Rangers right-hander Alexi Ogando allowed three runs (two earned) in six innings, striking out eight, Wednesdsay afternoon against Triple A Albuquerque. But he's going to end up in the Rangers' bullpen, a move that could become official as soon as Thursday. Here he is striking out two hitters Wednesday. Video by Jeff Wilson.
Right-hander Alexi Ogando threw 90 pitches Wednesday afternoon against the Dodgers' Triple A team, and afterward said the he knows that he's likely going to open the season in the Rangers' bullpen.
Ogando would rather start, but he said he will do whatever is asked of him. He is likely to fill a role similar to the one he held down in the postseason last year, when he was a dominant multi-inning reliever in the first two rounds. He struggled some in the World Series.
"I wasn't anticipating it [during the off-season], but now that I've come to camp, I know what they want me to do," Ogando said. "Whatever they want me to do, I'm a team player."
Manager Ron Washington said that the Rangers will likely set their rotation Thursday or Friday depending on how Neftali Feliz feels after his bullpen session Thursday. The right-hander, who has been dealing with shoulder tightness, threw 68 pitches over four innings Tuesday night in a minor-league game and said his arm feels better.
There initially was some concern that he might not be well after his first two innings, but after a visit with pitching coach Mike Maddux between innings, Feliz returned to the mound with much more purpose and velocity.
Colby Lewis will likely be the Opening Day starter. He said that he was told before spring camp to prepare for that role. Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish and Feliz are expected to follow.
The Rangers will face their Surprise Recreation Complex neighbors tonight, as they take on the Kansas City Royals.
Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton are the two notables not in the Rangers' lineup, as Andrus has a tight right hip flexor and Hamilton was given a day off. Here's how the teams stack up for tonight's game:
Texas Rangers: 1. Ian Kinsler, 2B; 2. Craig Gentry, CF; 3. Michael Young, 1B; 4. Adrian Beltre, 3B; 5. Nelson Cruz, RF; 6. Mike Napoli, DH; 7. David Murphy, LF; 8. Yorvit Torrealba, C; 9. Alberto Gonzalez, SS.
Pitchers -- LHP Derek Holland, RHP Mike Adams, RHP Mark Lowe.
Kansas City Royals: 1. Alex Gordon, LF; 2. Jason Bourgeois, RF; 3. Eric Hosmer, 1B; 4. Billy Butler, DH; 5. Lorenzo Cain, CF; 6. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS; 7. Mike Moustakas, 3B; 8. Brayan Pena, C; 9. Chris Getz, 2B.
Pitchers -- RHP Luke Hochevar, RHP Greg Holland, LHP Jose Mijares, RHP Kelvin Herrera, LHP Tommy Hottovy, RHP Jonathan Broxton.
Josh Hamilton is off for tonight's game versus the Kansas City Royals. He is expected to start two of the final four games in center field, manager Ron Washington said.
Hamilton said he doesn't have a preference in playing center or left, but said it's easier to make the switch from center-to-left rather than left-to-center.
Craig Gentry gets the start in center tonight. Washington would like to see Gentry reach base and run. Gentry hasn't gotten consistent playing time because of minor injuries including hamstring, wrist and light-headedness.
Here are a few other notes from Wednesday:
* If Neftali Feliz throws a successful bullpen on Thursday, the Rangers will officially move Alexi Ogando into a relief role. Washington said Ogando is a special weapon out of the bullpen, throwing multiple innings or being a power arm late in the game.
* Elvis Andrus, who left Tuesday's game with a tight right hip flexor, is off today. He is expected to return to the lineup Thursday.
This video comes from late Tuesday, when Neftali Feliz took the mound in a minor-league game against Kansas City's Double A team. It was his first appearance since March 20 against the Cubs, a game in which he felt tightness in his right shoulder. Video by Jeff Wilson.
Rangers right-hander Neftali Feliz declared that his right shoulder is healthy and that he'll be ready for the regular season after tossing four innings Monday night against the Royals' Double A team.
Feliz touched 96 mph while allowing three runs (one earned) on six hits. He walked one and struck out three while throwing 68 pitches/41 strikes. He's likely to pitch again Sunday in the Rangers' Cactus League finale.
Pitching coach Mike Maddux said that Feliz got better as the game went along. Feliz said that his goal, besides emerging healthy, was to keep his pitches down in the strike zone.
"I feel good, and my arm feels good," he said. "I feel like I'm ready for the season."
Colby Lewis, Joe Nathan and Tanner Scheppers also worked against Royals minor leaguers.
Lewis dominated in a Triple A game, allowing only three hits in six scoreless innings. He walked two and struck out six while throwing 98 pitches. Aside from residual respiratory issues related to an early-spring illness, Lewis said that he feels fine.
"I felt like I threw the ball in and out, and my off-speed pitches were good," said Lewis, who will likely be the Rangers' starter on Opening Day. "My changeup was especially good."
Nathan blew through his one inning in the Double A game, working a 1-2-3 frame with two strikeouts. He needed only 11 pitches, nine of which were strikes. Nathan said that he has shortened his stride toward home his past two outings so that he can get back to his strength, throwing downhill.
He also completed working in back-to-back games for the first time this spring.
"To be honest, I felt stronger and stronger with each one," he said. "It tells me my arm is coming back and is able to bounce back."
Scheppers allowed two hits in a scoreless inning of the Double A game.
SURPRISE, Ariz. — Mike Napoli hit his first two homers of the spring, and Ian Kinsler went 3 for 3 and scored three runs as the Rangers won a second straight game at Surprise Stadium, 10-9 over San Diego on Tuesday.
Michael Kirkman had the best day on the mound for the Rangers as he continues to complete for a spot in the bullpen. He tossed two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk, after Yoshinori Tateyama had been tagged for four runs in two innings.
The Padres swatted three homers off Tateyama, who said that his fastball was down in velocity. Manager Ron Washington, though, said that he liked the way Tateyama continued to battled and turn in his work.
Robbie Ross allowed his first runs of the spring. He issued two in two innings as the Rangers' starter. He continues to be a strong candidate for the left-handed relief job. Kirkman and Neil Cotts, who had a scoreless eighth inning, are also candidates.
Napoli said that he still dealing with bouts at the plate where his timing isn’t right and he isn’t able to made solid contact. He felt good, though, against Cory Luebke, who surrendered homers to Napoli in the second and fourth inning.
“I had a good day today, but I need to start repeating my at-bats and be able to square up some balls,” said Napoli, who is hitting .320 this spring. “I go up there one time and feel good, and the next time I don’t feel the greatest.”
Kinsler was a pest at the plate and on the bases, and is leading a two-game renaissance by the offense after a hitters meeting Monday. The main topic was to start doing whatever the game asks.
Kinsler took it to heart. He had a stolen base and also scored from third on a grounder to third, running after third baseman Jedd Gyorko threw across the diamond.
“I’ll probably have sore legs tomorrow,” Kinsler said. “It’s time to get into playing your style of baseball. You can only play station to station and not get in the flow of the game for so long.”
The winning run scored on a wild pitch in the ninth inning after Joey Butler had tied the game with a one-out triple. The Rangers led 8-7 entering the last inning, but minor-leaguer Johan Yan issued two unearned runs.
Shorstop Elvis Andrus left the game after the second inning with tightness in his right hip flexor. Manager Ron Washington said that it's a minor injury and that Andrus should be back Thursday after a day off Wednesday.