1/21/2014 3:59 P.M. ET
Rangers encouraged by Harrison, Lewis
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Matt Harrison made just two starts for the Rangers last season and Colby Lewis hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since 2012. They have had five surgeries between them over the past two years.
But the Rangers are cautiously optimistic both will be at full strength at the start of Spring Training. Harrison appears fully recovered after having surgery twice last season for a herniated disk in his lower back. He also had a third surgery to correct Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in his right shoulder.
He threw off the mound on Monday without any problems and will do so again on Wednesday during the Rangers' pitching minicamp at the Ballpark in Arlington. He is throwing at about 80 percent, but that's normal for mid-January.
"So far so good," Harrison said. "Every day is getting better. It's a matter of getting repetition and getting back in a game."
Lewis is not at the minicamp but is still in a throwing program. The Rangers signed him to a Minor League contract in the hope that he is fully recovered from two years of injuries that included surgery on the flexor tendon in his right elbow and another to address the chronic pain in his right hip.
Pitching coach Mike Maddux watched a video of Lewis throwing on Tuesday and said he could see a big difference after the hip surgery. Maddux said Lewis is getting better extension in his delivery.
"It looked like Colby went into a time machine and found a fountain of youth," Maddux said. "He'll be on a little different program. We'll have to listen to him and get with our medical team to meld him into our Spring Training program. We're in uncharted waters, but if anybody can find the shore, it's Colby."
Moreland gearing for arbitration, and position change
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers haven't had an arbitration hearing with a player since 2000. Mitch Moreland isn't too concerned that he'll be the player to break that streak despite a significant difference in salary figures submitted last week.
Moreland is seeking $3.25 million from arbitration while the Rangers are offering $2,025,000. Hearings will be held the first three weeks in February and the Rangers will continue to negotiate with Moreland's representatives.
"We've got people who handle it for us so we can go out and play the game," Moreland said. "I'm planning on getting ready for the season and let the people who are supposed to handle it, handle it."
Moreland was at the Ballpark in Arlington on Tuesday working out. The Rangers are holding a camp for pitchers but Moreland was there working with third-base coach Gary Pettis on his outfield defense.
Moreland played first base last season but lost that job when the Rangers acquired Prince Fielder from the Tigers. Moreland is now the leading candidate to be the designated hitter, but the Rangers want him to be able to play the outfield, as well.
Moreland has played 45 games in right field at the Major League level and another 181 in the Minor Leagues. He actually played more games in right than at first base (141) while in the Minors. He was a right fielder because of a strong throwing arm, but the Rangers want him comfortable in left, as well. The Rangers place a premium on versatility and this could help Moreland in that regard.
"It's not like I've never done it before," Moreland said. "It's something I've done and something I think I'll be able to do."
Washington's contract status still in limbo
ARLINGTON -- There is still a possibility manager Ron Washington will get a contract extension before Spring Training, but nobody appears too concerned about it right now.
"He's been a huge part of what we've done here," general manager Jon Daniels said. "It's been a partnership from Day 1, and I expect that to continue going forward. We'll handle contracts and personal matters privately."
Washington was in a similar position two years ago. He was set to enter the 2012 season on the last year of his contract after two straight trips to the World Series. Then the Rangers announced a two-year contract extension on Jan. 30, so there is a precedent for getting something done late in the offseason after most of the player moves have been made.
The Rangers have won 457 games the past five years, second most in the Major Leagues behind the Yankees.
"I'm not worried about it," Washington said. "That will take care of itself."
Oliver goes to work for the Rangers
ARLINGTON -- Former Rangers pitcher Darren Oliver was back in uniform on Tuesday at the Ballpark in Arlington. Oliver retired as a pitcher after last season but is going to work for the Rangers as a special assistant.
Oliver's duties have not been completely spelled out, but he still lives in Tarrant County and, like former catcher Ivan Rodriguez, he can help the Rangers in a variety of ways both on and off the field.
"I want him to give up his experience," manager Ron Washington said. "He's got something to offer."
Oliver spent the past two seasons with the Blue Jays. But 10 of his 20 seasons in the Major Leagues were spent with the Rangers, including 2010-11, when he was a part of two World Series teams. Oliver turned 43 after last season but was still a respectable 3-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 50 games for the Blue Jays before deciding to retire.
"It was time," Oliver said. "Plus, my arm wasn't feeling all that good and I was missing a lot of things being away from home."
Oliver is not looking to get back in the game full-time as a pitching coach.
"This is good enough for me," he said.
• Manager Ron Washington spent much time at the minicamp working with infielders Luis Sardinas, Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar on their defense around second base. All three are working out with the pitchers.
• The four catchers at the camp are J.P. Arencibia, Jorge Alfaro, Brett Nicholas and Patrick Cantwell. Nicholas has played mostly first base the past two years, hitting .289 with 21 home runs and 91 RBIs at Double-A Frisco last season. But he was drafted as a catcher out of the University of Missouri in 2010.
• There are 13 pitchers at the minicamp: right-handers Alec Asher, Lisalverto Bonilla, Jerad Eckhoff, Alex Gonzalez, Luke Jackson, Nick Martinez, Miles Mikolas, Chaz Roe, Ben Rowen, Nick Tepesch and Shawn Tolleson, and left-handers Michael Kirkman and Jimmy Reyes.
• Matt Harrison is throwing at the Ballpark during the camp, but is not officially a part of it. Martin Perez is supposed to be there but was having travel problems.
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.