ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison reported some improvement in his sore back Tuesday, but he will likely miss his next start against the Mariners on Thursday. The Rangers have not made a final decision, but they are strongly leaning toward having Harrison miss at least one start.
"The last thing we want to do is compromise his arm by having him fight through it," general manager Jon Daniels said before Tuesday's game with the Rays. "Our responsibility is to make the right call for the long haul."
The Rangers have two options. They can put Harrison on the disabled list retroactive to April 6 and call up Justin Grimm from Triple-A to fill his spot in the rotation. If the Rangers do that, Harrison would be eligible to come off the disabled list on April 22. If that were the case, he would miss just two starts.
The other option would be to not make a roster move, bring Derek Lowe out of the bullpen to start on Thursday and have Harrison miss just one start.
"We've got a little time," Daniels said. "We'll take it day by day and then made a decision."
Harrison has been bothered by the problem for 2-3 weeks. He has been quietly trying to pitch through it but has not been successful. He is 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA in his first two starts while struggling to get his pitches -- especially his sinker -- down in the strike zone.
Harrison said he's not dealing with significant pain in his back; it's mostly stiffness that's causing some weakness in his left leg.
"As pitchers, we want to be out there every five days," Harrison said. "But if I'm making myself worse or hurting the team, it's not worth it."
Rangers designate Borbon for assignment
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers designated outfielder Julio Borbon for assignment on Tuesday to make room for pitcher Nick Tepesch on the roster. The Rangers have 10 days to trade, release or put Borbon through outright waivers.
General manager Jon Daniels said the club will try to trade Borbon to another Major League team that needs outfield help.
"I think he's better than a lot of guys out there," Daniels said. "We had teams in Spring Training that checked on him, but we weren't in any rush. He's a big leaguer, we just don't have a spot for him at this time. But he belongs in the big leagues, it just depends on the interest and how other teams value him. We'd like to get a good return on him and find the right place for him."
Borbon made the Opening Day roster as an extra outfielder because the Rangers didn't need to put Tepesch on the roster until Tuesday. Tepesch made the rotation as a non-roster player in Spring Training, and Tuesday was the first time the Rangers needed a fifth starter.
Borbon, who played in just one game, did not play in the big leagues last year. But he played in 215 games for the Rangers in 2009-11 and has a career batting average of .283, with a .324 on-base percentage and a .358 slugging percentage. He also has 40 career stolen bases.
There is still a possibility that Borbon could clear outright waivers and be assigned to Triple-A Round Rock. The Rangers got Nelson Cruz through outright waivers at the beginning of the 2008 season and Marlon Byrd in '07. Both ended up at Triple-A before working their way back to the big leagues to enjoy productive careers.
"We hope we don't get to that point for Julio's sake," Daniels said. "He deserves the right to play at the big league level."
Maddon shows support for Nathan's milestone
ARLINGTON -- Rays manager Joe Maddon wasn't happy with the way Monday's game ended. But he still sent over the Rays lineup card to Rangers closer Joe Nathan as a memento. Maddon wanted to congratulate Nathan on earning his 300th save.
Maddon wrote on it: "Congrats. Outstanding career. Keep it going." He also signed it.
"It was nice," Nathan said. "Even though they were not too excited at the call at the end, it was nice for him to send it over and sign it."
Nathan saved the Rangers' 5-4 victory over the Rays on Monday by striking out Ben Zobrist in the ninth to end the game. Tampa Bay had a runner at first with two outs and Evan Longoria on deck when Zobrist was called out on a full-count slider that appeared outside the strike zone. Home-plate umpire Marty Foster admitted later he missed the call.
"It's part of the game," Nathan said. "There will be a time when things go against us. These things have a way of evening out. We're not looking at it as a huge break."
Nathan stopped by the Rays' dugout to thank Maddon for the gesture. But Maddon wasn't the only one to reach out to Nathan and congratulate him on becoming the 24th reliever in Major League history to reach 300 saves.
"I've received a pretty good number of texts from high school coaches, college coaches, guys I played with in the Minor Leagues, guys I haven't talked to in a long time," Nathan said. "It was nice to catch up."
Prospect Matthews to throw extended spring game
ARLINGTON -- Kevin Matthews, the 33rd overall pick in the 20011 First-Year Player Draft, is scheduled to pitch in an extended spring training game this week. It will be a significant step for the left-hander.
Matthews has been dealing with an impingement in his left shoulder since the beginning of Spring Training and has been about three weeks behind the other Minor League pitchers. The Rangers are building Matthews back up in the hopes of getting him back to Class A Hickory.
The 20-year-old was 3-4 with a 4.38 ERA in 15 starts and four relief appearances for Hickory last season. He is one of several key pitchers who are still in extended spring training in Arizona.
Left-hander Martin Perez, who has been sidelined for a month because of a broken left arm, threw long toss on Tuesday and could throw in the bullpen on Thursday. He is probably a month away from being back to full strength and endurance.
Colby Lewis and Joakim Soria, who are in the final stages of recovery from elbow surgery, both continue to throw live batting practice. Lewis had a 26-pitch session on Tuesday, and Soria threw 28 pitches.
• The Rangers promoted pitcher Ross Wolf from Double-A Frisco to Triple-A Round Rock.
• Pitcher Alexi Ogando has a 1.11 WHIP in his 32 career Major League starts. That's the seventh best among starters with a minimum of 30 starts since the beginning of the 2011 season. Clayton Kershaw has the lowest, at 0.98.
• Manager Ron Washington said Yu Darvish is "progressing very nicely" and is expected to start on Friday against the Mariners. Darvish has been dealing with a blister on his right ring finger.
• A.J. Pierzynski's home run in the fourth inning on Monday was the first hit left-handed by a Rangers catcher since Jarrod Saltalamacchia on Aug. 2, 2009. Mitch Moreland followed that with a home run, marking the first time that Rangers left-handed hitters hit back-to-back home runs since Josh Hamilton and Hank Blalock on Aug. 7, 2009.
• Josh Lindblom started for Round Rock on Tuesday. Lindblom, acquired from the Phillies in the Michael Young trade, has never started in the Majors, but the Rangers are going to give him a chance to start in Triple-A, something he hasn't done since 2010 in the Dodgers' system. The Rangers are also hoping the extra work will help him smooth out some of the mechanical issues he was dealing with in Spring Training.
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.