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Thursday, March 3, 2011
Surprise six: Thursday camp recap

By Jeff Caplan

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Chris Davis had a huge day at the plate Thurdsay with three hits, including two doubles and a walk-off home run to give the Texas Rangers an 11-9 split-squad victory over the Cleveland Indians. In Mesa, the Rangers rallied for two runs in the eighth and one in the ninth for an 8-7 victory.

This day was about pitching. Four hopefuls for the starting rotation took the mound. Neftali Feliz and Eric Hurley pitched two innings apiece in Surprise and Derek Holland and Tanner Scheppers pitched in Mesa. Holland completed his two innings, but Scheppers had a rough day, lasting just 2/3 of an inning.

Here's a rundown of the day's top six stories:

1. Neftali Feliz didn't blow anybody away in his first start of the spring, but that's not what the Rangers' coaching staff was looking for. They want to see how Feliz can mix in his offspeed pithes so that he's not reliant on his fastball and slider. The Rangers are going to give Feliz every opportunity to win a starting job. He worked out of jams in both innings, giving up no runs on two singles, a walk and a hit batter.

2. Of the four hopefuls that took the mound Thursday, Eric Hurley, beset by injuries since 2008, pitched two perfect innings, needing just 21 pitches to set the side down in order twice. Hurley had shoulder and wrist injury and hadn't faced major league hitters since July 2008.

3. Ian Kinsler is digging this leadoff role. He started off Thursday's game with a shot to left that bounced off the wall and over for his third home run of the springin four games. Kinsler had two hits and a walk against the Indians, increasing his spring batting average to .556. Kinsler said he's working on keeping his on-base percentage up while increasing his power numbers after hitting just nine home runs last season.

4. Third baseman Adrian Beltre won't be back within the 10- to 14-day window the club announced a week ago. The Grade I calf strain will keep him a bit longer. How much longer isn't really clear, but the team does not believe that Opening Day is in jeopardy.

5. Mark Lowe, who said he wants the closer job if Feliz moves to the starting rotation, made a strong case Thursday by pitching a perfect ninth inning to get the win against the Indians. He struck out two. Lowe has not allowed an earned run in his two innings pitched and has allowed one hit.

6. Pitcher Brandon Webb continued his progress toward pitching in a spring training game with his third bullpen session in five days. He threw 54 pitches, once again increasing from 28 pitches Sunday to 46 Tuesday. He'll take the next two days to throw long toss and then get back on the mound again Sunday.