ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tommy Hunter certainly didn't expect to be entering Saturday's game in the first inning. He was activated Friday with the idea that he could be a late-inning power arm or a guy that could give the club a few innings.
But with Derek Holland unable to get out of the first and Michael Kirkman and Dave Bush no longer on the active roster, Hunter had to step in and be the long man. He did the job admirably, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits in 4 2/3 innings. He got the game to the sixth inning, helping save part of the bullpen.
"It shows I've got to be ready to do whatever they need," Hunter said. "I'm ready for anything. I went from setup man to middle relief to long man. I want to help this club however I can."
Hunter's 2011 debut comes three months later than expected. He was in the starting rotation until a groin strain in the final week of spring training altered the club's plans. Alexi Ogando shifted to the rotation and the Rangers have tried to fill his eighth-inning setup void ever since. Ironically, Hunter's higher velocity in the minors made the club eager to see if he could handle that spot. But circumstances postponed that attempt Saturday. We'll see if it changes the short- or long-term plans for Hunter now.
He said the groin feels fine and his mechanics and delivery fell into place in the minors. No matter what his role, Hunter seems to be pitching with confidence, and Washington expects it to boost the bullpen.
"Tommy Hunter did a good job," Washington said. "It was big [that he pitched those innings]. It was huge. We certainly needed it. He gave us an opportunity to not stretch anyone else out."