1/11/2014 5:48 P.M. ET
Scheppers ready for any role on Rangers' staff
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
FRISCO, Texas -- The Rangers have suggested there is a possibility reliever Tanner Scheppers could go into the starting rotation this season. There is also a possibility he could replace Joe Nathan as their closer.
"I want to do both," Scheppers said. "But it's not my decision to make that call. The people in that position will tell me what to do."
Scheppers was a big part of an outstanding bullpen in 2013. Serving as the Rangers' primary setup reliever, he pitched in 76 games and was 6-2 with a 1.88 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. Now that Nathan has signed with the Tigers, Scheppers is one of three candidates to serve as the Rangers' closer along with former All-Stars Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria.
The Rangers did not need another starter until earlier this week when Derek Holland tore cartilage in his left knee after falling down the stairs at his home. Holland underwent surgery on Friday and could be out until mid-season.
Nick Tepesch is the leading candidate to replace Holland, although the Rangers could sign somebody from outside the organization. The Rangers have re-signed Colby Lewis to a Minor League contract, but are also going to consider both Robbie Ross and Scheppers. Both were relievers last season, but have been told to come to camp prepared as a starter.
"I'm just going to go in there in the best shape of my life and be ready for whatever," Scheppers said.
Holland trying to stay positive after knee surgery
ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Derek Holland is hoping for a quick return after undergoing surgery on Friday to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.
Holland will be shut down for six weeks and the initial prognosis is he won't be back until mid-season. But that would seem a long recovery time for torn cartilage, especially considering Holland didn't tear any ligaments in the knee.
"I feel I could be back sooner, but I don't know, I've never had an injury like this," Holland said Saturday. "That seems like a long time, but I've never had this before, so I don't know what to expect."
Holland injured the knee falling on the stairs at his house.
"I was just playing with my dog and I was running up the steps and he came up from behind me and clipped me," Holland said. "I fell on the top step, but it could have been worse. I could have fallen all the way down the stairs and cracked my head open."
Instead Holland fell on his left knee and tore the cartilage. Dr. Keith Meister, who did the surgery, told Holland that he might have injured the knee a few years ago and didn't realize it.
"He said it just happened again," Holland said. "Who knows? It could have happened at anytime, I just happened to be playing with the dog."
Holland said he has spoken with team psychologist Don Kalkstein since the injury.
"I'm trying to stay positive and not get too down," Holland said.
Choice hoping he can contribute to Rangers in 2014
FRISCO, Texas -- When outfielder Michael Choice was acquired by the Rangers from Oakland earlier this winter, it appeared he had a chance to win a job as the starting left fielder.
That was on Dec. 3. However, that was also the day Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was in California meeting with agent Scott Boras to discuss free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. Three weeks later, the Rangers officially announced the signing of Choo to a seven-year, $130 million contract to be their left fielder.
With Leonys Martin in center and Alex Rios in right, it appears that Choice's chances of being an everyday player, at least in 2014, have disappeared.
"The team got better," Choice said. "My job is still the same, go in there and help the team win. Obviously, this is going to delay [being an everyday player] a little bit, but you still have to win a job. Nobody is going to give it to you, especially early in your career. You still have to go out and prove yourself."
There is still a consolation prize to be won. Choice, a right-handed hitter, could still make the Rangers as a fourth outfielder and a part-time designated hitter. Choo, Martin and Mitch Moreland, who is currently the leading candidate to be the designated hitter, are all left-handed hitters.
"I wouldn't consider it a consolation prize," said Choice on Saturday at the Frisco Roughriders open house event at Dr. Pepper Ballpark. "Those are at-bats that can help the team win. Somebody will have to fill that void."
It could be Choice or it could be somebody with more experience. Daniels said the Rangers are still looking for another right-handed hitter, most likely somebody who can complement Moreland at designated hitter.
The long-term prognosis is Choice is not expected to be a part-time player. Choice was taken by Oakland with the 10th overall pick in the 2010 Draft out of UT-Arlington and he spent last season at Triple-A Sacramento. Choice played in 132 games and hit .302 with 90 runs scored, 14 home runs and 89 RBIs in 600 plate appearances. He had a .390 on-base percentage and a .445 slugging percentage.
The Athletics called him up in September and Choice had five hits, including a double, in 18 at-bats. Choice is a highly-regarded prospect viewed as a potential impact offensive player.
If he doesn't earn a spot this season, he could end up as the Rangers' right fielder in 2015. Rios is a free agent after this season although the Rangers hold a $13.5 million option for 2016.
"I just want to be in the best possible shape in Spring Training and be ready to swing the bat," Choice said. "I want to be ready on Day 1 to make an impact. As long as I'm in the field contributing, that's the main goal."
• Shortstop Elvis Andrus is sporting a full Abraham Lincoln-type beard. Said Andrus, "I've been letting it grow for three or four months, and so far my family likes it."
• Andrus on his new double-play partner Jurickson Profar, who is taking over for Ian Kinsler at second base: "The good thing is we have played a few games together so it won't be new. He's extra-talented, I can't wait to start working out with him. From Day 1, we'll be able to talk ... I'm going to make him as comfortable as I can and let him grow as a player."
• The Rangers Winter Caravan will stop in the town of West on Tuesday for an event at 3 p.m. at the West Community Center. Scheppers, Moreland, broadcaster Steve Busby and vice-president Jim Sundberg will attend along with Rangers Foundation executive director Karin Morris.
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.