Roy Oswalt tosses two scoreless

ROUND ROCK, Texas -- Roy Oswalt took his first step toward joining the Texas Rangers' rotation in the minor league town where he first pitched 12 years ago.

Oswalt, the 10-year major league veteran who signed with the Rangers this week, threw two scoreless innings Saturday evening for the Triple-A Round Rock Express. He threw 34 pitches against the Albuquerque Isotopes -- six shy of his pitch limit -- and another 30 pitches in the bullpen after being lifted from the game.

The 34-year-old right-hander allowed three soft singles and a walk against the Los Angeles Dodgers' Triple-A club. He pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the first inning, striking out the cleanup hitter on three pitches and inducing a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.

"Probably wasn't the best, but that was about where I want to be at as far as velocity and stamina," Oswalt said of his outing. "I felt pretty well. I think I could've went 2-3 innings more."

Oswalt said his arm "feels great." He reported that he isn't experiencing any pain in his lower back, which caused him to make two trips to the disabled list while pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies last season.

Oswalt's first eight fastballs were in the mid-80s. His fastballs for the rest of the outing were consistently clocked in the low 90s, and he topped out at 94 mph on the third strike to cleanup hitter Jeff Baisley.

"Figure as I keep going, I'm only one or two clicks off from where I usually throw," said Oswalt, who threw 20 strikes among his 34 pitches and was pleased with his changeup with one exception. "I usually throw around 93 mph, so getting pretty close."

Oswalt, who has a 159-93 record with a 3.21 ERA in his big league career, plans to join the Rangers' rotation by late June. He signed a contract for the remainder of the season that guarantees him $4 million with incentives for another $1 million based on the number of starts, according to sources.

Oswalt, who will travel to Arlington for bullpen sessions between minor league starts, hopes to persuade Rangers' management and the coaching staff to be more aggressive with his pitch limits during his tenure in Round Rock. He is scheduled to throw 50 pitches in his next start.

"I'm going to talk to them and see if I can get it pushed up a little bit more," Oswalt said. "Threw 60 tonight counting the bullpen, so maybe 60-65 next start. That'd push me to 85 the next start and then maybe 105 the next one."

The Rangers maintained contact and monitored Oswalt, whose relationship with team president and CEO Nolan Ryan dates to his first stint in Round Rock, since the offseason. The Rangers didn't have room for Oswalt in the rotation at the beginning of the season, but Texas signed him soon after fifth starter Neftali Feliz went on the disabled list with a strained ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.

Oswalt said he had offers for more money from two or three other teams, but he signed with the Rangers because of his relationship with Ryan and desire to win a World Series title.

"I'm excited about getting started back," Oswalt said. "Hopefully, I may be that key that pushes them over that last game in the World Series. And that's what I'm here to do, to help out any way I can."