02/10/2013 4:43 PM ET
Healthy McClellan out to earn spot on Texas' staff
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitcher Kyle McClellan is 100 percent healthy. He just needs to get all his muscles back into pitching shape after his battle with elbow and shoulder problems.
McClellan had to deal with pain in his shoulder for the past two years. It's why he pitched in just one game in the playoffs for the Cardinals in 2011, although the shoulder bothered him for much of the season. He made 16 appearances last year for St. Louis before going on the disabled list on May 18 with a strained right elbow.
But the problem was still the shoulder.
"I couldn't get my elbow above my shoulder," McClellan said. "The stress on the elbow was significant."
The problem was still evident when McClellan was close to coming off the disabled list in June. His mechanics were still out of whack and he was still feeling discomfort in his long-toss sessions. An MRI after the 2011 season showed only a minor tear in the labrum, but McClellan knew there was something wrong.
The doctors decided the only way to find out was through surgery. McClellan had the operation during the 2012 All-Star break and it was discovered that he had a "split" shoulder capsule in addition to some fraying of the labrum. The damaged capsule, which could not be detected through an MRI, was the source of McClellan's problems.
"I was relieved," McClellan said. "I knew something wasn't right and I wasn't able to fix it."
McClellan was not eligible for free agency this winter, but the Cardinals decided to release him rather than go to arbitration. The Rangers signed him to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
"It was not what I was hoping for," McClellan said. "I was hoping to finish out six years with the Cardinals. But it was nice to see other teams interested and Texas was one of the first to call."
McClellan spent five seasons as an integral member of St. Louis' bullpen, but was also 6-6 with a 4.21 ERA in 17 starts as a starter in 2011. Texas is going to give him a chance to win a job as the fifth starter.
"I've been asked for five years if I want to be a starter or a reliever," McClellan said. "My answer is I don't care. I didn't sign here hoping I would have a better chance of starting. I signed here because I felt it was a place my family would be more comfortable, there is an opportunity to win and it's an opportunity to reestablish myself. The biggest thing is showing I'm healthy and can I can be a contributing piece to a Major League team."
Versatile Snyder brings catcher's glove to camp
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Brandon Snyder arrived in camp carrying a catcher's glove on Sunday. Snyder wants to be prepared in case the Rangers ask him to catch.
"You never know, just in case," Snyder said. "I caught some [pitchers'] bullpens the other day. I'll wait for them to decide, but I'm prepared for anything."
Snyder played in 40 games for the Rangers last season and was used at first, third and both corner outfield spots. But he also learned to catch and caught one inning in a 21-8 loss to the Mariners on May 30. The Rangers only carry two catchers, but also like to have one utility player who can go behind the plate in an emergency.
Harrison, Berkman have plenty of incentives
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers won't mind having an extra $250,000 tacked on to their payroll at the end of the season. That's the bonus the Rangers will have to pay Matt Harrison if he wins the American League Cy Young Award. If Harrison gets an extra $250,000 bonus if he wins the Most Valuable Player Award, pulling off the same double that Justin Verlander did in 2011.
Harrison, who will make $5 million this season, agreed to a five-year, $55 million contract this offseason. The contract runs through 2017 with a club option for '18 at $13.25 million, or a $2 million buyout.
But the option automatically vests if Harrison pitches 600 innings in '15-17, including 200 innings in '17. The '18 contract also goes up by $500,000 each time Harrison pitches 200 innings in '13-17. Last season, Harrison pitched 213 innings, going 18-11 with a 3.29 ERA.
Lance Berkman was signed mainly to be the designated hitter, but has a clause in his contract that calls for a $100,000 bonus if he wins a Gold Glove. That might not be too realistic, but Berkman does get $150,000 if he is the Comeback Player of the Year.
More important to Berkman is the option in his contract. Berkman agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract with a club option for $12 million in '14 or a $1 million buyout. The option vests if he gets 550 plate appearances. Berkman also gets an extra $250,000 each this season for 450, 485, 520 and 550 plate appearances.
• Pitcher Michael Kirkman has agreed with the Rangers on his 2013 contract at a salary of $495,800.
• Pitcher Roman Mendez said he is almost completely recovered from a small fracture in the tip of his right elbow. He did not pitch after Sept. 1, but said he should be ready to at least throw in the bullpen when workouts officially begin Wednesday. Mendez, who injured the elbow making an awkward throw to first while fielding his position, is the No. 14 prospect in the organization, according to MLB.com.
• Neal Cotts was among the pitchers who did some light throwing on Sunday. He has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2009, but almost made the team out of camp in '12 before suffering a strained muscle in his left ribcage at the end of Spring Training. He is back trying to make the team again.
• Randy Wells, Justin Grimm, Nate Robertson, Collin Balester, Cody Buckel and Coty Woods were among the pitchers who did some light throwing Sunday at the complex.
• Position players don't officially report until Friday, but second baseman Ian Kinsler is among those expected to arrive early.
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.