A.J. Griffin's long road back to the majors is expected to end in the same stadium where he made his most recent big league start.
The Texas Rangers right-hander is slated to make his first MLB appearance in three seasons Friday night against the Los Angeles Angels.
Griffin was optimistic after being sent down to Triple-A Round Rock on Sunday that he would return as the Rangers' No. 5 starter. Texas (1-3) will likely do just that before Friday's game and send down one of its eight relievers.
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"I'm just trying to get through the next few days and see what happens. It's part of the job. I just have to sit tight and just be ready to go whenever they ask me to," Griffin said Sunday. "I'm just being hopeful. I'm trying not to assume anything."
Griffin went 14-10 with a 3.83 ERA and a team-best 171 strikeouts in 200 innings for Oakland in 2013, his only full season in the majors. He ended that campaign with a 3-0 defeat in Anaheim on Sept. 24.
Griffin sat out all of 2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and was limited to four minor league starts last year. The Athletics released him in November and Texas signed him to a minor league deal the next month.
"He established himself as a workhorse for a division-winning rotation in the AL West. We're looking for him to bounce back to form," Rangers pro scouting director Josh Boyd told the team's official website. "He's shown an advanced feel to pitch with his secondary stuff in the past, showing good touch with his changeup and curveball."
Griffin will try to end the Rangers' worst start since 2007 and help them bounce back from a 4-3 loss in Thursday's opener to a four-game series. Albert Pujols gave Los Angeles its first victory of 2016 with a two-out, bases-loaded single in the ninth inning.
"I love that situation," said Pujols, who has 1,699 career RBIs and is three shy of Reggie Jackson for 23rd all-time. "It has happened for the 16 years I've been playing this game, and it's going to happen many times the rest of my career. The more at-bats you have, the more comfortable you are and the more you want it."
Matt Shoemaker will try to boost the Angels (1-2) to back-to-back wins while improving to 5-0 in as many starts against Texas, which is currently batting .156 with a .490 OPS.
The right-hander earned three of those victories in 2014 while going 16-4 with a 3.04 ERA and finishing second in the AL rookie of the year voting. He was 7-10 with a 4.42 ERA in his 24 starts last season, including 2-3 with a 6.39 ERA in his final five.
He had a 2.94 ERA in his last nine home starts, however, and pitched 12 scoreless innings there in his final two.
Shin-Soo Choo, 2 for 12 in the first four games, is 1 for 9 with five strikeouts lifetime against Shoemaker. Adrian Beltre is 4 for 11 versus the Angels starter.
Mike Trout has gone 3 for 15 with five strikeouts lifetime against Griffin, but two of those hits were home runs.
The Rangers haven't dropped four of their first five games since opening 1-5 in 2006.