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Friday, April 2, 2010
Wilson closes lights-out spring

By Tim MacMahon

ARLINGTON, Texas -- C.J. Wilson has a bright future as a starter if he keeps pitching the way he did this spring.

The only real problem with the ex-reliever’s final tune-up start was that it was cut short by a bank of lights going out at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Manager Ron Washington wanted to make sure relievers Darren Oliver and Dustin Nippert got an inning of work, so he pulled Wilson earlier than expected due to electrical uncertainty.

So Wilson settled for five hitless innings and a no-decision in the 2-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals. He allowed two walks and racked up four strikeouts in the 61-pitch performance.

Wilson, who will make his first regular season start in five years Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays, had a 3.24 ERA in 25 spring innings. Opponents batted a puny .167 against him.

“He’s not building up a big pitch count,” Washington said. “He’s attacking the strike zone. He’s keeping it simple, getting ahead of hitters the first pitch and going from there.”

The biggest question about Wilson making the transition from the bullpen was whether he could be efficient enough with his pitches to go deep into games as a starter. He looks forward to competing with ace Scott Feldman for the team lead in innings pitched.

“You don’t have to be as fine as a starter. As a closer or whatever, you’ve got to come in and paint the corners and cut the knees, because the game is really on the line every pitch. As a starter, you have time to stretch it out.”

Unless the lights go out.