SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Besides Leonys Martin, the Rangers sent five other players to the Minor Leagues on Saturday. Those cut included third baseman Mike Olt, the club's No. 3 prospect, and outfielder Engel Beltre.Olt, drafted as a third baseman, came to camp with the idea of learning to play first base, as well. He showed he could, and will continue to do both. Manager Ron Washington said Olt will get most of his playing time in the Minors at third base, but will still play first one or two times a week. "He's a baseball player," Washington said. "He can play third base, he has a good arm and tremendous raw power. He just need to go out and play." Beltre was sent down, but not before reestablishing himself as a prospect in the Rangers' farm system. Beltre was the Rangers' Minor League Player of the Year in 2010, but hit just .231 with a .285 on-base percentage and .300 slugging percentage at Double-A Frisco last year. This spring, he went 6-for-24 with two doubles, one triple and six RBIs. In two previous Spring Trainings with the Rangers, he went 1-for-23. "He has shown some maturity," Washington said. "His game is much better than it was the past two years. I think he's back to being a big part of the Texas Rangers. He handled himself well compared to the first two years. He wasn't overwhelmed. He felt he belonged." Beltre was one of three players acquired from the Red Sox on July 31, 2007 for reliever Eric Gagne. The others were David Murphy and Kason Gabbard. The Rangers also returned catcher Chris Robinson, infielder Greg Miclat and left-handed reliever Ben Snyder to the Minors. Robinson, who spent the past three years catching at Triple-A for the Cubs, went 4-for-12 at the plate and is considered an outstanding handler of pitchers. Miclat was briefly in the competition for utility infielder, but has never played above Double-A. Snyder was sent down despite throwing 5 1/3 scoreless innings in Cactus League play. He allowed one hit, did not walk a batter and struck out three. "He has done a great job," Washington said. "He just needs to go pitch. He has been successful in camp; he needs to carry that into the season, and maybe at some point during the season he can be a piece for us."
Feliz improving, will possibly pitch on Tuesday
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers are expressing optimism that right-hander Neftali Feliz could pitch in a game as early as Tuesday.The Rangers grew optimistic on Saturday after Feliz had no problems getting through his long-toss session. Feliz, who has been dealing with tightness in his right shoulder, felt good enough to throw lightly off a mound at the end of the session. Feliz threw 27 pitches at about "75-80" percent. "It was good," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "He felt good enough on flat ground to get on a mound. He felt good about himself. Everything clicked." The Rangers are now planning on Feliz throwing a full bullpen session on Sunday in Surprise. If that goes well, Feliz could pitch in a game on Tuesday against the Padres. "We'll see how it goes tomorrow," Maddux said. Feliz last pitched on March 20 against the Cubs. He threw three scoreless innings before leaving the game with tightness in the shoulder. He has been limited to throwing off flat ground since then. If Feliz can get back into a game on Tuesday, it should give him enough time to build up innings and be ready for the start of the season.
Martin no longer candidate for center field
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- One candidate dropped out of the center-field competition. The Rangers sent outfielder Leonys Martin, their No. 4 prospect, back to Triple-A Round Rock.Martin, who signed a five-year, $15.5 million contract with the Rangers out of Cuba on May 4 last year, was a long-shot candidate to make the team. He went 6-for-27 in 16 Cactus League games. "He just needs to play," manager Ron Washington said. "But we saw a 100 percent turnaround from what we saw last year. He has been very impressive with his baserunning, instincts, outfield play, all of that in the field. His offense is solid. The guy just needs to play." Martin played in 29 games at Double-A Frisco and 40 games at Round Rock after he signed with Rangers last year. He combined to hit .295 with four home runs, 16 doubles, five triples, 53 runs scored and 42 RBIs in 73 games. That includes four games in the Arizona Rookie League on a rehab assignment after he missed 19 days in June with soreness in his lower back. A switch-hitter, Martin went 3-for-8 in eight games for the Rangers when he was called up in September.
Washington respects Scioscia as manager
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Much is being made about the Rangers-Angels rivalry becoming as intense as the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. That doesn't extend to the managers.Bobby Valentine of the Red Sox and Joe Girardi of the Yankees have had some issues between them this spring. The only thing between Rangers manager Ron Washington and the Angels' Mike Scioscia is mutual respect. "I certainly do have great respect for him," Washington said of Scioscia. "We were both with the Dodgers and learned the game from the same people. Our styles are similar. We're both aggressive and do a lot of things that draw questions. But it comes down to knowing your personnel. Mike knows his personnel better than any manager in the Majors. "He's been at this thing a long time. He's won a world championship. I just hope one day I have the tenure he has and the success he's had. I have a lot of respect for Mike Scioscia."
Yu Darvish will pitch in an intrasquad scrimmage on Sunday morning in Surprise. The game begins at 10 a.m. MST in the main stadium. The gates will open at 9:30 a.m., and it's open to anybody who has a ticket to the Royals-Brewers game that afternoon. The Rangers are playing the Angels in Tempe on Sunday. Mark Hamburger, Robbie Ross, Sean Green, Yoshinori Tateyama, Michael Kirkman and Neal Cotts are all scheduled to pitch. Matt Harrison pitched in a Triple-A game against Omaha on Saturday and finished with six scoreless innings. He allowed two hits in the first inning, got out of it with a double play and then retired 15 straight hitters. Said Harrison, "The first inning was rough, I had trouble getting the ball down. After that, I just got into a groove and I was getting strikes down with all my pitches. I had them swinging and I was able to get some ground balls down in the zone." Saturday's game drew 11,261 fans and was a sellout.
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.