kirkman said. “All of a sudden, I had two more weeks left.’’

He arrived in Arlington on Sunday and worked a scoreless ninth inning in Texas’ 10-4 victory over Cleveland on Tuesday. He allowed one hit, a double by Lonnie Chisenhall, and struck out Matt LaPorta.

“It felt great to be back out there,’’ Kirkman said. “Personally, it hasn’t been a great year for me, but it is part of the growing experience.’’

The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder from Lake City, Fla., who turns 25 on Sunday, had a month-long stay with the Rangers in June and failed to regain form of his prior season. In 2011 with the Rangers, he is 1-1 with a 7.03 ERA with 12 walks in 24 1/3 innings.

At Triple-A Round Rock, Kirkman was 3-3 with a 5.05 ERA in 27 appearances, including seven starts. He struck out 84 in 73 innings.

Following an August call-up in 2010, Kirkman in 16 1/3 innings struck out 16 and recorded an ERA of 1.65.

“For me, the big thing is getting ahead of the hitter,’’ Kirkman said. “When I do that, then I can go after him.’’

On a team with four starting pitchers age 30 or younger, Kirkman said he’s lucky to be with an organization that gives younger pitchers a chance.

“I’m happy to help in any role they need, but I would like to be in a starting rotation at some point in my career,’’ Kirkman said.