LAS VEGAS -- Rookie left-hander Robbie Ross, who has emerged as a candidate for the bullpen, made his first start of the spring on Sunday against the Brewers in Phoenix and was roughed up. He lasted just 2 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on five hits. He also walked one and struck out one before Michael Kirkman took over."First I was up in the zone a little bit, and I had to get more comfortable and work down," Ross said. "Overall, it felt good coming out of my hand. Sometimes it's up and sometimes it's down. I felt good today. "I was just trying to attack the batters. I don't know any of these guys well enough to try to pitch around them in different ways. I thought, 'Why not go out and throw strikes and see what happens with the infield and outfield we've got?' It's a lot easier to pitch when you have guys behind you that can make plays." Ross entered the game having not allowed a run in four innings over four appearances. He had allowed three hits, not walked a batter and struck out six. Even though he has pitched just six games at the Double-A level, club officials are willing to consider him for a spot in the bullpen. "He was aggressive, went right after these guys," bullpen coach Andy Hawkins said. "He just didn't have the command that he had earlier in camp. I liked his approach and liked his attitude. He has a good head on his shoulders. "He recognized those guys at the plate today, but he didn't back off from them. He came right at them. I didn't see any intimidation, and I didn't see any fear. He just didn't quite have the command, or otherwise he would have had a pretty good time out there."
Holland, Harrison could give Texas 1-2 punch
LAS VEGAS -- Left-handers Derek Holland and Matt Harrison have been pitching back-to-back through the first half of Spring Training. That could continue the rest of the way and even into the regular season.Manager Ron Washington spoke earlier in camp about the possibility of splitting them, most likely by having right-hander Yu Darvish pitch between them. But he doesn't know when that will happen. "We have no plan for that right now," Washington said. "The only plan right now is to get them through Spring Training and get their innings. Before we get out of Spring Training, we'll let you know our intentions on our rotation. But I don't want to say something now and change it later."
If the rotation remains as is, the Rangers will open the season with Colby Lewis, Holland and Harrison pitching against the White Sox from April 6-8. That would have Darvish's first start on April 9, against the Mariners and outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. He would be followed by Neftali Feliz and then Lewis.Washington is not concerned about the possibility of his two left-handers pitching back-to-back. "They have good stuff with power," he said. "If they pitch well, it won't matter. Once the season begins, it won't be that big of a deal if we decide to change that."
Martinez steps in with Torrealba hurting
LAS VEGAS -- Mike Napoli is getting ready to start catching again, but now Yorvit Torrealba is showing up on the trainers' report.Torrealba was scratched from Sunday's game against the Cubs with stiffness in his lower back. He was replaced by Luis Martinez, who made his fourth start of the spring. The Rangers made the decision with the game-time temperature at 51 degrees and the wind blowing at 20 mph. "We're not taking any chances in this weather, so we decided to keep [Torrealba] out," manager Ron Washington said. Napoli has been dealing with a strained left groin muscle and hasn't started at catcher since March 8. But he has been used at designated hitter for three straight games in Arizona and is expected to start behind the plate on Monday against the Brewers. Martinez has played in 10 games, the most by any Rangers catcher. He went 1-for-2 on Sunday and is hitting .444 on the spring. "He has been doing a pretty good job," Washington said. "He's swinging the bat, receiving, blocking, throwing. ... He has some tools." Martinez was acquired from the Padres in the offseason for Minor League pitcher Ryan Kelly and is one of three candidates to be the starting catcher at Triple-A Round Rock. The others are Chris Robinson, a Minor League free agent who signed with the Rangers after three years as the Cubs' Triple-A catcher, and Dusty Brown, who has spent the past four seasons catching at Triple-A for the Pirates and Red Sox.
Outfielder David Murphy, who hit his second home run of the spring on Sunday against the Brewers, has reached base in 11 straight games. The Rangers have signed a sponsorship with a Japanese-based social media company called gloops. Manager Ron Washington on Matt Harrison: "Harrison is a quiet guy. You never know what he is thinking until you take him out of the game. Then he speaks up. You take him out of a ballgame he doesn't think he should come out of, and he speaks up." Washington on the Rangers' trip to Las Vegas: "I wouldn't say we needed it, but it was nice. The guys enjoyed themselves. The thing I was impressed with is [that] we still came out and played baseball." Craig Gentry returned to the lineup on Sunday afternoon after missing four games with a sprained left wrist. He went 0-for-2 with a foulout and a strikeout before the Phoenix game was rained out.
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.