Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus were given Thursday off, but returned to the lineup on Friday versus Colorado. Cruz left Wednesday's game with a bruised right hand, while Andrus has been sidelined with a tight right hip flexor.
Here is Texas' lineup: 1. Ian Kinsler (2B); 2. Elvis Andrus (SS); 3. Josh Hamilton (CF); 4. Mike Napoli (C); 5. Michael Young (3B); 6. Nelson Cruz (RF); 7. Mitch Moreland (1B); 8. Yorvit Torrealba (DH); 9. Craig Gentry (LF).
Matt Harrison allowed only one earned run over six innings in his final Cactus League start, and Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland swatted back-to-back homers in the second inning to provide the Rangers’ only offense in a 6-2 loss to San Francisco.
Harrison logged 91 pitches (64 strikes) and continued to be the Rangers’ best pitcher this spring. He finished with a 1.69 ERA in 16 innings. He also worked six scoreless innings last weekend in a minor-league game.
Harrison will pitch three or four innings Tuesday against a minor-league team from Mexico City in his final tune-up for the regular season. His first regular-season start will be April 8 against Chicago.
“I think I’ve been really consistent in that I’ve been pounding the strike zone and getting ahead of guys,” said Harrison, who struck out seven. “Strikeouts are good, but I’m just trying to get guys out as fast as I can.”
Three relievers vying for a bullpen spot all struggled to some degree against the Giants.
Yoshinori Tateyama entered with a 2-1 lead in the seventh but surrendered three runs, although the defense behind him didn’t help much. He issued four runs in his previous outing.
Left-hander Michael Kirkman’s eighth inning was prolonged by an error, which led to a Giants run, but he also surrendered a double to the left-handed-hitting Brandon Belt.
Koji Uehara allowed a homer to Joaquin Arias to start the ninth, but retired the next three hitters in order.
Mark Lowe struggled earlier in the day in a minor-league game, giving up three runs.
Manager Ron Washington said that the decision on the bullpen spots will likely come down to the 11 a.m. Wednesday roster deadline.
“We need to see them keep competing and start getting some outs,” Washington said. “What we’ve got is what we’ve got.”
Brad Hawpe has swung the bat well in spring training, but hasn’t built up the arm strength to play in the outfield. He can only play first base and designated hitter, which doesn’t make him a viable bench option for the Texas Rangers.
Because of that, the Rangers released Hawpe Thursday night.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, teams have until Friday at 11 a.m. to do three options with non-roster invitees – put them on the major league roster, release them or assign them to the minor leagues and pay them a $100,000 retention bonus.
Hawpe, a Saginaw Boswell product, wants to play in the major leagues, and said last week that he wasn’t interested in accepting a minor league assignment.
"I was given a great opportunity here, being able to prove to myself that I could still hit 7 1/2 months removed from Tommy John," Hawpe said. "I'm just not a fit here right now because I can't throw from the outfield, and I completely understand that."
Hawpe has shown that he can still be an offensive threat, batting .261 with two doubles and one home run. He had another home run wiped off the stats because the game was rained out.
If Hawpe isn’t able to find a 25-man roster spot, the Rangers would welcome him back on a minor league deal. Once Hawpe – who had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last August – builds up the arm strength to play in the outfield, he would be of value to the Rangers.
But the Rangers aren’t going to send Hawpe to the minor leagues against his will.
“We are going to give Brad some time to find a major league opportunity,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “If that doesn’t work out, we’d love to have him stay with us. He’s been swinging the bat well.”
Right-hander Neftali Feliz threw a bullpen session Thursday at the Surprise Recreation Campus. He reported no issues with his shoulder, which prompted the Texas Rangers to set their starting rotation. Here's a clip of Feliz at work.
Colby Lewis will be the Texas Rangers’ starting pitcher on Opening Day after manager Ron Washington announced on Thursday the five pitchers who will be in the rotation to start the 2012 season.
Lewis will be followed by left-handers Derek Holland and Matt Harrison, and righties Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz will occupy the fourth and fifth spots.
That’s how the rotation was set at the start of spring training, and the Rangers elected to not split up their lefties with Darvish. They could have also accomplished that by making Holland the starter to open the season April 6 against the White Sox, but Lewis earned the nod as the staff’s veteran.
"He's my veteran," Washington said. "He's the guy who's been dependable. He's going to pitch his game."
Darvish, the Japanese star, will make his first career start April 9 against Seattle and Ichiro Suzuki, the most successful Japanese player in major-league history.
"It's not Darvish vs. Ichiro," Washington said. "It's Darvish vs. the Mariners."
Nelson Cruz said his right hand feels good, and he is not concerned about it with Opening Day eight days away. The Rangers are given Cruz the night off, though, and have Joey Butler starting in rightfield.
"I don't think it's that big of a deal," Cruz said.
Cruz was hit by a pitch on Wednesday night, as it grazed his knuckles. He left the game and iced it.
Here are a few other notes from Thursday:
* Elvis Andrus, sidelined with tightness in his right hip flexor, was given another day off. Andrus was expected to start tonight, but that has been pushed back to Friday. "I'm feeling good, going to do all of the workout today," Andrus said.
* Neftali Feliz will start Saturday's game on three days' rest. Feliz, who left a start last week with tightness in his right shoulder, is throwing a bullpen session today and, if that goes well, is expected to begin the season in the Rangers' rotation. Colby Lewis is expected to start the Cactus League finale on Sunday.
* Butler gets his first Cactus League start. He is a right-handed hitting outfielder, and could be a long shot candidate to be the Rangers' right-handed bat off the bench. Notably, Craig Gentry and Julio Borbon are not in the starting lineup tonight.
Plenty to cover in the Rangers' 7-6 victory over Kansas City, including Julio Borbon seeing his stock slide in what might have seemed to be a harmless situation.
First up, though, is Derek Holland, who allowed six runs on nine hits, including two long home runs, over five innings in his final Cactus League start, and Nelson Cruz, who had to leave early after being hit by a pitch in his right hand.
Cruz was said to be day-to-day. He exited after striking out in the fifth inning. He was hit by Luke Hochevar in the third inning on a pitch that manager Ron Washington said grazed his knuckles. The Rangers' x-ray machine is on the way back to Texas, so Cruz did not have x-rays. He will go to an area hospital Thursday if his hand is still sore.
"I just got him out of there," said Washington, who doesn't believe the injury is serious.
Holland allowed homers to Lorenzo Cain in the first and Billy Butler in the third. The Butler homer appeared to exit Surprise Stadium in left field. Holland said Butler caught a sinker, a pitch that Holland continues to work on as he nears Opening Day.
"He crushed the ball," Holland said. "I think it went 800 feet."
Said Washington: "I don't know if it went 800 feet, but it sounded like it was shot out of a cannon."
The Rangers trailed throughout but rallied for a run in the ninth and scored the go-ahead tally in the 10th on a double by Matt Kata, who went to third on an error.
Borbon, who is competing for a roster spot as the Rangers' center fielder, was the next batter, and he missed two chances for an insurance run on a squeeze play. That didn't sit well with Washington, who said Borbon is in a group that practices bunting every day.
"The first time that can happen," Washington said. "The second time there's no excuse. There's no excuse for not bunting. That's their job. If they can't do that ... ."