Notes: Koji Uehara works on slider

February, 28, 2012
2/28/12
12:08
PM CT
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Koji Uehara appears to have put any concerns about trades behind him. The Japanese pitcher, who arrived at spring training with trade talk swirling, is walking around with a smile on his face and going about his business.

"We had a discussion and as of now I'm a Ranger," Uehara said through a translator.

The pitcher declined to get into specifics, but feels like he's going to be a Ranger and wants to be ready to help the bullpen come April.

"The regular season hasn't started yet, but I'm relaxed right now," Uehara said. "You don't have to think about the results yet."

Manager Ron Washington and others have praised Uehara's early work, noting his fastball has good movement and he's been working on his slider.

"Maybe his arm was a little tired after he came over from Baltimore, but he's showing late movement on his fastball now," Washington said. "I never saw his splitter from behind, but I did today. I see why nobody hits it."

Uehara said the slider was priority for him this spring, to make it as productive a pitch as his splitter and fastball.

"I tried it a few times to hitters the past BP outings this week," Uehara said. "It's tough to pitch in this league with just two pitches. I have to admit, I had struggles last year at the end of the season."

So he felt like he wanted to add the slider to his repertoire. Left-handed batters hit just .130 against Uehara last season, so he could give the bullpen an important arm against left-handed batters if they don't find a left-handed pitcher they want among the group in camp now.

Other notes:

* Washington was asked about a six-man rotation and said the club hasn't discussed it and plans to go with five. He added they'll monitor the pitchers and utilize off days to get them some rest. That's especially important with Neftali Feliz and Yu Darvish joining the rotation. Feliz hasn't started since 2009 and Darvish hasn't pitched in a five-man rotation. We'll have more on that on this blog Wednesday morning.

* The skipper talked briefly about left-handed relief and said he's watched all of the candidates so far. When asked about Martin Perez, Washington said that if Perez stepped up this spring and was considered, the group would get together and decide if he needed to be in the bullpen with the big club or continue to start in the minors. He's come to camp stretched out to start, but is a bullpen candidate depending on how he does.

* Workouts on Tuesday will be in the afternoon in Surprise because of a union meeting in the clubhouse. The Rangers must find a new player rep with C.J. Wilson now with the Angels. They'll get briefed on the new CBA as part of the meeting.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.324 19 77 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182