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04/28/09 2:20 PM ET

Inbox: Will Holland make a start?

Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers fans' burning questions

With the way Derek Holland is pitching, how long until they try him as a starter?
-- Aaron M., University Place, Wash.

Holland threw 150 2/3 innings last year. If you put him in the big league rotation too soon, you run the risk of running him down with too many innings at the end of the season. But if you wait too long to move him from the bullpen, you run the risk of him not being "stretched out" to start. Those are the two schools of thought that the Rangers are debating. It also depends on how the other starters are doing, but Holland could be in the rotation by mid-May or June 1.

Clearly, this team needs a power right-handed setup arm. With trades not happening until a couple of months, do you think our internal choices of Pedro Strop or Thomas Diamond can handle the job?
-- Myles M., Plano, Texas

Agreed, the Rangers could use that kind of arm. But a tough side-arming right-hander similar to Chad Bradford isn't bad either, so the Darren O'Day experiment is certainly worth watching closely right now before looking to Oklahoma City.

I don't like what I see from Eddie Guardado so far. I know it is early, but do you think he can turn it around, or is he out of gas?
-- Robert J., Sacramento, Calif.

Guardado has never been overpowering. He relies on location and guile rather than power. Maintaining command often depends on regular work, but he's not going to get regular work unless he gets better command. That's the Catch-22 right now. But he's been far too successful to discard any time soon.

Where are the Rangers as far as signing Josh Hamilton to a long-term deal?
-- Kathy V., Arlington

The talks are continuing every few days or so. Word is that a deal is not dead, but it's not on the front-burner either.

Since reading that the Rangers dealt Kason Gabbard back to Boston, I've wanted to know if the reason for the deal was because Tom Hicks needed the cash or because the Rangers have several guys on the farm who they'd have called up over Gabbard when the big league club needed bullpen help.
-- Aaron R., Dallas

Gabbard did not like pitching in relief, and he made that clear. The Rangers had no room for him as a starter, so he was sent back to Boston. The "cash considerations" are negligible, hardly something that would affect a franchise's overall finances.

What are the Rangers thoughts about bringing in Pedro Martinez?
-- Jacob P., Wylie, Texas

Because of the amount of money Martinez wants, the Rangers are not getting involved.

Is it the mental part of baseball that sets it apart from football and basketball, in the sense that players drafted can make a difference immediately in basketball and football, but in baseball the development takes a little longer?
-- Jake L., Houston

Baseball relies on a much higher degree of skill rather than athletic talent. Not that the other sports don't require skill, just not to the same degree as baseball. Certainly, there are great athletes in baseball, but Nelson Cruz is a perfect example of a tremendous athlete who has needed much time to hone his skills.

Do you believe that in some instances, Ron Washington is pulling Jason Jennings too early in relief for C.J. Wilson? It appears at times that Jennings is mowing them down, only to have C.J. come in and put runners on the bases.
-- JoJo S., Frisco, Texas

Right now Jennings is averaging 26 pitches per outing. That's at the upper end of the spectrum for a setup reliever. The Rangers don't want to push that for a guy who has had two elbow operations in two years. It keeps coming back to getting more innings out of the starters. Matt Harrison gave them seven on Monday, and they were able to mix and match O'Day and Wilson in the eighth.

Is it common in the Majors that most managers mix and match their lineups from day to day, the way Texas does? Or do other organizations play their bench guys sparingly?
-- Kyle C., Tyler, Texas

Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa has used 15 lineups in his first 18 games. The Yankees have used five cleanup hitters. Lineups -- despite all the tedious stories written in Spring Training -- are rarely the same for an extended period of time because of factors that include injuries, slumps, platoons and the need to get reserves the necessary amount of playing time to stay sharp.

Has David Murphy fully recovered from his injuries after bouncing off Pudge Rodriguez in that disastrous play at home plate last year?
-- Bob J., Tulsa

From Murphy himself: "No. It's nothing to keep me off the field, but it bothers me a little from time to time. It hasn't made me lose a step with speed, and it's not something that will get worse, but it does bother me from time to time, yes."

Two years ago our bullpen was one of the best. If we were ahead in the seventh or eighth inning, a win was almost certain. What happened to that bullpen?
-- Jim B., Denton, Texas

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The 2007 bullpen had the third-lowest ERA, the most relief wins and was tied for the second-fewest blown saves. Let's see. ... Wilson and Frank Francisco are still here, Eric Gagne and Ron Mahay were traded in highly lauded deals, Akinori Otsuka and Joaquin Benoit aren't pitching because of major arm operations, and Jamey Wright was not re-signed.

I was wondering if you knew of any books that could teach about mechanics and pitch grips (things the scouts look at). I am hoping to further hone my knowledge of the game.
-- Jud B., Dallas

Nolan Ryan's "Pitcher's Bible" is available from Amazon.com. Former Rangers pitching coach Tom House has written several books, as have Tom Seaver and Randy Johnson. The Dead Sea Scrolls of baseball books is "Pitching in a Pinch," written by Christy Mathewson almost a century ago. It's not an instructional book, but it is quite fascinating.

With the big starts by Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler, what is the likelihood that we see Andrus leading off and Kinsler moving to the best batter's position, third in the order?
-- Jacob P. Hebron, Texas

Almost none. When a 20-year-old jumps from Double-A to the big leagues because of his defensive skill, the last thing you want is to put more pressure on him by sticking him at the top of the lineup.

What is wrong with Vicente Padilla? His velocity is down, and he isn't adjusting to that, and he is giving up homers on 90-mph high fastballs he shouldn't be throwing.
-- Ira B. Whitewright, Texas

The Rangers are presenting the theory that Padilla was dealing with a "dead arm" after a long spring. His velocity was back up in his last start, with readings of 96 mph.

Inquiring minds are dying to know -- what is Francisco's warmup music?
-- Lisa W. Dallas

Mambo Gaga. It's a combination of Haitian, Dominican and African music, according to Francisco, who selected the music himself.

Rudy Jaramillo does an excellent job, as everyone knows. ESPN has done a couple of segments on him, and he is now getting to be more well known. Does he have a relative that knows pitching as much as he knows hitting?
-- David A., Athens, Texas

No, but his son Justin is going for a Ph.D in neuroclinical psychology at Columbia after graduating from Cornell. Think that might help?

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.