Roy Oswalt to start in minors

New Texas Rangers pitcher Roy Oswalt said he's thrown bullpen sessions every other day for the past six weeks and believes he can be ready to join the big league rotation after about four starts.

Oswalt's first start at Triple-A Round Rock, a place he knows well from his days in the Houston Astros' minor league system, is slated for Saturday.

"My arm feels great, my body feels great," Oswalt said during a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon. "I think we'll go out and try to have a 50- or 60-pitch count that first game and I'm hoping after about four starts to be ready to join the team."

Oswalt, 34, said his back feels good and that others "have worse cases than I have."

"I know my body. I know where I'm at," Oswalt said. "I feel as healthy as ever."

Oswalt said his relationship with Rangers CEO and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, pitching coach Mike Maddux and bench coach Jackie Moore, who were with Oswalt in Double-A and helped mold him into a big league pitcher, were a big reason he wanted to play in Texas.

"A lot of it was Nolan," Oswalt said. "I have a lot of respect for Nolan and watched him growing up. He was an idol of mine. To get a guy like that to stand behind you and put a stamp on you means a lot as a player."

Oswalt mentioned the Los Angeles Dodgers were in the picture, along with some other teams, but that he wanted to pitch in the Lone Star State.

"I love Texas," Oswalt said. "I got to play there for 9½ years with the Astros. I love the state of Texas. It reminds me of Mississippi. It's a great place."

Oswalt said the biggest thing that stood out about the Rangers was the deep lineup.

"A lot of times you have a lot of the same hitters in a lineup, but the Rangers have great power from one to nine and guys that can put a bat on the ball," Oswalt said. "There's not a lot of striking out. They get it done. They move guys over and can go the other way."

Oswalt is not concerned about making the adjustment to the American League, where he's never pitched. He doesn't plan on altering his approach just because the pitcher isn't hitting anymore.

"It's not like you change pitchers because that one batter comes up more," Oswalt said. "You're still going to pitch your ballgame and pitch to your strengths. If you've got your stuff, he's got to hit you."

Oswalt said he talked to former Ranger Cliff Lee about the Texas clubhouse and the camaraderie on the team. And Oswalt feels comfortable with the coaching staff, saying Maddux and Moore made him better.

"I give Mike Maddux credit for getting me deeper into games," Oswalt said. "I was striking out 12 and going six innings to prove a point rather than throwing nine innings. Jackie Moore was the manager [in Double-A]. He always handed me the ball. It didn't matter the situation."