03/18/2013 8:52 PM ET
Lewis close to big step
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitcher Colby Lewis, trying to come back from flexor tendon surgery, could graduate to live batting practice before the Rangers leave Arizona. Lewis has been throwing off the mound in the bullpen and threw 41 pitches on Monday without a problem.
He will take three days off and throw another bullpen session on Friday. If that goes well, Lewis said he could start throwing live batting practice the following Tuesday. The Rangers break camp the next day after their game against the Angels.
"As long as I continue to feel good, it's a significant step," Lewis said. "I just don't want to go backward. But we got after it pretty good today."
Rangers starting pitchers come to camp ready to throw live batting practice and take six weeks to build up for the start of the season. The club might go slower with Lewis, but if he follows a similar schedule he could return at some point during May.
Lindblom, Meek zeroing in on roles in bullpen
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Veteran relievers Josh Lindblom and Evan Meek had nearly identical linescores over the weekend. Lindblom pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts against the Dodgers on Saturday, and Meek did the same against the Padres on Sunday. The only difference was Meek gave up a hit.
Overall, the report that was given to manager Ron Washington -- who was in Las Vegas -- was that both threw the ball well.
"Very encouraging," Washington said.
The Rangers are hoping one or both can step up as right-handed setup relievers and help solve their unsettled bullpen situation. Trying to identify the makeup of the Opening Day bullpen is the biggest issue in camp, and Lindblom and Meek both know it's time to show something.
"Really in every Spring Training, I've only been concerned with two things: if the ball feels good coming out of my hand and if I'm healthy," Lindblom said. "Early in the spring, you are working on things, but now is the time to lock in your focus and start replicating game situations, because on Opening Day you don't just flip the switch on."
Lindblom, who was acquired from the Phillies in the Michael Young trade, has made 101 relief appearances in the past two years and has a 3.31 ERA with opponents hitting .227 off him. Meek was an All-Star reliever for the Pirates in 2010, when he had a 2.14 ERA and opponents hit .185 off him. Two years of injuries curbed his effectiveness, so he signed a Minor League deal with the Rangers in the offseason.
He came to camp healthy, and now there are 10 days left before the Rangers leave town. The Rangers want to see something, and Meek believes he can show it.
"I'm right where I want to be," Meek said. "If you look at the overall picture of Spring Training, it's really a process. It's for pitchers and hitters. The more games you get into, you find your release point, you find your pitches and you find your consistency. Right now, it's more about staying consistent in my approach and letting my stuff continue to progress."
McClellan staying with Rangers
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A strained rib cage muscle is going to keep Kyle McClellan off the Major League roster, but it's not going to keep him out of the Rangers organization. McClellan, who is in camp on a Minor League contract, met with club officials on Monday and told them he will not exercise the "out" clause in his contract.
McClellan could have elected to become a free agent if he wasn't added to the Major League roster by March 22. Instead, he will remain with the Rangers and continue to do his rehab work at the Spring Training complex in Surprise.
"For me, it doesn't make any sense to take the out," McClellan said. "Here, you're in a structured environment with a medical staff that knows what it's doing and an organization that believes in you. It's just stressful for me because I was close. I was game-ready, that's the hard part. I feel like I let them down. They gave me a chance. A lot of teams didn't. I'm looking forward to giving them a return on their investment."
McClellan, who had shoulder surgery in July while with the Cardinals, came to camp as a candidate for both the rotation and the bullpen. He was set back by muscle soreness in his shoulder but pitched two scoreless innings in his Cactus League debut against the Brewers last week. That was encouraging, but McClellan also injured the lat muscle during the start.
McClelland didn't think the injury was serious, but the medical staff told him he needed to stop throwing for 3-4 weeks. That will require another 3-4 weeks to rebuild arm strength before he can pitch in a game.
"I wish I could say I could be back in 10 days," McClellan said. "But it's one of those things the doctors say if you push it, you could tear it."
Berkman starts at first base
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Lance Berkman started at first base on Monday night against the Royals. Berkman is coming off two knee surgeries from last season, and this is the first time he's played the field. Texas signed him to be its primary designated hitter, but he will see some action at first.
"He'll get some more games there, the number I can't tell you," manager Ron Washington said.
Berkman has played 761 games at first base and 997 games in the outfield during his career. Washington made it clear there are no plans for Berkman to play the outfield, even though it would add to the team's overall versatility. But the Rangers would at least like for him to be able to play first base on occasion, especially during their 10 Interleague road games at National League parks, where the designated hitter will not being used.
• Outfielder Leonys Martin left camp to return to Miami, where he has been granted his United States citizenship. Martin is originally from Cuba but left that country in 2010.
• Derek Holland said he is over his case of food poisoning and is scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game on Tuesday. He'll pitch for Triple-A Round Rock against San Diego's Triple-A team in Peoria. Holland said this stomach ailment is not related to the problem he had last summer that put him on the disabled list for a month.
• Washington on Ian Kinsler, who took a .154 batting average into Monday's game with the Royals: "This is Spring Training and he has been around for a while. I have no level of concern with him."
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.