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03/30/10 9:12 PM ET

Eyre maintains perfect spring ERA

Righty trying to nail down last spot in Rangers' bullpen

TUCSON, Ariz. -- One might look at Willie Eyre's statistics this spring and come to the conclusion that he belongs on a Major League pitching staff.

"I agree," Eyre said after earning a save in Tuesday's 4-2 victory over the D-backs. "I concur."

Eyre has pitched in seven games and not allowed an earned run. He has gone 7 1/3 innings and given up one unearned run on six hits, three walks and eight strikeouts.

"I think I've come out and thrown well," Eyre said. "My arm feels good, my body feels good. I don't know if I could have done much more. I've definitely pushed their hand."

The Rangers haven't announced who will get the last spot in the bullpen, but it will come down to Doug Mathis and Eyre. The other will likely end up in Triple-A.

"We know Willie is a Major League pitcher," manager Ron Washington said. "We haven't made a decision on that spot."

O'Day throws off mound pain-free

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Darren O'Day took another step toward being ready for Opening Day by throwing off a mound in the bullpen without any pain Tuesday. The next step is to pitch in a Minor League game.

O'Day hasn't pitched in a Cactus League game since March 15 because of a bone bruise in the back of his right elbow that has caused some inflammation.

The plan is for O'Day to pitch in a Minor League game on Wednesday and at least one more game this weekend in Arlington. If he does that, he could be ready for Opening Day and step into his role as one of the Rangers' setup relievers.

That is one of two spots in the bullpen still undecided. Doug Mathis and Willie Eyre are competing for the other spot, but both could make it if O'Day is not ready for Opening Day.

"We'll know more after tomorrow," pitching coach Mike Maddux said.

Searching for help at first?

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Rangers have still made no decision on what they are going to do for a backup right-handed-hitting first baseman. That is the last spot on the bench still up for grabs.

Matt Brown is the leading in-house candidate. Brown, who can play first and third, is hitting .273 (9-for-33) with two home runs and eight RBI in 20 games. He can also play third base.

Max Ramirez is a second internal candidate who can also catch. He is hitting .222 (6-for-27) with no home runs and three RBI in 19 games. But his defense at first base is still in question.

Two candidates have become available on the open market. The Cubs have released Kevin Millar and the Mariners have let go Ryan Garko. Rangers officials have indicated they will consider all possibilities but are not thrilled with the available alternatives.

Millar was 8-for-33 (.242) with a home run and three RBI for the Cubs but the Rangers do not seem interested. They had interest last summer in Garko, who was 9-for-41 with a home run and four RBI for the Mariners this spring. The Rangers interest may be mild at best.

Pitchers get work in under the lights

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Rangers had four significant pitchers work Minor League games on Tuesday night in Surprise against the Royals Minor League teams.

• Doug Mathis pitched five shutout innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City, allowing two hits, a walk and a hit batsman while striking out seven. Mathis, a strong candidate for the Rangers bullpen, threw 76 pitches.

• Dustin Nippert threw three scoreless innings for Double-A Frisco. He allowed two hits and struck out three while throwing 35 pitches.

• Darren Oliver threw a scoreless inning for Oklahoma City and allowed only a hit batsman.

• Neftali Feliz, pitching for Frisco, also pitched a scoreless inning, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out three.

Lewis contributes at plate, on hill

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Colby Lewis had an RBI single in the fifth inning of the Rangers' 4-2 victory over the D-backs on Tuesday.

That should be no surprise. They don't use a designated hitter in Japan's Central League, so Lewis had to swing the bat for two years while pitching for the Hiroshima Carp. He hit five home runs in two seasons.

"I was excited, my first at-bats since last year," Lewis said. "I enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun."

Lewis grounded out in his first at-bat, then came up in the fifth after Esteban German doubled and went to third on Joaquin Arias' fly ball. Lewis, facing Danny Haren, lined a single back up the middle.

Lewis also dropped a sacrifice bunt in the seventh after a leadoff single by Arias.. Arias went to second and scored on a two-out single by David Murphy.

On the mound: By the way, Lewis made his last Cactus League start, allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. He allowed the two runs in the eighth inning before Chris Ray came in and snuffed out the rally.

In his last three outings -- two in the Cactus League and one a Minor League game -- Lewis pitched 18 1/3 innings and allowed six runs on 18 hits, two walks and 20 strikeouts.

His first start will be on April 9 against the Mariners. His next outing will likely be a simulated game on Sunday at the Ballpark in Arlington.

"I'm getting through my innings and getting my pitch counts down," Lewis said. "That's what you want you want. I've thrown all my pitches for strikes."

Mendoza looks to showcase stuff

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Luis Mendoza will start on Thursday against the Reds in Goodyear, Ariz. That's the Rangers' last game in Arizona and could be a showcase for Mendoza. He's not expected to make the team and is out of options. That means he can't be sent to the Minors without clearing waivers.

Tidbits: The Cubs have released first baseman Kevin Millar. The Rangers are looking for a right-handed-hitting first baseman, but club officials said they have no interest in Millar. ... The Rangers have hit just two home runs in their past seven games. They have hit multiple home runs in just three of 26 games. ... The Rangers are 9-1-1 in their past 11 games played in Tucson.

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