Texas Rangers: 2013 Spring Training



Nolan Ryan, bundled up in very chilly conditions, watched his Texas Rangers team fall 2-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday afternoon. The good news: Ryan will be sitting in his customary aisle seat closest to the Rangers dugout entrance for the rest of the season and, hopefully, beyond.

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Fitzsimmons & Durrett discuss Nolan Ryan's statement that he is staying with the Rangers. It's good news, but will Ryan stay with the club for the long haul?

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The legendary Hall of Famer, who has twice helped save this franchise, is remaining with the organization, the club announced Wednesday evening. That's terrific news and a huge relief for president of baseball operations Jon Daniels, the entire Rangers front office and fans. Ryan has been the face of this club. He's been an important asset in helping vault this organization into that elite group of clubs that are annual contenders. The idea of Ryan not being a part of the Rangers -- something that looked very possible over the past six weeks -- just wasn't something anyone, including Major League Baseball, wanted to contemplate.

At this point, I don't know what swayed Ryan. His statement talks only about "productive discussions the last several weeks with Ray Davis and Bob Simpson about the structure of our organization," so let's start with those two primary owners. The co-chairmen of the board had to find a way to keep Ryan in the fold and they've managed to do it.

[+] EnlargeNolan Ryan
Jake Roth/US PresswireCEO Nolan Ryan is staying with the Rangers after all -- and that's a good thing.
Shortly after the release six weeks ago that announced promotions for Daniels and Rick George (the COO who is now president of business operations), Ryan was left uncertain of his CEO role and what kind of power he actually had. Bob Simpson convinced Ryan to fly back to Fort Worth a week later and they had dinner at Del Frisco's, Ryan's favorite steakhouse in the area. That pitch wasn't enough to get Ryan to stay at that point. But it was a start. Apparently, the discussions continued. But it sure appeared that Ryan was likely to leave after filling some commitments at the end of March and in early April surrounding the start of the season. The benefit to those commitments is that it gave ownership some more time to talk to Ryan and reach some kind of resolution.

Thank goodness. I'll be honest: I thought Ryan was headed out of Arlington. Maybe back to his ranch. No, I didn't think he'd go to the Houston Astros, though anything was possible. We heard rumblings that MLB was going to try to find someplace for Ryan, unhappy with the idea that he wasn't going to be a Ranger.

It sure seemed like ownership had taken Ryan's job description and split it between Daniels and COO Rick George, leaving Ryan with a title but (it appeared) not much power. I wasn't sure there was a way to persuade Ryan that he still had a vital role in the organization after that restructuring, even though he retained the CEO title. It seemed like he was being shoved aside, and I wasn't sure the situation could get repaired.

But Simpson and Davis (and maybe others) got the job done and Ryan is staying. Good for Ryan and good for the Rangers. Once Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM personality Randy Galloway's reports came out about Ryan's unhappiness with the situation, the onus fell on ownership to do something -- now -- to keep Ryan with the club. And they did it.

As for the reason for the initial moves, it appears it was to keep Daniels and his young and talented front-office staff in place as long as possible. And that's certainly a smart move. Daniels has done a terrific job of building a contending club through a renewed emphasis on the farm system, scouting, drafting and critical trades. But in the process of trying to keep that group intact, ownership nearly created a PR nightmare with Ryan possibly leaving the club. Now, Ryan is staying and the structure is set up so that Daniels could shed his general manager title to Thad Levine at some point, if that would help keep Levine (and maybe other key personnel such as Don Welke, A.J. Preller, Josh Boyd, Mike Daly, Kip Fagg, Jake Krug, Matt Vinnola ... and I could go on) in place for as long as possible. In other words, ownership has set up a line of succession and has kept Ryan in place. That's important.

I know the old school-versus-new school folks have clashed at times. That's to be expected with their backgrounds and different views. But that's not a bad thing, either. Having both sides and both perspectives -- Ryan's experience and eye for pitching and Daniels' understanding of personnel and shrewd trades -- have led the club to success never seen in franchise history. Daniels, with a rebuilt farm system, the Mark Teixeira and Josh Hamilton trades and the hiring of manager Ron Washington, helped put the club on a path to the AL championship in 2010 and 2011. Ryan's patience when he was put in charge in 2008 with a group that he didn't hire helped them to grow through tough times. He changed the pitching attitude of the organization and was instrumental in bringing Mike Maddux and Jackie Moore to the coaching staff. And, of course, he joined the ownership group that has been willing in the past few seasons to spend money and supplement the great scouting work done by the staff with key free agents. Both Daniels and Ryan, despite their differences, made critical decisions that led to success. It's nice to have that combination around a little longer.

Take a big breath, Rangers fans. Ryan is still here. That's good news.

Richard Durrett co-hosts with Ian Fitzsimmons on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each weekday.

Craig Gentry makes impression on Washington

March, 29, 2013
3/29/13
8:00
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Craig Gentry won't make Texas Rangers fans forget about Josh Hamilton. But the center fielder has made quite an impression on his manager.

Manager Ron Washington was brutally honest Thursday when asked about Gentry, telling reporters that he has been surprised, maybe even stunned, by the strides the 29-year old has made this spring.

Gentry opens the season sharing center field with Cuban rookie Leonys Martin, who has made his own splash this spring, batting .350 with 12 RBIs. Gentry is likely to get the starting nod in Sunday's opener in Houston -- the right-handed hitter was in the starting lineup against Mexico City Rojas Diablos righty David Reyes.

Gentry had two more hits Thursday, both of them off right-handed relievers. He raised his spring average to .356. The Rangers already knew he could run and play center field. He has added offense, at least this spring.

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ESPN Insider and MLB lead analyst Buster Olney joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the Rangers, their X factors and the landscape of the AL West.

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"Gentry has improved tremendously," Washington said. "I didn't think he could. I didn't think he could be an every day guy. He's worked hard. He's learned how to get through the baseball. He's always been patient at the plate. We know he can play defense. He won't back down."

Washington said he won't decide until Saturday who will start in center field against the Astros. The manager endorsed both players, praising them for the way they've fought.

"Gentry deserves playing time," Washington said. "Martin deserves playing time."

Yu Darvish relaxed, in command of his pitches

March, 28, 2013
3/28/13
11:46
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- As if there was any doubt that Yu Darvish was ready for the regular season.

The Rangers' ace saved his best spring start for last, commanding the strike zone with marksmanship in Thursday's 12-1 victory over the Mexico City Rojas Diablos in an exhibition game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

[+] EnlargeYu Darvish
Jim Cowsert/USA TODAY SportsYu Darvish allowed only three runs this spring.
Darvish dazzled the home fans by pounding the strike zone. He threw 52 pitches, 42 of them for strikes. He allowed one hit, a single by Red Devils shortstop Jesus Lopez to lead off the fourth inning.

Darvish pitched well in Arizona, allowing three runs in 13 ⅔ innings. He was even better Thursday in Arlington. Even he said he could feel it.

"I felt very good throwing today compared to what I did in Arizona," Darvish said through an interpreter. "Compared to last year, where I am right now, I feel very relaxed. I’m glad I was able to do that, to pitch here, before the season started.”

Darvish had seven strikeouts, including three in the second inning, two of them on fastballs and one on a slider. He had two strikeouts in the fourth inning, both on sliders. He also had a good cutter and changeup, pitches Darvish wanted to work on in this final spring start, according to catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

“The pitching sequence I used in the game was pretty much similar to what I’ll be using in the regular season," Darvish said. "I felt really comfortable out there today. And I had really good control.”

Rangers manager Ron Washington said after Thursday's game that Darvish's spring has been all about relaxation and understanding what it takes to pitch in the major leagues. He's leaving the bullpen knowing which pitches he has command of, instead of trying to throw everything in his arsenal.

“His spring is about as good as his finish last year at the end of the season," Washington said. "He threw the ball well. He went out there and used the pitches that he felt worked for him that day. And he was consistent in doing just that."

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 12, Rojos Diablos 1

March, 28, 2013
3/28/13
10:17
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers (16-6-2) had four home runs and 19 hits in their first game of the season at their home ballpark, pounding the Mexico City Rojas Diablos, 12-1, in an exhibition game before 29,972 fans in Arlington.

Darvish dominates: Fifty-two pitches, 42 strikes. 52, 42. Repeat that a few times. Darvish, who has been in complete command all spring, left Triple-A Mexico City at a complete loss, with seven strikeouts in four innings. Darvish allowed a leadoff single in the fourth inning, and that was it.

He got strikeouts on fastballs and sliders. He didn't walk anyone, leaving him with three walks in 17 2/3 innings. Not that Darvish had to convince anyone he can pitch, but this spring performance was exactly what the Rangers wanted to see from their ace.

Power surge: The new Capital One Club at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington did nothing to alter the stadium's reputation as a home run haven, as Ranger hitters hammered four home runs against the Red Devils' pitching, all with runners on base.

Ian Kinsler opened up the slugfest with a two-run home run to left field in the second inning. David Murphy had a two-run homer in the third to right field. Nelson Cruz launched another two-run homer to center field in the fifth, the first of two Rangers long balls in the inning. Mitch Moreland had the hardest hit ball of the night, smoking a three-run home run to right field.

Murphy's Law: Murphy hit his third home run of the spring, showing the home fans he's ready to be an everyday player. Murphy had two more hits Thursday, raising his batting average to .340 in his past 18 games.

Berkman executes: Lance Berkman helped the Rangers score in the opening inning, executing a hit-and-run with Elvis Andrus on first base after being hit by a pitch. Berkman lined a single into right field, his ninth hit in 21 at-bats.

Broussard vs. Ortiz: Rangers reliever Joe Ortiz found out he made the opening day roster before Thursday's game, and came out with a fury, retiring the first two batters he faced in the top of the seventh. But Ben Broussard, once thought to be the Rangers' solution at first base, belted a home run to right field. Ortiz has allowed two runs this spring, both on home runs.

Final roster spot: Two of three Rangers fighting for the final opening day roster spot had a successful night. Outfielder Julio Borbon had a double in his only at-bat. RHP Cory Burns worked a scoreless sixth inning. RHP Josh Lindblom had a perfect ninth inning.

What's next? The Rangers play the first of two exhibition games on Friday and Saturday against the San Diego Padres as part of the 2013 H-E-B Big League Weekend at the Alamodome. RHP Alexi Ogando (2-1, 2-95 ERA) will start Friday's 7:05 p.m. game for the Rangers. LHP Eric Stults (2-2, 6.63) will start for the Padres. The game will be televised on Ch. 21 and broadcast on ESPN 103.3-FM.

Saturday's game at the Alamodome starts at 1:05 p.m. LHP Derek Holland (1-1, 2.77 ERA) starts for the Rangers. RHP Jason Marquis (1-0, 2.00 ERA) goes for the Padres.

Rapid Reaction: Angels 6, Rangers 3

March, 27, 2013
3/27/13
5:45
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Texas Rangers (15-16-2) saw their losing streak extend to three games after dropping a 6-3 decision to the Los Angeles Angels (9-18-4) on Wednesday at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

What it means: Texas dropped below .500 and lost three in a row (not counting split-squad games) for the first time since Feb. 25-27.

Rotation rounds out: Manager Ron Washington announced after Wednesday's game that Alexi Ogando is his No. 3 starter and Derek Holland is the No. 4. Holland will start the home opener April 5 against the Angels, but Washington said that did not play into his decision at all.

Mills thrills: Newcomer Brad Mills pitched well in his Rangers debut, allowing one run on four hits with one walk and one strikeout in four innings against his former team. The left-hander was added Sunday as a waiver claim from the Angels.

Life after Hamilton: Washington had a good quote today when asked about the Rangers' future without Josh Hamilton, who left the team as a free agent during the offseason.

"Reggie Jackson left the New York Yankees, and they went on to win a World Series. Roger Clemens left Boston, and they went on to win a World Series," Washington said. "Hamilton is in Jackson's class for what he did for us and with what Clemens did for the Red Sox. This [Hamilton's departure] doesn't stop what we have to do between the lines."

Tepesch outing: Fifth starter Nick Tepesch pitched well in a minor league game for Round Rock (Triple-A) against Tucson (Padres Triple-A) today in Surprise. In six innings, Tepesch allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits with one walk and five strikeouts, and threw 92 pitches. He gave up a home run to lead off the game; the other run scored after an error in the second inning. Tepesch handled being named the Rangers' fifth starter with the same poise he showed all spring. "It feels good, but I've still got a lot of hard work ahead of me," Tepesch said. "I still have a couple more starts to do my thing. It's just the beginning of the hard work. I've got to keep after it."

Speed threat: A.J. Pierzynski put up a good outing in his final Arizona spring game of 2013 by going 2-for-2 with a single and double. He added a stolen base, which is a rarity for the catcher. During his 15-year MLB career (12 full seasons), Pierzynski has 13 career stolen bases. His last one came during the 2010 season when he tied a career high with three.

Rule 5 updates: RHP Coty Woods, whom the Rangers acquired in the Rule 5 draft Dec. 6, was returned to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday. Texas had a 72-hour window beginning Tuesday to work out a trade with Colorado to keep him but couldn't get a deal done. Woods owned a 2.61 ERA (3 ER in 10 1/3 IP) with 10 strikeouts in 10 relief appearances.

The Cleveland Indians returned first baseman Chris McGuiness to Texas on Wednesday after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft in December. McGuiness has been assigned outright to Round Rock (Triple-A). Both players had to be on the major league Opening Day roster of the drafting teams or be offered back to their former organizations.

Kirkman update: RHP Michael Kirkman, who was the original starter for today's game, pitched just one inning of relief after allowing three runs on three hits and walking one. He was slated to go two or three innings but compiled a high pitch count after facing seven batters during the sixth inning.

Texas red: Forbes released its annual list of valuations for Major League Baseball's franchises. The report also listed the six teams believed to have lost money, including the Rangers. They join the New York Mets, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, Florida Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays. If teams such as Texas, Toronto and Los Angeles, which all have lucrative local television deals, are losing money, the rest of the league is sunk. Of course, the report should be looked at with a wary eye, as creative accounting is always a consideration.

Baker is back: Utility man Jeff Baker returned after missing three games with a sinus infection. Baker, who earned a bench spot with the Rangers as a non-roster invitee, went 1-for-3.

Najera first pitch: Former NBA forward Eduardo Najera will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Thursday’s exhibition game between the Rangers and the Mexico City Red Devils of the Triple-A Mexican League at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Najera was just the second native of Mexico to ever play in the NBA when he made his debut with the Mavericks in 2000. He played from 2000 to '12 with five teams, including two stints with the Mavericks (2000-04; 2010). Najera currently is the coach of the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League.

What's next? Texas has a pair of games scheduled for Thursday. One contest will see the Rangers play the Arizona Diamondbacks at 3:05 p.m. CT at Surprise Stadium. RHP Jerad Eickhoff (1st A outing) will start for Texas. RHP Trevor Cahill (1-1, 2.63 ERA) will start for Arizona. Texas will play only minor leaguers in the game.

In the other game, Texas will host the Mexico City Red Devils for an exhibition contest at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington at 7:05 p.m. CT. RHP Yu Darvish (1-1, 1.98) will start for Texas. RHP David Reyes will take the mound for Mexico City.

Texas will wrap up its spring training schedule with games Friday and Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

A few questions still remain for the Rangers

March, 27, 2013
3/27/13
5:33
PM CT
TEMPE, Ariz. -- While the Texas Rangers wrapped up the Arizona portion of their major league spring training schedule Wednesday, the team still has three preseason games remaining. Many questions have been answered, but with only a few days until Opening Day in Houston on Sunday, there are a few more items to keep an eye on until then.

Fifth starter

Manager Ron Washington announced after Wednesday's game that Alexi Ogando is his No. 3 starter and Derek Holland is the No. 4. Holland will start the home opener April 5 against the Angels, but Washington said that did not play into his decision at all. Nick Tepesch earned the fifth-starter job out of training camp, but that was largely because choices were limited by the spring injuries to Martin Perez and Kyle McClellan, and because Colby Lewis is still recovering from surgery. Lewis and Perez could be back by the end of May. Will one of them unseat Tepesch? Good outings between now and then would make the choice much easier. Tepesch struggled in his previous two spring outings when he faced better-caliber hitters, but he pitched well Wednesday in a minor league game for Round Rock (Triple-A).

Outfield

We know Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry will share time in center and also see time in the outfield corners. We still don't know who will start Opening Day or who will see more playing time, as manager Ron Washington said he isn't announcing a platoon. Outfield is a strong position for Texas, so this is a case of finding time for good players instead of making the best of a bad situation.

Julio Borbon remains in purgatory, as he is out of options and cannot be sent to the minors. President of baseball operations/general manager Jon Daniels said he has talked to teams about Borbon and there is interest. The Rangers will try to trade him before making a roster decision. The Rangers might keep Borbon when they break camp, adding an extra bat to their roster until they need to officially sign Tepesch as the fifth starter for the April 9 game against Tampa. That window will be much tighter if Texas decides to add an eighth reliever instead.

Bullpen

The final two of the seven bullpen slots have not been announced. Those will fall into place after the Rangers decide whether they want to take an extra arm or bat until the April 9 game. If they go with a bat, the final two will be named. If they go with an arm, three more will get the nod. Whoever they choose might be placeholders for Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz, who are both expected to join the bullpen later this season.

Infield

Leury Garcia earned the backup middle-infield role, meaning top prospect Jurickson Profar will begin the season in the minors. The question is, how long will Profar stay there? If Garcia struggles -- remember, he is a rookie, too -- will Profar get the nod? Also, Profar has only 33 days of service time, and allowing him to get more experience at Triple-A stops the clock for a longer period of time. With three Gold Glove players in the Texas infield, there is no rush to bring the super rookie up. However, if he tears up Triple-A pitching, the temptation to have him in Arlington might be too strong to resist.

Mitch Moreland making big strides this spring

March, 27, 2013
3/27/13
2:33
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Perhaps the player who has made the greatest impact this spring and showed the most improvement is Mitch Moreland.

Moreland entered spring training knowing the first-base job was his. He previously shared time on the corner, in part because of his struggles against left-handed pitching. He took extensive offseason batting practice against left-handers to work on that weakness, and it paid off during the spring.

Moreland excelled against both lefties and righties during the 2013 Cactus League season. He also hit the ball with power to all fields, ran the bases well and hit for average. His overall performance left an impression that Moreland is due for a breakout season in 2013.

"He's moving better, staying inside the ball and hitting to the opposite field, which is going to be key for him to stay consistent," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He worked hard during the winter to have good at-bats against lefties, and I think he has, so he'll see more lefties."

Moreland entered Wednesday's game ranked among the Cactus League leaders in several offensive categories.

In 21 games, Moreland leads the Rangers with four home runs and 13 RBIs. He owned an impressive .400 batting average and is seven for his past 14 with runners in scoring position.

Leonys Martin, Craig Gentry should see plenty of time

March, 27, 2013
3/27/13
2:30
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Ron Washington isn't ready to say how the Texas Rangers will use Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry in the outfield. Both players figure to see plenty of time, either as starters or to give Nelson Cruz or David Murphy a day off.

"Both guys will play, but I am not announcing a platoon," Washington said. "I'll find a way to get them both playing time. I'm glad I'm in a situation where I have two guys that can play."

Washington came into spring confident he knew what he had in Gentry, but he was especially interested to see whether the reputation Martin carried into camp was true. Washington confirmed it was and came away impressed with his new weapon.

"It was Martin that I really wanted to see in center field because I never had an opportunity to see the talent and bat speed people said he possessed," Washington said. "I've seen it, and he's legit."

Notes: Rangers ready to head home

March, 27, 2013
3/27/13
2:25
PM CT
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Texas Rangers will leave Arizona immediately after today's game in Tempe against the Los Angeles Angels, wrapping up another slate of Cactus League games and workouts at their facility in Surprise.

Spring training was extended by two weeks due to the World Baseball Classic, and games began only a few days after camp opened. The culmination of that long spring came Tuesday when the team announced a series of roster moves, as the Rangers now have identified 22 of the 25 players who will be on the Opening Day roster for Sunday night's contest in Houston.

"The spring went extremely well this year," manager Ron Washington said. "As we went deeper into the spring, we improved as a team. I thought we progressed the way I figured we'd progress. We were slow in the beginning and picked it up as we went along, but I expected it. Especially since we only had a few days before the first game. We were playing in February when we were still trying to work out the kinks."

The Rangers head back to Texas to play an exhibition game in Arlington against the Mexico City Red Devils at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Thursday night. The scheduled game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Surprise on Thursday will feature only minor league players.

Texas then will head to San Antonio for a pair of games Friday and Saturday in the Alamodome before beginning the regular season the following night against the Astros in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPN.

Other team notes:

  • Washington said he thinks his initial choice for an eighth-inning reliever would be either Robbie Ross or Michael Kirkman. He also said that won't preclude others such as Jason Frasor from seeing time in the eighth, but Ross and Kirkman likely will be his first options out of the chute.

  • The official announcement of the No. 3 and No. 4 starters to open the season is expected today. The projected order is Alexi Ogando at No. 3 with Derek Holland pitching the home opener April 5.

    Washington also said the Rangers have not decided whether they will carry an extra pitcher or position player until they need to make room for a fifth starter April 9.

    "I think we'll come up with that between before we head to San Antonio," Washington said. "It might be after, but somewhere in there we'll make the decision."

  • Nate Robertson is taking his reassignment to Round Rock (Triple-A) in stride. The big left-hander had a very good spring that saw him reinvent his delivery. The results paid off, as he allowed just two runs in 11 innings, good for a 1.64 ERA.

    Washington compared Robertson's transition to a more control-oriented delivery to that of Frank Tanana, who underwent a similar transformation and extended his career with a few more successful seasons before hanging up his glove.

    Robertson hasn't pitched with a big league club since 2010 and even saw time in independent baseball last season, but he sees his successful training camp as a springboard to continue his quest to return to the majors. Robertson had an option to ask for his release but instead accepted his minor league assignment.

    "I haven't even gauged interest from other teams, which I think shows my desire to remain in this organization," Robertson said. "I have to weigh the other factors too if there is an opportunity to extend my career someplace else, but I'm just going to let that play out.

    "I still have a desire to play this game so I'm not going home."

  • Michael Kirkman was originally slated to start Wednesday, but recent waiver addition Brad Mills will take the mound to begin the game against his former team instead. Mills was acquired Sunday from the Angels. Kirkman is scheduled as the second pitcher and will throw two or three innings as opposed to the five that were originally planned.

    Injury notes:

  • RHP Kyle McClellan is 15 days into a projected three- to four-week period of not throwing due to a strained right lat muscle. Once cleared, he will begin a long-toss and flat-ground throwing program.

  • LHP Martin Perez has been cleared to begin a throwing program once he is pain free. He is no longer wearing protective gear on the arm. Perez is anticipated to begin throwing next week.

  • RHP Joakim Soria continues recovery from his second Tommy John surgery and is throwing bullpen sessions. Barring any setback, he will begin throwing live batting practices the week of April 8.

  • RHP Colby Lewis (flexor tendon surgery) is on the same time frame as Soria for beginning to throw live BP, again barring any setbacks. He also is throwing bullpen sessions.

  • C Eli Whiteside has left the team for personal reasons not related to his recent assignment to Round Rock (Triple-A).
  • Matt Harrison ready for opener after final spring tuneup

    March, 26, 2013
    3/26/13
    6:45
    PM CT
    SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Matt Harrison didn't say it but it had to be tough getting up for his final spring start of the 2013 Cactus League season.

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    Broadcaster Steve Busby joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the Rangers' starting rotation, if Yu Darvish is a Cy Young candidate and how the team can replace Josh Hamilton's production.

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    The big lefty recently learned he would be the Texas Rangers' Opening Day starter when the regular season gets underway Sunday in Houston. He was also coming off sharp performances in his last two outings and had his game ready for the season.

    There was nothing to gain out of his scheduled four-inning start against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday beyond getting work in. Harrison lasted 3 1/3 innings in his spring finale, allowing four runs (three earned) while walking one and striking out one. He also allowed a two-run home run to Brandon Short on his 81st and final pitch of the game.

    "I definitely didn't finish out the way I wanted to but I feel like my stuff is there," Harrison said. "I'm ready to go. I just had a little trouble with my release point consistently today."

    Harrison can now turn his attention to making his first Opening Day start in a nationally televised game on ESPN. There is no denying the 27-year old has paid his dues to reach this point. Earlier in his career, Harrison pitched at the back end of the rotation before climbing his way up to the front. One of his career low points came in 2010 when he was left off the postseason roster. The long road traveled leads to the mound at Minute Maid Park when Texas gets its 2013 season underway.

    "From two years to the way things are working out now, I think trusting myself was the biggest thing I needed to start doing," Harrison said. "Then the confidence grew within myself and the coaching staff that I could get the job done. It's something I'm not going to take lightly.

    "Now my mental preparation is for that first start and getting ready for it," Harrison said. "You strive to be the best pitcher you can be, and it is a great honor to start Opening Day for your club. It is something that may only happen once, so I am going to enjoy it."

    No. 5 starter candidate Nick Tepesch roughed up

    March, 22, 2013
    3/22/13
    6:57
    PM CT
    SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rookie right-hander Nick Tepesch has had a dream spring in his first major league training camp. He came in as an unknown non-roster invitee but is not anonymous any more.

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    Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the honor of being named the Opening Day starter.

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    After a strong debut, there was cautious interest in the 24-year old. Let's see it again they said. So, he did it again. In fact, his first three outings were good enough to start turning heads. After a couple weeks of camp, Tepesch was suddenly a darkhorse candidate for the open fifth starter spot in the rotation.

    Meanwhile, the other candidates gradually fell out of contention, either because of injury or ineffectiveness. Tepesch rose in the ranks to the point that a strong performance during his scheduled six-inning start Friday would have all but ensured the rookie would break camp with the No. 5 job.

    After allowing eight earned runs on 12 hits in five-plus innings of the Rangers 14-9 loss to Colorado, Tepesch had his first real battle with adversity. With an admittedly limited body of work this spring, he has shown the talent and poise to potentially fill a need for Texas. Now, we have to see how he bounces back the next time he takes the mound.

    "I've always had a good feel for him," manager Ron Washington said. "It was about how he would react to adversity and I thought he reacted well. He battled hard and kept coming. He just ran out of gas in the sixth inning."

    In his last start Sunday, Tepesch gave up three runs in five innings against the Chicago Cubs. We were warned that this is a young player and not to expect too much but it is difficult not to get caught up when someone new makes such an impact.

    Is the feel good story over or is it just starting to write itself? An opportunity is still there. If the young right-hander can pitch well in his next appearance, he may not only take advantage of it, but find himself in the major leagues.

    Rapid Reaction: Rockies 14, Rangers 9

    March, 22, 2013
    3/22/13
    6:53
    PM CT
    SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Texas Rangers (13-13-2) continued their recent trend of alternating wins and losses following with a 14-9 loss to the Colorado Rockies (13-10) on Friday at Surprise Stadium.

    What this means: Texas falls back to .500 and has dropped two of its last three. The 14 runs allowed tied the most in a single game this spring (Feb. 26 vs. Chicago White Sox).

    Roughed up rookie: Starter Nick Tepesch had his most difficult outing of the spring, allowing eight earned runs on 12 hits with three walks and three strikeouts in five-plus innings. The rookie right-hander was on the cusp of earning the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation, but after this performance, and allowing three runs in five innings to the Cubs on Sunday, the 24-year old will need to bounce back well in his final spring start next week.

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    ESPN MLB Insider Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett in Surprise to discuss what to expect from the Rangers this season.

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    Down under: Submarine pitcher Ben Rowen replaced Tepesch and didn't fare any better. All five batters he faced reached base on four hits and one error. He allowed three runs, all on a Wilin Rosario home run, and one inherited runner scored. Rowen was appearing in his second consecutive game. He pitched 1.1 scoreless innings Thursday.

    Rare air: Even LHP Joe Ortiz, who has been untouchable in 'A' games this spring, fell victim to the Colorado offensive assault, giving up a two-run home run and allowing one inherited runner to score. Ortiz was unscored upon in nine innings in 'A' games.

    Still streaking: Elvis Andrus went 1-for-2 extending his hitting streak to 12 games. He is 15-for-34 during that span (.441) and is hitting .378 overall this spring.

    Whoa, Nellie: Nelson Cruz continues to hit well this spring and sparked the Rangers four-run fourth inning with his two-run, home run to right field.

    Four for four: Texas scored four runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to continue its recent offensive onslaught. The Rangers had posted three of their highest hit totals in the last five games.

    Four fifths: David Murphy and A.J. Pierzynski hit back-to-back home runs in the Rangers four-run fifth inning. Murphy blasted a two run blast to right, followed by Pierzynski's shot that cleared the grassy area in right field and went well into the home run party tent that sits behind it. Mitch Moreland and Craig Gentry followed with doubles off the wall as the bottom half of the Rangers order roughed up Rafael Betancourt.

    What's next?: Texas will hit the road to take on the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday at 3:05 p.m. CT at Goodyear Ballpark. RHP Yu Darvish (0-1, 1.04) is the scheduled starter for Texas. RHP Mat Latos (0-0, 2.45) will take the mound for Cincinnati. The game can be heard live on ESPN 103.3 FM.

    Nick Tepesch ascending to No. 5 spot

    March, 22, 2013
    3/22/13
    1:31
    PM CT
    SURPRISE, Ariz.--The number of candidates for the Rangers No. 5 starter job was reduced by two Friday morning, as RHP Justin Grimm was optioned to Round Rock (AAA) and RHP Randy Wells was reassigned to minor league camp.

    That leaves Friday's starter Nick Tepesch, as the last official in-house candidate remaining. The rookie right-hander is scheduled to throw six innings with a 90-pitch limit against the Colorado Rockies at Surprise Stadium.

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    While no one is saying it out loud, today's outing will go a long way in determining if Tepesch can be the final man in the starting rotation when spring training breaks.

    "I'm not talking about the No. 5 starter yet until I am ready to announce it," manager Ron Washington said. "He (Tepesch) is still fighting for the No. 5 but that is all I'll say."

    The ascension of Tepesch this spring has been one of the feel-good underdog stories of camp. The 24-year old was initially seen as a dark horse for this slot as he entered his first major league training camp as a non-roster invitee and little was known about him. All he has done is pitch well, showing poise beyond his experience.

    With another strong outing Friday, he will greatly improve his chances to go from unknown to major league pitcher.

    "I'm just trying to go about my business everyday and learn as much as I can," Tepesch said. "I feel like it's been a good camp so far."

    In four spring outings, Tepesch has allowed five earned runs in 13 innings with 10 strikeouts. He was stingy during his first three appearances but gave up three runs in five innings in his last start Sunday against the Cubs in Las Vegas.

    "I felt strong last time, throwing five and my body felt strong afterwards," Tepesch said. "I even felt like I could have gone a few more."

    In the meantime, the Rangers will continue to stretch out Derek Lowe. The 39-year old, who was signed as a free agent to a minor-league deal March 6, is not being called an official candidate but is being used as such.

    Lowe gave up six runs in 3.2 innings Thursday night, after trying to pitch four innings on two-days rest. He was sharp in the first three innings before wearing down. Washington said they hope to get six out of Lowe when he makes his next start.

    "We have time to continue to stretch him out," Washington said. "That is our intention. He is on an accelerated program. Because of his experience, he is handling that accelerated program pretty good."

    The Rangers haven't ruled out looking outside the organization for their answer at the No. 5 slot either.

    "There's always a chance," Washington said. "We are always looking."

    Grimm showed improvement in his last two appearances but was hit very hard in his first two outings. He said a renewed mental approach after those two outings led to his improvement. The 24-year old will have a chance to continue to show what he can do with Round Rock.

    "He will get another opportunity at the major league level," Washington said. "Initially, most young guys haven't had enough baseball background to trust (themselves) so they try to go out and prove they can do something and sometimes you realize it too late that isn't the approach to take."

    Wells struggled throughout camp with putting too many men on base. He oftentimes pitched out of jams but never got into a sustained rhythm. He'll remain in the organization with Round Rock and provide depth in the rotation.

    With a little more than a week remaining in camp, the Rangers have four pitching slots to identify, the final rotation slot and three in the bullpen. Washington said by the end of camp, by any means necessary, those slots will be filled by the end of spring training.

    "We are going to leave here with those four guys, you just wish someone would step it up and make it easier," Washington said. "But we are going to leave here with those four guys whether it be from outside or whether the four guys are inside, but we are going to leave with that staff totally filled. We are going to keep playing everyday and hopefully someone will take the lead."

    After this morning's moves, the Rangers spring training roster is at 43 players.

    Other team notes:

  • The Rangers announced today that Robbie Parker will throw the ceremonial first pitch prior to the team's home opener Friday, April 5 against the Angels. Parker is the father of six-year old Emilie Parker, who was killed in the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December. Mr. Parker grew up in North Texas and will be accompanied by his wife and two daughters. Parker is a long-time Texas Rangers fan and took Emilie to several Rangers games in Arlington, Seattle and Boston.

  • Four Texas pitchers in major league camp will pitch in a minor league game tonight: LHP Michael Kirkman for Round Rock (AAA), RHP Josh Lindblom, RHP Coty Woods and RHP Johan Yan will all pitch for Frisco (AA).

  • Today marks the last of two meetings between Texas and Colorado. The Rangers lost the first meeting, 9-1, at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.

  • Leonys Martin had four RBIs last night, including three on a walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth. He is tied with Mitch Moreland for the team lead with 11 RBIs.

  • Injuries: Colby Lewis, other pitchers to be examined

    March, 22, 2013
    3/22/13
    12:30
    PM CT
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    SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Health updates on four injured Texas Rangers pitchers will be coming soon as team physician Dr. Keith Meister will examine RHP Joakim Soria, RHP Colby Lewis, LHP Martin Perez and RHP Kyle McClellan on Saturday. The exams will determine how each is progressing in the recovery of their injuries and the next step in their pitching programs.

    Once healthy, Lewis, Perez and McClellan all provide potential additional depth to the rotation as possible options for the No. 5 starter job.

    Soria, who was signed as a free agent in December during his recovery from his second Tommy John surgery, figures to play a key role in the Rangers bullpen later this season.

    Lewis (surgery -- torn flexor tendon) and Soria (Tommy John surgery) both continue throwing bullpen sessions.

    Perez (fractured left ulna) is not expected to resume a throwing program for approximately 2-3 weeks.

    McClellan (strained lat muscle) is not expected to resume a throwing program for 3-4 weeks.

    Lineups: Craig Gentry in center field

    March, 22, 2013
    3/22/13
    11:24
    AM CT
    SURPRISE, Ariz.--The Texas Rangers (13-12-2) seek their second consecutive victory when they host the Colorado Rockies (12-10) on Friday at Surprise Stadium at 3:05 p.m. CT. In their last game Thursday, Texas posted a 10-9 walk-off victory over the Los Angeles Angels at Surprise Stadium.

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    The lineup is identical to last night's game with the exception of Craig Gentry getting the start in center field and batting ninth. He was given a precautionary day off Thursday after fouling a pitch off his calf and ankle in Tuesday's game.

    RANGERS LINEUP

    2B Ian Kinsler
    SS Elvis Andrus
    DH Lance Berkman
    3B Adrian Beltre
    RF Nelson Cruz
    LF David Murphy
    C A.J. Pierzynski
    1B Mitch Moreland
    CF Craig Gentry

    Pitchers
    RHP Nick Tepesch
    RHP Joe Nathan
    RHP Jason Frasor
    LHP Joe Ortiz
    RHP Ben Rowen
    RHP Lisalverto Bonilla

    ROCKIES LINEUP

    CF Eric Young Jr.
    2B D.J. LaMahieu
    1B Jordan Pacheco
    DH Wilin Rosario
    RF Tyler Colvin
    3B Nolan Arenado
    LF Charlie Blackmon
    C Yorvit Torrealba
    SS Reid Brignac

    Pitchers
    RHP Tyler Chatwood
    RHP Rafael Betancourt
    LHP Danny Rosenbaum
    RHP Bobby Cassevah
    LHP Christian Friedrich
    LHP Josh Outman
    LHP Rex Brothers
    RHP Miguel Batista

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    TEAM LEADERS

    BA LEADER
    Leonys Martin
    BA HR RBI R
    .322 1 9 4
    OTHER LEADERS
    HRP. Fielder 2
    RBIA. Rios 10
    RE. Andrus 12
    OPSS. Choo .891
    WM. Perez 3
    ERAY. Darvish 0.82
    SOY. Darvish 23