SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Mike Napoli will be behind the plate on Thursday, when the Rangers play their first intrasquad game on Nolan Ryan Field.Napoli is still recovering from a high left ankle sprain that he sustained in Game 6 of the World Series, but he feels good enough to catch. Right now, he is only limited in his running. "The other day, I ran a little harder and it was feeling good," Napoli said. "I haven't busted full-out yet, and probably won't tomorrow, but everything is feeling good. We worked on our first and third defensive drills, and it felt good." Napoli will probably just catch three to four innings. Manager Ron Washington said his goal is to get his front-line position players a couple of at-bats before they come off the field. "I feel good, and I'm going to test it out," Napoli said.
Recovering Moreland ready for intrasquad
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers asked first baseman Mitch Moreland if he was ready to play in an intrasquad game. Moreland assured them that he is ready to go."It's not even a question," Moreland said. Moreland underwent surgery on his right wrist at the end of November. He had a small bone removed that was causing him pain and discomfort for much of the second half of last season.
So far this spring, Moreland has not had any problems or setbacks."He looks good," manager Ron Washington said. "He's certainly different from last year. I'm certain the hand was bothering him, but he is over it. He's hitting the ball to the opposite field with authority and concentrating on swinging at strikes." Moreland is still limiting the number of swings each day in camp. While the average hitter will get about 150 swings, right now Moreland is limited to 90. "I haven't reached my swing count for the day yet because I have been getting my work done," Moreland said.
Washington grooming pitchers to work inside
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux met with Alexi Ogando on Wednesday before his workout. One topic was the need to pitch inside.That has been another area of emphasis for Washington and his young pitchers this spring. Washington said Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish work effectively inside. He wants Ogando, Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz to do the same. "We've got all these power arms we've been throwing out there, and we need them to throw inside for strikes," Washington said. "Now that they've been through the wars, it's time to start perfecting it and start using every part of the plate." Pitching inside was big for Scott Feldman in 2009, when he won 17 games. That was the year he really developed a cut fastball to throw inside on left-handed hitters. Left-handed hitters went from batting .291 against him in 2008 to .226 in 2009. They hit .155 off him last year. "The main thing is it keeps left-handed hitters from sitting and diving out over the plate," Feldman said. By busting hitters hard inside with the fastball, it opens up the outer half of the plate for the offspeed stuff. "Speed the hitters up inside and slow them down outside," closer Joe Nathan said. "You get a lot of outs that way."
Darvish displays seven-pitch repertoire
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Catcher Mike Napoli counted seven. That is how many different pitches Yu Darvish threw during his third live batting practice session on Wednesday.Napoli saw a fastball, sinker, curve, slider, changeup, cut fastball and split-fingered fastball. That's pretty much the gamut of pitches, unless Darvish develops a screwball or knuckler. "Today was the first day I got to see everything," Napoli said. "He threw every pitch pretty good. He threw everything on both sides of the plate." A pitcher with seven different pitches is almost unheard of in baseball. C.J. Wilson had five pitches, and that was considered excessive. "Not too many guys have more than four pitches or use more than four pitches in a game," Napoli said. "The game will dictate what we do. He threw a couple of splitters and the bottom just dropped out. He knows how to manipulate the baseball."
The time for Thursday's intrasquad game has been changed to noon (MST), and the Rangers are scheduled to play eight innings. Sixteen pitchers are scheduled to throw. Joe Beimel, limited because of stiffness in his left elbow, is the only pitcher not scheduled to throw in one of the Rangers' two intrasquad games this week. He may return to pitching off a mound on Thursday in the bullpen. Shortstop Elvis Andrus remains day to day with a sore left heel. His condition is improving, but the Rangers aren't sure if he'll play in Thursday's intrasquad game. He should be ready for the Cactus League opener on Saturday. Colby Lewis will start for the home team in Thursday's intrasquad game and be followed by Mark Lowe, Greg Reynolds, Kelvin de la Cruz, Cody Eppley, Jacob Brigham, Roman Mendez and Justin Miller. The visiting team will start with Scott Feldman and follow with Michael Kirkman, Mitch Stetter, Sean Green, Robbie Ross, Miguel De Los Santos, Ben Snyder and Fabio Castillo. Yu Darvish will pitch for the visiting team in Friday's intrasquad game. Matt Harrison will start and will be followed by Alexi Ogando and Darvish. Mike Adams is also pitching for the visitors. The home team list of throwers includes Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz and Joe Nathan. Manager Ron Washington said Holland had an impressive batting practice session on Wednesday, keeping the ball down with movement.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.