SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers are looking for a right-handed bat who can play the outfield after releasing Conor Jackson on Monday. Jackson was released after going 3-for-33 in Spring Training."We just don't have room for him," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He needs to get at-bats and play. It's getting down to the nitty-gritty and we didn't have a spot for him." Three of the Rangers' top five outfielders are left-handed hitters: Josh Hamilton, David Murphy and Julio Borbon. Craig Gentry and Nelson Cruz hit right-handed, and those five could all make the Opening Day roster. But Gentry has not had a good spring, he is 3-for-24 at the plate and he he is currently sidelined with a virus. The Rangers are considering all of their options.
"We're looking for whatever comes available that can help," Washington said. "We're looking for whatever weakness we can fill. If we can't fill it inside, we'll look outside. Clubs are always talking."Right now, the Rangers' best right-handed-hitting alternative is Brandon Snyder. A former No. 1 Draft pick acquired from the Orioles in the offseason, Snyder can play multiple positions. He has played mostly first base in his Minor League career but entered professional baseball as a catcher and has played third base. The Rangers have also worked him out in the outfield. Snyder is hitting .261 (6-for-23) with five walks, a home run and seven RBIs in 18 games this spring. He was 3-for-13 with a double in six games for the Orioles last season while spending most of his time at Triple-A.
Rangers cut down left-handed candidates
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers released left-handed relievers Mitch Stetter and Joe Beimel on Monday, leaving Robbie Ross, Michael Kirkman and Neal Cotts as the primary candidates for that role in the bullpen. Stetter had a 5.40 ERA this spring, while Beimel had a 4.50 ERA."We just feel like we have guys here who we want to give that opportunity to," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. Ross, Kirkman and Cotts are all scheduled to pitch in Tuesday's Cactus League game against the Padres in Surprise. Kirkman had been the frontrunner for most of the camp but allowed four runs in the eighth and ninth innings on Sunday in a 6-5 loss to the Angels. "Yesterday, in the first inning, I left a ball over the middle of the plate and the guy hit a home run," Kirkman said. "The next inning, I felt I made good pitches and the balls found holes. At this point, I'm trying to stay on the same track. I'm throwing strikes, maybe I need to throw more quality strikes. I feel like I have been throwing good, the ball is just not bouncing my way." Said Washington, "Michael Kirkman is still here. We believe in Michael Kirkman. He's going to keep getting opportunities until we make a decision." Ross pitched two scoreless innings on Sunday and continues to be the most impressive young pitcher in camp. Cotts, who was signed at the beginning of camp and hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since 2009, continues to be a mystery. He has a 5.19 ERA and opponents are hitting .342 off him but the Rangers seem to see things in him they didn't in Beimel and Stetter. "We like what he has been doing," Washington said. "He's got a live arm and his stuff is getting better every time out."
Lewis, Feliz get Minor League games
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers decided to pitch Neftali Feliz in a Double-A game against the Royals on Tuesday rather than their Cactus League exhibition against the Padres."We can monitor him, meaning we can watch him and do whatever we need to do with him," Washington said. Feliz left after three scoreless innings against the Cubs on March 20 with tightness in his right shoulder. He was supposed to start on Sunday and was pushed back two days as a precaution. But he threw his bullpen session on Sunday without problem and should be ready on Tuesday. Feliz will pitch against the Royals' Double-A team. The game will be held on the Royals' side of the complex and will begin at 8:30 p.m. CT. Joe Nathan and Tanner Scheppers will also pitch in that game. Colby Lewis will get his work in that night. Instead of starting the Cactus League game, Lewis will pitch in the Triple-A game against the Royals.
Hawpe awaits Rangers' decision
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers released Conor Jackson on Monday but have made no decisions on Brad Hawpe. One reason why is they like what Hawpe is showing at the plate."That bat will play," manager Ron Washington said. "There is something in that bat." The problem is Hawpe, a former All-Star outfielder with the Rockies, is without a position. He had Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery on Aug. 5 and has not started throwing from the outfield. He can play first base, but the Rangers already have Mitch Moreland and Michael Young. Hawpe was a Major League free agent who signed a Minor League contract. His situation is governed by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which stipulates that the Rangers must make a decision on him by 11 a.m. CT Saturday. The Rangers have to place him on the 25-man roster or pay him a $100,000 retention bonus to send him to the Minors. The third option would be to release him. But Hawpe does not have the unilateral right to opt out of his contract if not placed on the 25-man roster. The Rangers could also attempt to work out an arrangement with Hawpe so that he remains behind in extended Spring Training while working up enough arm strength to play the outfield. "I feel I can play in the big leagues," Hawpe said. "If I can't play in the big leagues, we'll reevaluate it."
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.