Wilson appears on his way to starting job
Only severe need in bullpen stands in left-hander's way
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- C.J. Wilson doubled off the Giants' Barry Zito in the fifth inning on Monday afternoon, a line drive into the left-center gap between outfielders that rolled to the wall.Wilson could have easily raced to third, but ... "They don't want us to get hurt," Wilson said. "I thought about going to third. A triple would have been sweet, but it was just cool being out there on the bases." Getting hurt at this point would have been bad, not when Wilson is on the verge of fulfilling his Spring Training goal of making the Rangers' rotation. There is no official verdict yet, but Wilson's destiny continues to be pointed toward a starting job after his work against the Giants on Monday. "He continued what he's done this spring," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He has been very good. With few exceptions, you couldn't ask for anything more. On the whole, we've been pleased with his performance." Manager Ron Washington said that only a severe need in the bullpen stands between Wilson and the rotation. "That would be the only way," Washington said. "He's done a great job as a starter." Wilson overcame a rough first inning and made it through five in Texas' 6-5 loss to San Francisco at Scottsdale Stadium. He allowed three runs in the first inning but followed that with four scoreless frames and just two hits. He left with a 4-3 lead. "[Pitching coach Mike Maddux] was talking about it the other day," Wilson said. "You can have a rough inning, maybe the ball takes a bad hop, but it's how you finish up. I was a little erratic the first inning, I let a couple of pitches get away. After that it was pretty smooth. My delivery was good, I was working both sides of the plate, the ball was down and my changeup was working."
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Wilson admitted that he was a little too excited about the start, mainly because he was able to hit. He never had that chance as a reliever, but there he was, on the field before the game, taking batting practice."I had an amazing BP," he said. "I was really stoked." He needed some time to calm down, although he could have easily escaped the first inning allowing one or zero runs. His pitching day began by hitting Aaron Rowand, who likes to crowd the plate, with an 0-2 pitch. After Rowand stole second base, Edgar Renteria hit a line drive back to the mound right at Wilson, who almost caught the ball. If so, Rowand would have been doubled off. Instead Wilson fumbled and dropped the ball and had to settle for the out at first while Rowand went to third. After Mark DeRosa walked, Aubrey Huff grounded a single up the middle to send home Rowand. Bengie Molina's grounder to third moved the runners to second and third, and Juan Uribe followed with a fly ball to deep right. Vladimir Guerrero, in only his second start in right field, couldn't catch up with the ball, and it fell for a double on the warning track. But Wilson got Nate Schierholtz on a grounder to third to end the inning and retired 13 of the last 15 hitters he faced. "He had a rough first inning, but he pitched a heck of a game," Washington said. The Rangers will meet later this week to discuss their personnel, but when it comes to Wilson being in the rotation, there is almost nothing left to say. "We know which way we are leaning," Daniels said. "We'll probably meet later this week. We know the status of everybody on the club. We need to look at the full context of the bullpen and everybody else on the staff. [Wilson] has showed he's a legitimate option. We want to make sure we take some time and make the right decision."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.