3/27/2013 5:45 P.M. ET
Kirkman to get eighth-inning look in bullpen
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Rangers outscored their opponents, 85-58, in the eighth inning last year. That underscores the advantage they enjoyed with a setup relief group led by right-handers Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Alexi Ogando.
Adams and Uehara are gone, and Ogando is in the rotation. So the Rangers are looking at a new combination for that situation and it could be the two left-handers -- Michael Kirkman and Robbie Ross -- who could be asked to protect a one-run lead in the eighth inning on Sunday night in the season opener against the Astros.
"If that's the case, right out of the shoot, it would be Robbie Ross or Kirkman," manager Ron Washington said.
Jason Frasor is another option, but Kirkman has had the most impressive spring of any Rangers pitcher. He went into Wednesday's game against the Angels having not allowed a run or a walk in nine innings in Cactus League games. Ross, who came into camp as a rotation candidate, has also turned it up since being told he was going back to the bullpen.
The Rangers also briefly considered Kirkman for the rotation, but decided they want him in the back of their bullpen in front of closer Joe Nathan.
"Either way is a win-win," Kirkman said. "When I came into the spring, I never thought I would get a glimmer of a chance to be in the rotation. Whether I'm in the rotation or the bullpen, I'm still on the team. That was my ultimate goal."
Gentry, Martin to share Rangers' center-field duties
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry will share center-field duties for the Rangers this season. Manager Ron Washington just hasn't decided how they will share the position.
"Not yet," Washington said. "I can tell you both guys will play, but I'm not announcing any platoon."
A platoon would make sense since Martin bats left-handed and Gentry right-handed. But Washington isn't committing to that right now, although the Astros are starting right-hander Bud Norris in the season opener on Sunday night.
"It just depends," Washington said. "They are both playing well. That's the job I have to do, get them both playing time. I'm glad I'm in that situation where I've got two guys that can play."
Martin, who took a .339 batting average into Wednesday's game against the Angels, beat out Julio Borbon for the job and will be on the Opening Day roster for the first time in his career. Martin has played in 32 games at the Major League level over the past two years, hitting .204 (11-for-54) with five doubles and two triples.
"I feel great, now I have to go out and show what I can do," Martin said. "The most important thing for me is to help us make it to the World Series. I want to win, that's what I want to be all about. I have some other goals, but mainly you can break it down to staying healthy and playing hard."
Borbon waiting to find out his destination
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Rangers outfielder Julio Borbon showed up to the clubhouse on Wednesday, packed and dressed for the team flight back to Arlington, Texas. He is just waiting to hear what the Rangers are going to do with him.
"There are rumors going around," Borbon said. "Today I'm taking it one hour at a time, not one day at a time. We're coming down to the end. I'm not trying to look back, it's their decision and what's best for them."
Borbon hit .333 this spring, but the Rangers are going with Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry in center field. Since Borbon is out of options, he would have to clear waivers before being sent to the Minor Leagues. The Rangers don't expect him to clear waivers so general manager Jon Daniels is trying actively to trade him.
"I'm very happy ... I've got high hopes," Borbon said. "There is not a negative cell in my body. I have done everything I could; the situation is out of my hands. I'm just hanging on tight. That's all I can do until I am told otherwise."
Profar ready to see regular duty at Triple-A
TEMPE, Ariz. -- When Rangers infielder Leury Garcia was told he was on the Opening Day roster, Jurickson Profar was among the first to congratulate him. He did so even though Profar was the one who was told he was being sent to Triple-A Round Rock.
Garcia will be the Rangers' utility infielder and Profar, the No. 1 overall prospect in MLB.com's Top 100, will play shortstop every day at Round Rock.
"It's good for me," Profar said. "I can play every day and get better. I'm going to be facing a lot of veteran pitchers so I'm going to get better."
Garcia is a switch-hitter who can play shortstop, second base and center field. He also gives the Rangers speed off the bench. The problem is he is not going to get much playing time. Elvis Andrus had 610 of 645 at-bats by a Rangers shortstop in 2012, while Ian Kinsler had 601 of 676 at-bats by their second basemen.
"I have never been in this situation but I'll be ready," Garcia said. "I have to keep working and be ready to play. You never know when you're going to get your chance so you have to be ready to play when they want you. They gave me this opportunity, now I have to take advantage of it."
Reliever Robertson keeping his options open
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have asked veteran pitcher Nate Robertson to go to Triple-A. Robertson is inclined to do so, but will also look for a Major League job. The Rangers will not stand in his way if he can find one.
"Everybody has been first class to me," Robertson said. "I'll let my agent handle that. If there is an opportunity with another team, they'll help me. I have been encouraged by what they say. They like me and I had a good spring but they had to make a decision.
"I'm not a young buck. I would love to be a Ranger. It's obviously a team that wants to finish the job and win the World Series. That's why they were my first option and my first workout was with the Rangers. As soon as they offered a contract, I signed it. I didn't check to see what other teams were interested. I've got to weigh that with a chance to go somewhere else and further my career."
Robertson has made 187 Major League starts and 36 relief appearances in a 10-year career. But he hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2010 because of injuries, and came to camp having reinvented himself as a side-arming reliever. He went into Wednesday's game with the Angels with a 1.64 ERA for the spring, but the Rangers decided against adding him to the bullpen.
Right now, the bullpen consists of closer Joe Nathan, right-handers Derek Lowe and Jason Frasor and left-handers Michael Kirkman and Robbie Ross. That leaves two spots up for grabs between right-handers Josh Lindblom, Tanner Scheppers and Cory Burns, and left-hander Joe Ortiz. The Rangers might carry three of them for the first 10 days until fifth-starter Nick Tepesch is added to the roster on April 9.
McGuiness returns, Woods sent to Rockies
TEMPE, Ariz. -- In a Rule 5 wash, the Rangers sent pitcher Coty Woods back to the Rockies but picked up first baseman Chris McGuiness from the Indians. Both players were taken in the Rule 5 Draft in December, but did not make their team.
The Rangers expressed interest in working out a trade with the Rockies after Woods cleared waivers. But the Rockies wanted Woods back. Players taken in the Rule 5 Draft have to be added to the 25-man roster by Opening Day and kept there for the entire season. Otherwise they have to be offered back to their old team for $25,000.
"They wanted him back," manager Ron Washington said. "If he had stunk it up over here they probably wouldn't have wanted him back. But he threw the ball well, he really did."
Woods appeared in 10 games for the Rangers in Cactus League games and allowed three runs on 11 hits and three walks, while striking out 10. But the Rangers did not have a spot for him in the bullpen, especially after Derek Lowe made the team as a long reliever.
McGuiness didn't have a great spring for the Indians, hitting .195 (8-for-41) with zero home runs and one RBI. The Indians are set at first base anyway with Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds. McGuiness was at Double-A Frisco last season and hit .268 with 23 home runs and 77 RBIs over 123 games. He had a .366 on-base percentage and a .474 slugging percentage.
"I've said it before, I wish he wasn't a Rule 5," Indians manager Terry Francona said on Tuesday. "It's hard for a position player to skip Triple-A and come to the big leagues. It's not altogether fair to expect them to be able to put up numbers. There's so much to like about him."
• The Rangers will need to create at least two spots on the 40-man roster by Opening Day for infielder Jeff Baker and pitcher Derek Lowe. But they will not do it by putting either Colby Lewis or Joakim Soria on the 60-day disabled list. Both had major arm surgery last year but both are expected back before the end of May. They are both expected to begin throwing live batting practice by April 8.
• Catcher Eli Whiteside left camp for personal reasons but it is only temporary. He is expected to share the catching duties with Jose Felix at Triple-A Round Rock.
• Kirkman was supposed to start on Wednesday, but the Rangers backed him down in order to instead use him in relief against the Angels.
• The Rangers sent Minor League outfielder Desmond Henry to the Royals to complete an offseason trade for pitcher Tommy Hottovy.
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.