3/7/2013 8:26 P.M. ET
Rangers break out bats after spring dry spell
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Rangers entered Thursday's game with 62 runs scored over 12 games. That was tied for the fourth fewest in the Cactus League, but they put up 11 runs on 12 hits in a tie with the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. The Rangers' .268 average had been the fourth lowest of the 15 teams that train in Arizona, and their .447 slugging percentage was the sixth lowest before their largest output of the spring.
The big blows for the Rangers were a pair of two-run home runs by third baseman Adrian Beltre and backup catcher Konrad Schmidt. It was Beltre's first home run of the spring. This was only his third Cactus League game after missing time with a strained right calf muscle.
"We're working to get our swings ready for the season, not putting up big numbers in Spring Training," Beltre said. "With the young kids, it's different, they're trying to make the team. The rest of us are trying to get in our comfort zone and get ready for the season."
Jeff Baker and Leonys Martin are trying to make the team and are headed in the right direction. Baker went 2-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored as the Rangers' designated hitter. He is now hitting .417 for the spring as he tries to win a job as a right-handed pinch-hitter off the bench.
Martin, trying to win a job as the everyday center fielder, was 1-for-2 with three RBIs. He had a two-run single and a sacrifice fly, and is hitting .391. He was back in the lineup on Thursday with no problems after sitting out Wednesday with a tight left hamstring.
Texas has no set role for Lowe, with 'pen in flux
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said he has no predetermined bullpen role in mind for pitcher Derek Lowe, who agreed to a Minor League contract on Wednesday and is expected to join the Rangers on Friday.
That may be because there are multiple roles still unclaimed in the Rangers' bullpen.
"His first role is to come in here and see where he is," Washington said. "He'll throw a bullpen and then get ready for live batting practices and games. He'll create a role for himself if he makes the club. Right now we'll see where he is and what he is capable of doing, and then we'll assess it."
The Rangers are still sorting through what they have in their bullpen, a process that will likely take all spring. Lowe, 39, may be late to camp, but it may not take him long to catch up with the competition. Joe Nathan and Jason Frasor are the two veterans of the bullpen and have each made just two appearances in Cactus League games.
Tanner Scheppers and Yoshinori Tateyama, who pitched for the Rangers last year, have appeared in just one game while dealing with minor physical issues. Both were able to pitch a scoreless inning in a B game on Wednesday and are expected to graduate back into the Cactus League this weekend.
Some other key right-handed bullpen candidates continue to struggle. Josh Lindblom pitched the ninth inning against the Dodgers on Thursday and gave up a game-tying three-run home run to Matt Angle. He now has an 8.44 ERA this spring, and opponents are 9-for-23 off him. He did strike out three of six hitters.
Evan Meek allowed three runs on four hits while getting just two outs in the seventh inning. He has a 13.50 ERA, while opponents are 11-for-28 off him this spring.
"There is a lot of time left," Washington said. "They'll get it together.
Lowe, who has been both a starter and a reliever in his career, can fill multiple roles in the bullpen. He made 17 relief appearances for the Yankees last season and pitched at least two innings in six of those outings. In his first outing with the Yankees after being released by the Indians, Lowe picked up a save against the Rangers on Aug. 13 by pitching four scoreless innings in an 8-2 victory at Yankee Stadium.
That's what long relievers do, and the Rangers haven't yet identified someone to replace Scott Feldman. He served as both a long/middle reliever and a spot starter for the Rangers this past season. Lowe might be that candidate, but he could also be pushed into a late-inning setup role to accompany Frasor.
Southpaw Ortiz showing right stuff this spring
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Left-handed reliever Joe Ortiz continues to be an early bright spot for the Rangers. He retired three straight hitters in the sixth inning on Thursday in the Rangers' 11-11 tie with the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch.
All three were on grounders, and all three were against right-handed hitters. Ortiz held left-handed hitters to a .196 batting average at Triple-A Round Rock last season while right-handers hit .254. He has to show he can get right-handed hitters out with his sinker and changeup. He has a tough slider that can lock up left-handed hitters.
"I know that's what they want to see from me, getting right-handed hitters," Ortiz said. "I got them out at Round Rock, and I can do it here. I feel I can make this team. I like what I have been able to do at this point. I just have to continue doing the job."
Ortiz has not allowed a run in five innings of work. He has allowed two hits and not walked a batter while striking out five.
"All I know is I'm seeing good results," manager Ron Washington said. "He has been getting everybody out -- left, right, he has been getting outs."
• Infielder Mike Olt was back in camp one day after having a wisdom tooth extracted, but he did not travel with the team to Glendale. The Rangers gave him Thursday off but expect him to be ready to play Friday against the Brewers.
• Craig Gentry was hit twice with pitches during Thursday's game against the Dodgers but came away without any problems. One pitch got him in the arm and another in the back, but both hit muscle rather than bone.
• Thursday was only the third time in 13 contests that the Rangers have hit at least two home runs in a game.
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.