ARLINGTON -- Derek Holland is close to beginning a medical rehabilitation assignment and is only waiting clearance from the Rangers.
Holland, who had surgery on his left knee in January, pitched three innings in a simulated game in Arizona on Thursday against hitters that included Jurickson Profar. The hitters were instructed to drop three bunts per inning to test Holland's agility and ability to field his position.
"I fielded bunts, did everything," Holland said. "I thought it went great, I feel like I've improved big-time. Now it's up to [the Rangers] to decide what's next."
Holland has been able to keep his arm going strong while going through rehabilitation so he could come quickly once the knee is sound. But he will still likely need at least three or four starts on rehab assignment before he is ready to return to the rotation.
"My arm felt great," Holland said. "I was able to command my fastball, my slider looked great, my changeup was great. My curve was bad, but that's my worst pitch."
Holland is scheduled to throw a bullpen for pitching coach Mike Maddux and bullpen coach Andy Hawkins on Saturday. The Rangers will decide what's next for Holland after that session.
"I want to do whatever it takes," Holland said. "These guys have been going through a lot and it all started with me. I'm biting the bullet, you guys have no idea. … I want to be out there so bad."
Harrison going through difficult times
ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison said he knew he might have more problems when he went through two surgeries to repair a herniated disc in his lower back last season. His worst fears came to pass this week, when he was diagnosed with a displaced vertebra, which is causing severe nerve irritation in his lower back.
Harrison is now trying to decide if he will attempt to pitch through the problem or have spinal fusion surgery and correct the problem. The challenge is that the odds do not favor full recovery from fusion surgery.
"I'm willing to give it a try but right now I'm just still trying to wrap my head around what's going on at this point in time and trying not to let it sink in that it may have been my last game," Harrison said. "I'm just trying to stay positive as much as I can and take it day to day and then find out what I really want to do.
"But I can't obviously go out there and pitch the way I was last time with this stuff going on. My back's still hurting from the other day and I'm having some pain now down my leg and a lot of weakness there. So obviously it's not something that I can pitch with right now. "
Harrison was examined by Dr. Drew Dossett earlier this week and is waiting confirmation on the diagnosis from Dr. Robert Watkins, another back specialist.
"I'm going to have a few days here when they go on the road to sit down and actually talk about it more with my wife and the rest of my family and see what they think about it and go from there. It's just a tough situation. I hate it, I'd give every dollar back just to be the way I was in 2012 again. It's just tough to swallow the way things have gone this past year and a half and things that are happening right now."
Rangers juggle rotation in wake of injuries
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have re-adjusted their rotation and are planning to have left-hander Robbie Ross Jr. and right-hander Nick Martinez pitch against the Blue Jays on Saturday and Sunday. They'll follow Yu Darvish, who led off the three-game series on Friday night.
Colby Lewis was supposed to pitch against the Blue Jays but will wait until Tuesday and face the Mariners. Nick Tepesch is scheduled to pitch on Wednesday. Martinez, who is replacing Matt Harrison in the rotation, will be making his first start since April 22. He has been used out of the bullpen since then.
Manager Ron Washington said that is one of the reasons the Rangers adjusted their rotation. The Rangers are off on Monday and that would give the bullpen a chance to recover if Martinez has a short outing on Sunday.
The switch also means that Lewis will likely have to pitch against the Nationals later this month. Washington originally had Lewis missing that series so he wouldn't have to hit in the National League park. He'll likely end up pitching there unless weather problems dictate otherwise.
"I might tell him not to take the bat off his shoulder," Washington said. "I'll make him bunt every chance I get."
McConaughey gives back through Rangers
ARLINGTON -- Five years ago, award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey told himself it was time to re-adjust. Something had to give. Gone would be his music label, and production duties would follow quickly behind. Three things, he told himself, were about to capture his full attention.
"I'm going to be a father. I'm going to run my foundation. And I'm going to be an actor for hire," he said. "Those three things -- that fills up my time."
On Friday, the Oscar winner made a trip to the Texas Rangers Youth Ballpark to fulfill the second of those three activities as the founder of the just keep livin foundation.
McConaughey started the organization three years ago and partners with the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation to promote healthy lifestyles for students in participating schools both locally and nationally. The foundation emphasizes exercise, goal setting and community service.
"It's pretty amazing about how excited they are about waking up at 4:30 on a Saturday morning to pack up stuff to send stuff to troops overseas," McConaughey said. "They want the challenge. They want to be held sort of responsible for having to give back. A lot of these young men and women didn't have the upbringing -- don't have the upbringing that say I had. [They] don't have the mother or the father or the mentors. So we're giving them a place to get that. And it's a safe place."
• Joe Saunders, on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his left ankle, threw 97 pitches over five innings in his rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday against Iowa. He allowed two runs on seven hits and three walks with seven strikeouts. Saunders is still working on some mechanical issues and will likely get at least two more starts.
• The Rangers have signed pitcher Chris Schwinden to a Minor League contract and assigned him to Triple-A Round Rock. He was 3-0 with a 1.95 ERA in four starts with Lancaster in the Independent Atlantic League after getting released by the Mets in Spring Training.
• The Rangers now have 13 players on the disabled list. That's five more than the Angels, who have the second most. The Rangers have used the disabled list 16 times, four more than any other team.
• The Rangers have not yet met with pitcher Martin Perez or his agent to discuss the possibility of undergoing Tommy John surgery. The two parties are expected to meet on Saturday because of some delays in travel.
• Joey Gallo was 4-for-4 with three home runs and five RBIs for Class A Myrtle Beach against Potomac. He now has 17 home runs to lead all the Minor Leagues.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.