By STEPHEN HAWKINS, Associated Press
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Texas Rangers agreed to a minor league deal with free-agent pitcher Roy Oswalt with the anticipation that he will join the rotation within a few weeks.
Assuming Oswalt passes a physical, he is expected to join Triple-A Round Rock at some point this week.
The deal was announced in the middle of the Rangers' game Tuesday night against Seattle.
The three-time All-Star was interested in joining the two-time defending American League champions during the offseason, but the Rangers were then set with their starting rotation.
The Rangers signed Japanese star Yu Darvish in January, a month after C.J. Wilson left in free agency. Plus, the Rangers had already decided to move hard-throwing closer Neftali Feliz from the bullpen into the starting rotation.
But Feliz was put on the 15-day disabled list May 21 with right elbow inflammation and is not even expected to pick up a baseball again until late June. Scott Feldman, a 17-game winner as a starter in 2009 but who has since been primarily a long reliever because of an injury, made his second start in Feliz's spot Tuesday night.
Oswalt likely will make several minor league starts before joining the Texas rotation. Rangers officials went to Oswalt's home in Mississippi two weeks ago to watch him pitch.
Several teams had interest in Oswalt during the winter and in recent weeks. He had decided to wait until the right situation for him.
During his 10 seasons with the Houston Astros, Oswalt had connections with Ryan, the Hall of Famer pitcher who played and worked for both teams.
In 11 major league seasons with Houston (2001-10) and Philadelphia (2010-11), the 34-year-old Oswalt has a 159-93 record with a 3.21 ERA in 339 career games.
Oswalt had two stints on the disabled list last season because of lower back inflammation. He went 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts for the Phillies. His 139 innings pitched were his lowest total since 2003.
In eight career starts at Rangers Ballpark, Oswalt is 2-5 with a 4.78 ERA. He lost his last five starts there, but those were against the power-packed Texas lineup that would now be playing behind him.
Oswalt last pitched against the Rangers on June 27, 2010, a night when slugger Josh Hamilton hit a homer several rows into the upper deck in right-center field way above the Texas bullpen. The drive was measured at 490 feet, the longest home run ever hit at Rangers Ballpark.
Hamilton, talking before the team had confirmed the deal, said Oswalt is a good pitcher that would be a good mix with the Rangers.
"He's been around a long time, he's had a good career and obviously it's still going on," Hamilton said. "I'm sure just like anybody else, he'll come into the clubhouse and fit right in just like anybody else would. We'll make sure he does. It should be exciting."
The deal with Oswalt came on the same day the Phillies and AL West rival Los Angeles Angels put their ace pitchers on the disabled list.
The Phillies put two-time Cy Young winner Roy Halladay on the disabled list and he'll be out of the rotation for six to eight weeks because of a strained right shoulder. Angels starter Jered Weaver was put on the DL with a lower-back injury, likely forcing last season's AL Cy Young runner-up to miss at least two starts.