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Friday, March 23, 2012
Reaction: Julio Borbon's good night at plate

By Richard Durrett

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Two days after Julio Borbon struggled in the field and at the plate in his last Cactus League game, the outfielder had a better night in Goodyear in the Rangers' 6-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

Borbon led off the game by belting a hanging 2-2 curveball out to right field to give the Texas Rangers a 1-0 lead. Two innings later, he stayed back nicely on a breaking ball and singled up the middle. Borbon, who had one ball go off his glove Tuesday, didn't have any defensive miscues Thursday.

It was encouraging that Borbon was able to shake off Tuesday's game and move forward.

"I'm still learning, still improving," Borbon said. "I can't control what may happen with the roster. I really don't think about it. What I can do is try to get better every game."

Borbon said he feels like he's seeing pitches well and is getting himself in a good hitting position.

"I'm exaggerating things in practice, like staying through the ball and then just trying to get a pitch to hit in the games," Borbon said.

The center field spot continues to be up for grabs. Craig Gentry came into spring as a slight favorite, though he was not given the position. Gentry had a sore wrist, but has been back in the lineup the past few games, including playing center field for the entire afternoon game in Surprise on Thursday. Borbon arrived with little pressure and has had a good spring overall. His defense has improved, and he's hitting the ball well (was batting .308 (8-for-26) coming in).

It's possible that both Borbon and Gentry could make the club. Conor Jackson and Brad Hawpe haven't found their offensive rhythm this spring. Hawpe has battled mild hamstring strains and Jackson is just 2-for-28. Of course, the club could look for a right-handed hitting outfielder (Borbon is a lefty) for the bench in a late spring trade. And they've made late spring trades before (see Andres Blanco and Matt Treanor). But Borbon's focus is simply to keep improving and make the decision tough on the Rangers' coaching staff and front office.

Glove work: Third baseman Mike Olt showed why he's considered one of the top defensive third-base prospects in the game in the second inning. Wilson Valdez, who has good speed, bunted, and Olt charged the ball, barehanded it and made an off-balance throw to get Valdez by a step. It was a nice play.

Double up: The first time through the lineup, Scott Feldman allowed four hits. And all of them were doubles. That included a long double to left-center field by Reds pitcher Mat Latos. The Reds had their pitchers bat, while the Rangers used a DH.

"It was weird," said Feldman, who threw 86 pitches. "But after the second inning, I thought things were better."

Feldman said he wants to start, but knows his role isn't up to him.

"I want to start, but what can I do?" Feldman said. "I have peace of mind that I can get guys out on a consistent basis. I'm over that 2010 season."

Scheppers' mixed bag: Feldman, who ended up going 4 1/3 innings and allowing two runs on eight hits, wasn't able to get through the fifth inning. So with the bases loaded and one out, Scheppers struck out Todd Frazier on a 98-mph fastball and then induced a slow hopper to the mound to get out of the jam. But in his second inning of work, Scheppers allowed three runs on four hits.