Buzz: Rehabbing Lewis tops out at 89 mph

HOUSTON -- Colby Lewis topped out at 89 mph with his fastball in his first rehab start Thursday night for Triple-A Round Rock in Vegas.

That's a tick or two below last year's average velocity of 90-91 mph. The veteran right-hander pitched two innings, throwing 41 pitches, then threw to three more batters in a bullpen session. Lewis averaged 87 mph with his fastball.

He allowed three runs in two innings and had two strikeouts, two walks and a wild pitch. All of the runs scored by Las Vegas came in the second inning.

"I teetered off a little bit in the second inning," Lewis said. "I think I just need to continue to go out there and build my pitch count up, but my stuff was good. I threw a little more (11 pitches) in the bullpen just to push my body, but nothing crazy."

Lewis expects to pitch Tuesday for Triple-A Round Rock at Tuscon. The goal is to throw 55-60 pitches and four innings.

"That's what it's about, getting up and down," Lewis said. "That's the challenge to get your body used to getting cold then getting hot like you would in a game. After that, I'm not looking too far ahead, it'll depend on how I feel on Tuesday. But Frisco is in town May 19, so I might throw five innings, then we'll see where the team wants me."

Rangers manager Ron Washington was pleased with the reports on where Lewis' fastball is sitting velocity-wise.

"If he continues to spot the ball the way he's capable of spotting it, the velocity will pick up," Washington said. "He'll get outs the way he usually gets outs. The more he goes out there the velocity will go up. We're not looking at 94-95 mph."

Soto ready for regularity: Catcher Geovany Soto said Friday's he's ready for regular playing time with starter A.J. Pierzynski out at least 10 more days with a strained right oblique muscle.

Playing most days should help at the plate and also help Soto get a better feel for the pitching staff. Soto is batting .212 with one RBI for the season. The Rangers pitchers have a 4.14 ERA when he catches.

"I feel obviously the more repetitions and more pitches you see, the better you’re probably going to be just to help the ballclub win," Soto said.

Chirinos won't catch Darvish: Robinson Chirinos' first start with the Rangers will not come Saturday catching Yu Darvish, whose vast array of pitches take some time getting used to for even the most veteran of catchers. So that task will fall to Soto.

But Chirinos' first start as a Ranger could come in Sunday's day game catching rookie Nick Tepesch.

"Certainly he's out on Darvish," Washington said. "He's not out on anyone else."

Chirinos' biggest hurdle with his new team is getting to know the Rangers' pitchers. Chirinos came to the Rangers in a trade with Tampa Bay on March 31, so he wasn't with the club in spring training.

"He'll be in the initial meeting on how we'll attack hitters," Washington said. "Whenever he catches, we'll have to take over the ballgame if he does something other than what we want to do. In the meantime, we just have to get him acclimated."

Pierzynski time table: The Rangers are hopeful that catcher Pierzynski will be ready to play by the end of his 15-day disabled list stint, which started Monday (so he's already five days into his DL time).

Pierzynski is in Houston and received treatment before Friday's game.

"As long as he doesn't have to go up there (to the plate) aggravating it, it will probably get better," Washington said. "He really wanted to play through it because he's done it before. We hope the 11 days helps."

Umpire turmoil: Washington said he didn't see Thursday night's pitching change debacle in the Astros-Los Angeles Angels game in which Houston's rookie manager Bo Porter was allowed to change relievers in the seventh inning.

Angels manager Mike Scoiscia correctly argued that Houston's Wesley Wright didn't pitch to at least one batter, so Porter shouldn't have been allowed to make a change to Hector Ambriz. He was allowed to stay in the game and pitch his way out of the inning.

On Friday, Major League Baseball suspended umpire Fieldin Culbreth two games and fined him an unspecified amount for the mistake.

Washington said a manager can make a mistake from time to time.

"Sometimes you get caught up in the game and sometimes you do things, many a manager have tried to make a move and the umpires tell them you can do that," Washington said. "It happens. (Bo) did it yesterday and he got away with it."