02/27/2013 7:10 PM ET
Berkman ready for first Cactus League action
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Lance Berkman will be in the lineup for the first time this spring when the Rangers host the Indians on Thursday in Surprise.
Berkman has not yet played in a Cactus League game because of a strained right calf muscle. He also came into camp still in the rehabilitation process after undergoing surgery to repair torn cartilage on his right knee on Sept. 11.
The calf injury was minor, and Berkman continues to build strength in his knee. With 32 games left in Spring Training, he has plenty of time to get ready for the season.
"You need some at-bats to get a gauge on where you are with your swing, so I'll find out tomorrow where I am as far as timing and bat speed," Berkman said.
Adrian Beltre remains sidelined with a strained right calf muscle, but the Rangers don't have a target for his first Cactus League game. He is taking batting practice, running the bases and taking ground balls but seems in no hurry to get in the lineup. One problem is that the weather remains cold in the morning and cool in the afternoon. Game-time temperature for Wednesday's game against the White Sox was 63 degrees.
"We've still been able to get our work in," manager Ron Washington said. "It's not so much the cold as the wind."
Spot secure, Ogando needs improvement
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Alexi Ogando has a spot waiting for him in the Rangers' rotation. General manager Jon Daniels said Ogando does not have to win a spot in the rotation or be in danger of being sent back to the bullpen.
"There has been no discussion of that," Daniels said flatly. "He is one of five."
That's what Ogando wants, but he also wants to get better. His first two outings in Spring Training have not been particularly crisp. After three runs in 1 1/3 innings in his first start last Friday against the Royals, Ogando allowed two runs in two innings against the White Sox on Wednesday at Camelback Ranch in an eventual 8-3 Rangers loss.
"Not a lot, but I felt a little better," Ogando said. "The ball was a little high. But overall I felt a little better than I did the last time I pitched. I feel good physically; I just don't have the command I want to have."
Ogando continues to focus on the throwing his changeup and locating his fastball inside on right-handers. That's his primary mission in Spring Training. The Rangers believe that he needs the changeup as a third pitch to be effective as a starter.
"It's a key pitch for me to have to dominate the hitters," Ogando said. "When I have my fastball [command], I have my changeup. But if I can't locate my fastball well and don't feel good with my fastball, my changeup doesn't come easy. Little by little my fastball gets better. If my fastball gets better, the changeup will come."
The two runs were unearned because of a throwing error by second baseman Leury Garcia. Ogando allowed three singles and two walks while striking out one.
"He got through two innings," manager Ron Washington said. "He had trouble with his command, but it was better. He's certainly not throwing as many strikes as he's capable of. Hopefully it will get much better the next time. We want to see execution. We know what Ogando has to offer. Right now he is not where he should be. The only way to get there is go out and compete."
Gentry, E. Beltre slowed by injuries
Glendale, Ariz. -- Rangers outfielder Craig Gentry was scratched from Wednesday's lineup against the White Sox with a tight left hamstring. He is listed as a day-to-day.
"It's a little sore, but not bad," Gentry said. "I just need a day. We've got a lot going on in Spring Training. We start at eight o'clock in the morning and go through the game. It's just kind of built up."
Outfielder Engel Beltre remains sidelined with a strained muscle in the back of his left throwing shoulder. Beltre was examined by an orthopedist and no structural damage was discovered. More tests may be needed and it's still unknown if he'll still play for Team Spain in the World Baseball Classic.
"We have notified Major League Baseball as far the World Baseball Classic," Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "We're officially in a gray area whether or not he'll play in the World Baseball Classic."
• Country music legend Charley Pride gave his annual clubhouse concert on Wednesday morning. Pride has been working out with the Rangers for much of the spring.
• Rangers longtime clubhouse assistant Dave Bales has left camp to serve as the equipment manager for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.
• Washington on being 0-5-1 after six games: "If we were 0-5 after March 31, I'd be having heart attacks. Right now, we're putting guys out there, some are throwing good innings and some are throwing bad innings. I'm not getting upset about 0-5 in Spring Training."
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.