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03/04/11 3:36 PM ET

Stiff back slows Rangers prospect Scheppers

PHOENIX -- Rangers pitching prospect Tanner Scheppers was underwent an MRI exam on his stiff back Friday.

Dr. Keith Meister will read Scheppers' MRI and evaluate Tanner Saturday morning.

Scheppers, who allowed four runs on five hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning on Thursday against the Cubs in Mesa, later complained of the back problem. He was scheduled to pitch three innings.

"It's still pretty sore," Scheppers said Friday morning.

The club has high hopes for Scheppers. He began the 2010 season pitching in relief in Double-A, and was promoted to Triple-A after 11 innings. He posted a 1.13 ERA over his first seven appearances out of the bullpen in Oklahoma City.

"I went out there and I wasn't feeling the greatest, and on my third pitch, I felt something in my back," Scheppers said. "I tried to pitch through it, and it might not have been the smartest idea. I'm trying to get healthy and we'll see what happens."

Rangers' Wilson sticks to game plan

PHOENIX -- Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux likes what he has seen from the club's starters so far this spring. He just wants to see more of it.

"I've seen some good things out there, but I've seen some things that we need to work on. But that's why we are here," Maddux said. "From what I have seen from most of the guys ... they know what they can do, they know what their strengths are and what they need to work on."

Exhibit A: C.J. Wilson.

On Friday against Oakland, Wilson had a plan and he stuck with it. The left-hander threw fastballs and changeups in the first inning. In the second, he threw sinkers and curveballs. In his final inning, he threw curveballs, changeups and finished with fastballs.

Wilson said he has tweaked his changeup, and is hoping to make it a strikeout pitch.

"I'm always trying to improve," Wilson said. "I'm never satisfied with good. I want to be rad."

In three innings of work, Wilson gave up five hits and three earned runs, including a three-run home run by Kevin Kouzmanoff in the first inning. He walked two batters and struck out one to lift his ERA to 7.20. He faced 16 hitters in the 56-pitch outing.

"I feel like my slider and my cutter are my two best offspeed pitches, so I put them in the back pocket for now and I tried to work on my curveball and my changeup," Wilson said. "In the third inning, I tried to throw a curveball for a strike and pitch backwards a little bit. In game situations and games that count, I would have pitched a little bit differently, especially against a rival."

It's been a productive spring for Texas starters. Overall, Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison combined to give up only three earned runs in 12 innings before Wilson's outing Friday.

"Guys are keeping the ball in play," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I think they've done a great job of handling the lower part of the strike zone. I think they've [mixed] in their other pitches and I think they've done a great job with the tempo in which they are pitching. I am very pleased with how they are attacking the hitters."

As for Wilson, he retired Oakland outfielder David DeJesus to start the bottom of the first inning, but Kurt Suzuki followed with a double. He walked Hideki Matsui on four consecutive pitches with two outs, and Kouzmanoff followed with a home run on the second pitch he saw from Wilson.

"He attacked the strike zone and Kouzmanoff caught him early with a fastball, but the next time Kouzmanoff came up, he went to his sinker," Washington said. "He made adjustments when he had to make adjustments. ... He was out there to get his work and C.J. did."

Hamilton not concerned by slow start

PHOENIX -- Don't be fooled by Josh Hamilton's low batting average this spring. The reigning American League Most Valuable Player said he's on track for another successful season.

Hamilton, who is hitting .111, went 0-for-2 Thursday against the Cubs, but said he hit the ball hard twice.

"It's going good," Hamilton said. "Spring is supposed to be about getting your timing down, and I feel like yesterday was the first day it felt really good. ... I feel like I am where I need to be at this moment."

Hamilton is 1-for-9 with one strikeout in four Cactus League games, and the Rangers outfielder said that it usually takes him two to three at-bats per game for about two weeks to perfect his timing in the batter's box.

"The guys are making fun of me because I've been swinging at the first pitch a lot, but I said, 'Dude, if they are going to throw it down the middle, I am going to swing at it,'" Hamilton said.

Rangers manager Ron Washington said he is not worried. He theorizes that it usually takes a hitter about 100 at-bats to feel comfortable at the plate.

"Once you get into the season, two things happen: You get off good or you get off bad," Washington said. "If you get off bad, you have to make up for that. If you get off good, there will be a time when things don't go right and you have something to fall back on."

Hamilton, who was given the day off Friday, expects to be back in the lineup Saturday against the D-backs in Scottsdale.

"He's 1-for-9 on March 4. That's not important," Washington said. "We know that pretty soon Josh will be locked in."

Worth noting

Catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who has been slowed by a sore back since Tuesday, should be in the lineup for Saturday's game against the D-backs in Scottsdale. ... Adrian Beltre (right calf strain) continues his rehab and it is unclear when he will appear in a Cactus League game. Rangers manager Ron Washington said he expects a veteran of Beltre's caliber to need only a few weeks of activity in Spring Training to get ready for the season. ... Outfielder Craig Gentry (broken right wrist) is nearing full strength and Miguel De Los Santos (biceps tendinitis) threw live batting practice Friday.

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.