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Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Michael Kirkman ready for opportunity

By Richard Durrett

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Michael Kirkman knows the Texas Rangers head into spring training looking for a left-handed reliever. And the 25-year-old pitcher wants to show he can do the job.

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Texas Rangers reliever Michael Kirkman talks about the short offseason, the adjustment to being a full-time reliever and the ins and outs of spring training.

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Kirkman spent most of the 2011 season with Triple-A Round Rock. He shifted from a starter to a reliever and spent with month of September with the Rangers. He had a 6.59 ERA in 27 1/3 innings with the big league club.

"I feel good and I know this is a good opportunity for me," Kirkman said. "I've had a chance to come here the last couple of years and get some big league experience and I think that can help me now."

Kirkman isn't the only challenger for a left-handed relief job. The club traded for Kelvin De La Cruz from Cleveland, who hasn't pitched above the Double-A level but has good minor-league splits against left-handed pitchers. Joe Beimel, Martin Perez, Mitch Stetter and others will also get their shot at the left-handed relief job.

Kirkman said he's focused on getting all of his pitches refined (fastball, slider, split/changeup) and working on his mechanics.

"I've been throwing and getting ready," Kirkman said.