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03/07/12 7:02 PM EST

Elvis showing confidence in fourth season

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus is off to a fine start offensively, but the statistics only tell part of the story. Manager Ron Washington has been impressed with the infielder's maturity this spring.

"After next year, he should be everything that everybody always thought he would be," Washington said. "He should have it all figured out. It takes about five years for a player to recognize who he is and how to stay within himself."

Entering his fourth season, Andrus has five hits in seven at-bats in three Cactus League games and has made every play on defense. He also walks with a quiet confidence in the clubhouse.

That was not always the case in previous years.

"When I first got to the big leagues [as a player] I had to go through growing pains, too. That's a part of teaching, and that's a part of the process," Washington said. "With a talent like that under my watch, I don't want to see him not understand how important he is to the club and how important his position is to the club, and to never take his abilities for granted. That's why I will always be on him so hard."

But make no mistake, showing Andrus "some love" is also part of Washington's plan.

"I'm going to be hard on him because he makes me be hard on him," the manager said. "I don't just do it to do it. I stay out of his way until he does something I don't like and then I'll let him know."

Prospect Olt expands skillset at first base

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Rangers third-base prospect Mike Olt made the first start of his professional career at first base on Wednesday against the Mariners, and should see plenty of action at the position during the next few weeks.

"I'm obviously more comfortable at third but my goal by the end of spring training is to be just as comfortable at first as I am at third," said Olt, the club's first-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. "I am working on the footwork around the bag and putting myself in a position to receive the ball. Being comfortable around the bag is something that will come with time."

Olt, ranked No. 43 on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list, hit .267 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs in 69 games for Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach last season. He also hit .349 with 13 home runs and 43 RBI in 27 games in the Arizona Fall League.

"He might feel a little uncomfortable at first but the more reps he gets over there, the more comfortable he will feel because he's a baseball player," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He'll make the transition but we are not going to forget he's a third baseman."

Hawpe taking it slow with sore hamstring

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Veteran Brad Hawpe, who has been slowed by a sore right hamstring, was ticketed to lead off and play first base in Thursday's "B" game against the White Sox in Surprise, Ariz.

Hawpe, who has been hitting in the batting cage daily, tested the hamstring with sprints Tuesday.

"I really didn't feel it at all running on it," Hawpe said. "When I get down to field ground balls and shuffling is the only time I really feel it right now."

Hawpe, who signed a Minor League deal with the Rangers in January, said he has not fallen behind despite missing the first few games of Cactus League play.

"He's been participating but it's been controlled," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

With stiff elbow, Beimel exercises caution

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Left-hander Joe Beimel, who has battled elbow stiffness, was scheduled to pitch in Thursday's game against the White Sox.

"I just want to be healthy enough to pitch and try to win a job," Beimel said. "It was something that I probably could have thrown through, but I'm getting a little older and trying to get a little smarter."

Beimel, 34, pitched in 35 games for the Pirates in 2011 and was 1-1 with a 5.33 ERA. He was sidelined from May 28 to July 15 with inflammation in his left elbow.

"I just wanted to take a little time and makes sure it wasn't something big that will cost me time later on in spring when it's really important," he said.

Worth noting

• Neftali Feliz is scheduled to start Thursday against the White Sox, but manager Ron Washington said he was more curious to see Yu Darvish pitch Wednesday for the first time. "I've seen Nefi. He started for us last spring. I know what Nefi can do," the manager said.

Darvish fanned three batters in two innings as the Rangers won, 6-2. • The Rangers signed right-handed pitchers John Meloan and Cody Evans to a Minor League contracts and sent them to Minor League camp.

Meloan, 27, went 1-3 with a 4.67 and five saves in 25 games for Oakland's Double-A Midland squad last season. He's pitched in 13 big league games with the Dodgers, Indians, and A's.

Evans, who has never pitched in the Major Leagues, is 30-44 with a 5.21 ERA in 193 games/69 starts in his Minor League career.

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.