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Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Notes: Some updates on Rangers' pitchers

By Richard Durrett

SEATTLE -- There's a lot going on in the pitching world for the Rangers. Some notes on that:

* Brandon Webb, as we noted earlier, is not going to be starting in an extended spring game Thursday. He's going to throw some bullpen sessions, including a long one Thursday, to work on his mechanics with Keith Comstock, the pitching rehab coordinator. Many current Rangers swear by Comstock, and Webb said last week that Comstock believes there's more velocity in Webb's arm.

Webb texted that he's looking forward to figuring out those mechanics in the bullpen rather than on the mound in a game.

"I have been doing some drills and had some real good days," Webb said. "I just think it's better to try them in the pen than to try it while also trying to get hitters out. I feel real good about it."

* Mark Lowe is in Seattle and can pitch tonight if needed. He said he's made two tweaks to his setup. First, he's holding his glove up higher as he stops (in front of his chest as opposed to his belt) and he's not closing his front shoulder as much. He said that he couldn't see the corner of the plate because of that.

"For whatever reason, it's given my slider more depth," Lowe said. "I can't explain it, but it helps."

Lowe's final 4 1/3 innings in Triple-A Round Rock were scoreless. The velocity is still there and if he can find more movement on his slider, he can be more effective. At least that's the hope.

"Maybe he's the shot in the arm we're looking for," manager Ron Washington said.

* Pedro Strop was optioned. He clearly has the stuff to be a big league pitcher. But the Rangers want to see him work on his ability to pitch in the pressure situations and get his mind right.

"If you go to the minor leagues, you'll see better arms than in the bigs," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "You see guys with a lot of stuff. The difference is mental awareness, mental toughness. That's the separator."

Strop had a blown save and a loss in Tuesday's game and gave up three runs.

"We needed to get him in an environment where he can relax," Washington said. "This game is fast. We can't keep beating this kid up."

Washington mentioned wanting Strop to "slow the game down" and relax out there.

* Washington said he would be hesitant to use Cody Eppley if a string of lefties are due up. But if he didn't want to use Arthur Rhodes or Darren Oliver, he'd go with Ryan Tucker or Lowe in that situation tonight.