3/6/2013 5:35 P.M. ET
Lefty relievers impressive early in camp
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said the club won't let any bullpen needs stand in the way of Robbie Ross making the starting rotation. Washington said Ross will be in the rotation if he is one of the five best starters and the Rangers will figure out after that what to do about the bullpen.
"We are going to put a bullpen together," Washington said. "If Robbie takes the fifth spot, somebody has to take the bullpen spot. We are going to put the best guys out there and fill the holes. We're going to be filling holes all year."
Ross, who allowed one run in four innings against the Cubs on Wednesday, was the Rangers' primary left-handed setup reliever last season. So far the candidates to replace him in that role have started out well. Most notable is Michael Kirkman, who has pitched four scoreless innings, allowed two hits and struck out six. His next outing is Friday against the Brewers.
But other left-handers have pitched well. Jeff Beliveau started the "B" game against the Cubs on Wednesday and pitched a scoreless inning, striking out one. He has also pitched three scoreless innings in Cactus League games and is scheduled to start Friday against the Brewers.
Joe Ortiz is scoreless in four innings and four appearances, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out five. He is scheduled to pitch Wednesday against the Dodgers. Nate Robertson has pitched three scoreless innings in his three appearances.
Olt, Martin pulled out of Rangers' lineup
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Mike Olt and Leonys Martin were both in Wednesday's original lineup against the Cubs but ended up being late scratches. Olt was taken out of the lineup because of an impacted wisdom tooth and spent the afternoon at the dentist's office.
Martin was scratched because of a tight left hamstring and is day-to-day. He has gotten off to a strong start this spring in his bid to be the Opening Day center fielder with eight hits, including two doubles, in his first 21 at-bats.
The Rangers also temporarily lost Engel Beltre from their outfield. Beltre has officially decided to join Spain and play in the World Baseball Classic. His status was in doubt because of a strained shoulder muscle, but Beltre finally decided he was strong enough to join the club.
Olt was supposed to start in right field for the first time this spring on Wednesday. He has been used there as a reserve for two games, but he'll get more chances out there while Nelson Cruz and Beltre are away at the World Baseball Classic. He played two games in the outfield for the Rangers last season and four at Double A Frisco.
"He's fitting in well out there," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We trust he can go out there and play. He'll be OK."
McClellan eyes trip to Vegas as starting point
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Kyle McClellan threw in the bullpen on Wednesday without any problems behind his right shoulder. The next step is to start throwing live practice.
McClellan, who has not thrown in a Cactus League game yet, still has time to make the team, but it's unclear if he can be a candidate for a spot in the rotation. He entered camp as a strong candidate, but that may no longer be the case after he was set back by soreness in the back of his shoulder.
"The timeline is getting short as far as getting him stretched out," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "I do think he'll have time to make the team but whether he's fully stretched to start, I don't know."
McClellan, who spent the past five seasons with the Cardinals, underwent surgery on July 10 to repair a torn labrum and split capsule in his right shoulder. The Rangers signed him to a Minor League contract in the offseason and he came into camp at full strength. But, after throwing a couple of live batting-practice sessions, he had to be shut down because of soreness in the muscles behind the shoulder.
He is only now getting back to full strength.
"I'm a lot better, night and day difference," McClellan said. "To me, the biggest thing is how I react the next day. I threw 150 feet long toss and no pain. I think I'm over the hump. I can tell day-to-day it's feeling quite a bit better."
The Rangers play in Las Vegas on March 15-16 and McLellan is tentatively planned to make that trip. The goal is to be able to pitch at least three innings in a game in Las Vegas. If he does that, he could build up to 5-6 innings in the final two weeks of Spring Training.
"I don't see many starters going more than five innings in Spring Training," McLellan said. "It depends on how they view me, but I could be ready."
Scheppers, Tateyama get back on mound in 'B' game
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-handed relief candidates Tanner Scheppers and Yoshinori Tateyama were back on the mound Wednesday after a lengthy layoff and both pitched a scoreless inning during the Rangers' 6-1 victory over the Cubs in a morning "B" game.
Scheppers has been dealing with a strained left hamstring and had not pitched in a game since Feb. 22. But he retired the side in order in the second inning on just 10 pitches and struck out one.
Tateyama was pitching in a game for the first time since Feb. 24. He has been sidelined with back stiffness, but he struck out two while walking one in the third inning.
Both Scheppers and Tateyama pitched for the Rangers in 2012. So did Wilmer Font, but his chances of winning a spot in the bullpen continue to wane because he has been dealing with biceps tendinitis. He threw in the bullpen on Wednesday but time is running short on him.
"I don't think we view on March 6 that anybody is out of time," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "But there is a sense of urgency that he needs to continue to progress and not have any setbacks."
• Pitcher Cody Buckel was one of four pitchers who were sent to the Minor Leagues on Wednesday. Buckel came into camp as a fifth-starter candidate. But he faced 15 hitters and allowed seven hits and five walks.
• The Rangers also sent pitchers Matt West, Roman Mendez and Yonata Ortega to Minor League camp. West is coming off Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery last Aug. 22 and is not expected to pitch this season. Mendez had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right elbow in November and has not appeared in a game this spring.
• Colby Lewis had a 40-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday.
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.