ARLINGTON -- Designated hitter Lance Berkman could be close to playing first base if needed. Berkman has been used exclusively at DH because he is still recovering from two operations on his right knee last year. But with more playing time and warmer weather getting closer, Berkman could soon become an option if needed at first base.
"It's feeling pretty good," Berkman said. "I won't know until I get out there but at this point, you can say I'm almost to the point where I have my legs under me. From playing a lot of games and running the bases, that's the next logical step."
With Mitch Moreland, the Rangers don't need Berkman to play regularly at first base. But he would give them another option, especially when they play in National League cities and there is no designated hitter. The Rangers have one game against the Cubs on Monday in Chicago and then a two-game series against the Brewers in Milwaukee.
Berkman made a couple of appearances at first base in Spring Training but hasn't had much work there since the season started. Cold weather hasn't helped matters much.
"You'd like for him to get some repetitions," Washington said. "But you could put a patch over one of his eyes and he could still play first base."
Berkman has played 761 games at first base and 997 in the outfield during his 15-year career.
Second surgery pushes back Harrison's return
ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison underwent a second operation on Wednesday to address a herniated disc in his lower back, pushing back the timetable for his return to the mound. The Rangers still expect Harrison to pitch again this season, but it's not going to be until August or later.
Harrison underwent surgery on April 23 to repair the bulging disc and was doing fine for the first week afterward. But he started feeling more discomfort on Tuesday and underwent an MRI on Wednesday morning. The results showed more herniation in the disc, requiring a second surgery. Harrison told the Rangers on Wednesday he "felt great" after the surgery.
"Obviously the last time, he felt great for eight days," general manager Jon Daniels said. "Time will tell. Our expectations are the same as last time, but now it's seven or eight days later. I don't think [a second surgery] is that uncommon, but you would like for it to not happen."
Harrison is expected to be out for at least three months so his return will likely be some time in August at the earliest. Daniels said the Rangers are operating under the assumption that Harrison will pitch again this season.
"I'm hopeful," Daniels said. "We'll just have to play it by ear. That's his expectation. We've got to get him healthy. Once his back is healthy, we can start ramping him up and see what happens."
Right now, the Rangers are going with a rotation of Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm. The Rangers are also hopeful to get Colby Lewis back within the next 30-40 days.
Lewis, who had flexor tendon surgery on his right elbow on July 27, will make his second extended spring start on Saturday. He is scheduled to pitch two innings. After that, the Rangers will decide if Lewis needs to make another start in extended camp or is ready to go out on a 30-day rehabilitation assignment in the Minor Leagues.
Moreland having better results against lefties
ARLINGTON -- Mitch Moreland was in the Rangers' lineup on Wednesday with left-hander Chris Sale on the mound for the White Sox. The move was logical as Moreland has been hot lately against left-handed pitching.
Moreland achieved a career "milestone" when he had three hits against left-handers in the Rangers' 10-6 victory on Tuesday. It's the first time in his career Moreland had three hits in one game against left-handers.
Moreland has had just eight games in his career with two or more hits against left-handed pitchers. Three came in the last week of April, including a two-hit game against the Angels in Anaheim and another on Saturday in Minnesota.
"He's starting to have better swings against them, no doubt about it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "There are still some left-handed pitchers that will throw it and he'll miss by a mile. But he'll see some pitches from right-handers that he'll miss by a mile. I just want to see him up there and swing the bat."
Moreland's hot streak put him in the lineup over David Murphy. Jeff Baker started in left field for the second straight game, giving Washington an extra right-handed hitter against Sale. Washington said he expects Murphy to start on Thursday against White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy.
Moreland went 0-for-2 against Sale in the 5-2 loss. He walked and scored in the second inning.
Darvish named Rangers Player of the Month
ARLINGTON -- Pitcher Yu Darvish was named the Rangers Player of the Month for April by the local media. The American League Player and Pitcher of the Month will be announced in the next few days.
Darvish was 5-1 with a 2.33 ERA in six starts while striking out 58. It's the most strikeouts in April by a Major League pitcher since Montreal's Javier Vazquez struck out 58 in 2003. The last Rangers pitcher to strike out 58 batters in any month was Nolan Ryan in September of 1989.
The 58 strikeouts are also tied for the third most by an American League pitcher through the end of April. Roger Clemens struck out 60 for the Red Sox in 1988 and Ryan had 59 through April while with the Angels in 1978. Vida Blue also had 58 for the Athletics in April of 1971.
Darvish is the sixth Rangers pitcher to record five wins in April. The last to do so were Rick Helling and Aaron Sele in 1998.
• Catcher A.J. Pierzynski reported some improvement with a strained oblique muscle in his right rib cage but was out of the lineup for a second straight game. Pierzynski said he is hoping to be back in the lineup Thursday and play at least one game against his former team.
"I'm going to continue to get treatment all day," Pierzynski said. "It's better than yesterday. The color has gone down, which is good. I went through a full workout. We decided one more day is not going to kill anybody. There's nothing I can do. I'm obviously disappointed, I was hoping to get out there."
Geovany Soto was behind the plate for a second straight game, giving the Rangers another right-handed bat against left-hander Chris Sale.
Pierzynski pinch-hit with two outs in the ninth of Wednesday's 5-2 loss and was hit by a pitch.
• Jeff Baker has started two straight games in left field but is still dealing with a bruised right knee. That's why manager Ron Washington used David Murphy as a defensive replacement in Tuesday's 10-6 win.
• The Rangers are still waiting on the result of infielder Mike Olt's eye examination. He remains sidelined at Triple-A Round Rock after reporting some vision problems.
• The Rangers have placed outfielder Joey Butler and pitcher Collin Balestar on the disabled list at Round Rock. To reinforce the Express, the Rangers promoted pitcher Jake Brigham and Ryan Feierabend and infielder Alex Buchholz from Double-A Frisco.
• Pitchers Arlett Mavare and Phil Klein were promoted from Class A Myrtle Beach to Frisco. Pitchers Francisco Mendoza and Paul Schwendel were added to the Myrtle Beach roster from extended spring camp.
• Wednesday marked the 22nd anniversary of Nolan Ryan's seventh career no-hitter, pitched against the Blue Jays on May 1, 1991, at Arlington Stadium.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.