Buzz: Profar gets first start in left field

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers experiment with Jurickson Profar in left field opens Saturday night against Houston.

Manager Ron Washington received the thumbs up from third-base coach Gary Pettis -- who works with the club's outfielders -- and away we go.

It's another way to get Profar in the lineup, and if gives the Rangers an option in left field when a left-handed starter is pitching.

"It give me another position I can put him at," Washington said. "That's what this is."

Profar has been going through drills in the outfield for three weeks with Pettis, who told Washington on Saturday that his project is ready. When asked what to expect, Pettis didn't offer any specifics.

"When I see him tonight I'll know," Pettis said.

Profar has taken to playing the outfield, and believes he's getting better at reacting to balls off the bat.

"I've worked on it a lot," Profar said. "I've been working on reacting to the ball off the bat, whether it's a jam shot or they square up."

One thing for Pettis to deal with is Saturday's 6:15 p.m. early start -- 50 minutes before the usual 7:05 p.m. game time. The sun is especially brutal on left fielders -- Leonys Martin had trouble with a line drive in last Saturday's early start against Cincinnati.

Pettis has been working with Profar on shielding the sun in the outfield.

"This kid is a quick learner," Washington said.

Tepesch had ups and downs: Right-hander Nick Tepesch had a big positive and one not so big positive in Friday night's start against Houston.

Tepesch started the outing with five shutout innings, doing a particularly good job against Houston's left-handed hitter, keeping them honest with his change-up. That included a strikeout of Carlos Pena, one of nine punchouts for a career high for Tepesch.

"He did a good job of keeping it down and away in the zone," Washington said. "It's something he needs consider doing more and more."

Tepesch also allowed all four batters he faced in the top of the sixth to reach base. Washington thought the heat impacted the rookie pitcher.

"What I saw is he ran out of gas," Washington said. "The extension on the fastball wasn't there."

It's part of a process all young pitchers have to work through, whether it's dealing with the heat, going through the lineup a second and third time or getting the third out of an inning. Rookie Justin Grimm, who will start Sunday's game, is going through it too.

"(Nick) has to learn how to get over the hump," Washington said. "The way he came out of the shoot I thought he was going eight or nine."

Soria possible for Sunday: Reliever Joakim Soria was given a second day off Saturday after going back-to-back appearances for Double-A Frisco to complete his rehab assignment, putting him on target to be activated for Sunday's season finale against Houston.

Soria will be worked back methodically by the Rangers. He hasn't pitched in a big league game since the 2011 season.

"We're confident in his ability to get outs and he lacks none," Washington said.

Lewis does more work: Right-hander Colby Lewis (elbow soreness) threw another bullpen on Saturday as he pushes closer to his second rehab assignment this season.

West patch is on: The Rangers will wear a "SUPPORT WEST" patch on the right sleeve of their game jersey sleeves for Saturday night's game in honor of "City of West Night" at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Jerseys will be raffled to raise additional funds for relief efforts. This is the first time the Rangers have worn a patch other than the Texas flag on their uniform since the 2011 World Series.