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Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Harrison off to good start; Rhodes sizzles

By Jeff Caplan

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Matt Harrison said he's seen nothing like this.

"I’ve never seen so many lefties this close to the big leagues," Harrison after allowing one run and two hits in two innings as the starter in Tuesday's 5-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners.

Harrison is locked in a competition with fellow southpaws Derek Holland and Michael Kirkman to fill out the Texas Rangers' rotation behind lefty C.J. Wilson and righty Colby Lewis, and possibly Tommy Hunter, who is scheduled to start and pitch two innings Wednesday.

"Lefties seem like they're a dime a dozen now in this organization," Harrison said. "I really try not to worry about that. You have to get outs no matter what and pitch your game."

Harrison made a good first impression, mostly keeping his pitches down and staying ahead in the count. He rolled the first inning, allowing just a two-out single to Milton Bradley before getting Jack Cust to ground into a force play. After getting Miguel Olivo on a grounder to start the second, Harrison ran into some self-induced problems.

He started Adam Kennedy with a called strike on a cutter, but then Kennedy didn't bite on three more cutters outside of the zone, and Harrison said it rattled him.

"My pace was good in the first inning, then all of a sudden I got behind that guy," Harrison said. "He kept laying off those outside pitches and I’m like, 'Crap, man,' so I started getting right back on the rubber, catch the ball and throw, catch the ball and throw. Instead of just taking my time and making a good, quality pitch down, I just started rushing a little bit."

Kennedy deposited his fifth pitch, a 91-mph fastball, into the Rangers' bullpen beyond the right-field fence.

Overall, Harrison had good control and kept his pitches down. Five of the six outs he recorded game on ground balls.

"I thought he did a pretty good job. He got one pitch down in the wheelhouse of Adam Kennedy. Other than that he kept the ball down and pounded the strike zone."

Other highlights from Tuesday's game:

*Lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes, 41, apparently didn't want to stick around long. He made his Rangers spring debut in the fourth inning and needed nine pitches, eight being called strikes, to set the Mariners down in order. He got Kennedy looking at three consecutive fastballs, then got ahead of Franklin Gutierrez 0-2 on a fastball and a changeup before getting him to fly out to center on the third pitch. Finally, Rhodes, a Waco La Vega High School product, caught Dustin Ackley looking at two sliders and fastball to end the innning.

"That was as effecient as you will ever see pitched," Washington said. "Three pitches to three batters and he walked off the field, grabbed his jacket and went to the clubhouse."

*Julio Borbon continues to swing a hot bat with two a pair of singles to drive his average up to .714. He also made a stellar diving catch in center in the third inning on a Chone Figgins sinking liner. Borbon committed an error in each of the first two games.

*Brian Barden, a non-roster invitee, joined Borbon and Chris Davis in the two-hit club. Barden smacked a double and had an RBI in his first of likely very few starts at third base.

*The Rangers got a look at former pitching prospect Blake Beavan, who was dealt to the Mariners along with first baseman Justin Smoak in the Cliff Lee deal. The Rangers got to him for three runs on two hits in two innings.

*Taylor Teagarden got his first start at catcher after Yorvit Torrealba was a late scratch with back stiffness. Teagarden went 0-for-2 at the plate.