Buzz: Ogando still an option for 5th starter

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish and Martin Perez will get two starts this week as the Rangers skip their fifth starter with Thursday's off day coming up and an important series looming against the division-leading Oakland A's after three tough games against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

As for that fifth starter spot, which will come up again Tuesday at Tampa Bay, that's still undecided.

But Rangers manager Ron Washington didn't shoot down the idea of Alexi Ogando, who is currently pitching out of the bullpen, making that start. Ogando picked up the win Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels, working 1⅓ scoreless innings out of the bullpen.

"Ogando has always been a candidate," Washington said. "We're trying to get him to face hitters. We'll make that decision as he moves deeper. Right now, he's going to be sitting in the bullpen."

Ogando has been on the disabled list three times this season while making 15 starts and going 5-4 with a 3.47 ERA. He's dealt with right shoulder inflammation and right biceps tendinitis.

Again, that doesn't mean he won't start Tuesday against the Rays. Nick Tepesch and Travis Blackley, who have made the past three starts when a fifth guy was needed, are also candidates for that start.

"I wouldn't be shocked if I see Ogando start a game," Washington said. "And I won't be shocked if I see him coming out of the bullpen. I just don't have an answer definitely today."

As long as Ogando is in the bullpen, he could pitch in back-to-back games. On a day such as Monday, when Ogando has worked the day before, it will all come down to the report pitching coach Mike Maddux provides to Washington before the game.

"If I did use him [Monday night], it would be for him to come and get some outs, not throw in multiple innings," Washington said. "We know what he can do coming out of that bullpen, and he did that yesterday. That's not to say you won't see him start a game, but for right now, he threw two innings yesterday and we'll find out how he feels today."

Murphy on sitting: David Murphy was out of the starting lineup Monday, and rookie Jim Adduci was in, as Washington is trying other options in left field.

Murphy also didn't play Sunday against the Angels.

"It's obvious," Washington said. "David is struggling. I'll play another guy and see what he can do."

Murphy is 5-for-27 in his past 12 games. He has the third-lowest batting average among American League qualifiers at .221. It's just been one of those seasons for a player who helped the Rangers reach the playoffs the past three seasons.

"You’d like to think at some point throughout the course of the season, I was going to figure something out, get on a hot streak and contribute," Murphy said. "That hasn’t exactly happened. I feel like I’ve been in a five-month slump basically. I might’ve had a five- or six-game streak where I hit .300, but I feel like most players have that 10-15-game streak a few times during the season where they hit .400 or .450. That just hasn’t happened."

Wash on Hurdle: The Pirates arrived in Arlington on Monday as baseball's surprise team, even though they were swept over the weekend by St. Louis and fell out of first place.

The Pirates are still 81-61 and guaranteed their first nonlosing season in 20 years. There's a reason for that, said Washington, when asked about the Buccos.

"Clint Hurdle," Washington said of the Pirates manager and Rangers hitting coach when they made it to their first World Series in 2010. "That's my impression. They have some talent over there. One thing that Clint has that he's always had -- he can communicate."

Washington didn't just stop at Hurdle's people skills. He also raved about his knowledge of the game.

"He's a well-prepared guy," Washington said. "He's very studious. He knows his opponents in and out. He knows his players in and out. And the general manager and ownership have given him what he needs to make a run. He's done a great job in three years."

Pressure? What pressure?: The Rangers are 1½ games behind Oakland with 20 games to play in another tight American League West race.

That would be cause for some tension, right? Wrong, Washington said Monday.

"I don't feel pressure," Washington said. "I've been in this game too long to feel pressure."

Berkman sits: Designated hitter Lance Berkman hasn't been in the starting lineup for five games now, going back to last Tuesday in Oakland, but he said Monday that he gets it.

Berkman was 0-for-6 in those two games, though Washington said Monday he thought the veteran had good at-bats. Berkman still will be used as a pinch hitter.

"I understand it," Berkman said. "You can't afford to let a guy get his feet wet in a pennant race. As a competitor, you obviously want to be out there and a part of things, but I don't hold a grudge. It's the circumstances of a pennant race."

Short hops: Left-hander Matt Harrison underwent Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery on his right side Monday. Harrison, who had the surgery on his left side in 2009 -- in addition to two back surgeries this year -- is expected to be ready for spring training. … The Rangers are 25-14 in one-run games entering Monday, with nine wins in their past 13 of that kind.