2/20/2014 5:54 P.M. ET
Kirkman now has longest tenure with Rangers
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitcher Michael Kirkman holds a special distinction in the Rangers clubhouse. With Ian Kinsler gone, Kirkman has been with the Rangers organization longer than any other player and is the only one acquired before Jon Daniels became general manager.
Kirkman was taken in fifth round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft out of Lake City Columbia (Fla.) High and signed with the Rangers on June 9 of that year.
"It's pretty odd, I guess, when you think about it," Kirkman said.
Now his tenure is in question because he enters camp out of options. He either has to make the team or be put through outright waivers to be sent to the Minors. Kirkman made the team out of Spring Training last year but was 0-2 with an 8.18 ERA in 25 games. He did not pitch in the Majors after June 6 after another recurrence of skin cancer.
"Who knows what will happen this Spring Training?" Kirkman said. "It matters but some things I can't control. I'm prepared for the season and Spring Training more so than I ever have been. I would love to stay with the Rangers. I know and love the coaching staff and the players. I just need to pitch well and have a spring like I had last year and carry it through the season."
Kirkman has missed time the past two seasons because of skin cancer but is hoping that issue is finally behind him.
Beltre a reliable name in Rangers' lineup
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The countdown to the end of third baseman Adrian Beltre's contract begins this season.
Beltre is signed for three more seasons at $17 million this season, $18 million in 2015 and $16 million in 2016. But the Rangers have a voidable option on 2016 based on Beltre being able to stay in the lineup this season and next year.
According to the terms of his contract, the Rangers can exercise the voidable option if Beltre fails to reach 1,200 plate appearances in 2014-15 or 600 plate appearances in 2015.
Beltre's history suggests he has a good chance of hitting both marks. He has had 1,344 plate appearances over the past two seasons and has had at least 600 plate appearances in 10 of the past 12 seasons. He had 477 plate appearances with the Mariners in 2009 and 525 with the Rangers in 2011. Beltre was on the disabled list twice in 2009 and once in 2011 with a strained left hamstring.
Beltre, who will turn 35 on April 7, played in 161 games last year. He did so while dealing with some tightness in his hamstrings. Beltre's legs remain a concern, which is why manager Ron Washington likes to give him an occasional start at designated hitter. He had 15 starts at DH last season.
"I feel good right now," Beltre said Thursday after the first official workout.
"All I know is every time I go to the ballpark, I can pencil Beltre's name in the lineup," Washington said. "I'll take 85 percent of Beltre over 100 percent of some other guys."
Soto slowed by sore Achilles tendon
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers catcher Geovany Soto is dealing with some soreness in his left Achilles tendon and is being limited in his running. Soto said he can do everything else, including catch pitchers and squat behind the plate.
"If this was the regular season, it would be nothing," Soto said.
The Rangers will take it slow with Soto and right now aren't expecting him to play in the intrasquad game Monday. But they don't expect this to be a long-term issue.
Pitcher Tanner Scheppers remains limited because of back spasms in his lower back. Scheppers is playing catch but is not ready to return to the mound.
Depth remains key for Rangers' rotation
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was among the club officials who watched Tommy Hanson throw live batting practice Thursday. The Rangers have reason to be attentive to Hanson's progress.
With Matt Harrison experiencing stiffness in his lower back, the Rangers need all the starting pitching depth they can get. Hanson was signed just before Spring Training for that reason, and he had his own problems last season with the Angels, missing almost a month with a strained right forearm.
But he has made some adjustments in his delivery, and so far everything has gone well for him this spring. He threw five minutes in the bullpen and 10 more during live batting practice Thursday.
"It went good," Hanson said. "My off-speed stuff was good. My fastball started out high but I got it down in the end. I made a good adjustment; that's always important. I feel like everything is smooth."
The Rangers should find out early next week what's going on with Harrison and how long he will be sidelined. If he is out for an extended period, it leaves the Rangers with Yu Darvish, Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando in the rotation and two spots open. The Rangers are looking at Hanson, Colby Lewis, Nick Tepesch and Robbie Ross as the primary candidates.
"It's all about options and we have plenty of those," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "You look at it as being a moment where somebody has an opportunity to show what they can do."
QB Wilson going to Rangers Spring Training
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has made it official -- at least on Twitter -- that he is coming to Rangers camp.
Wilson, who led Seattle to a Super Bowl title earlier this month, tweeted a photo of himself Thursday holding up a Rangers jersey and said: "Hey Rangers fans ... See you at 'Surprise' Arizona on March 3!"
The Rangers have not completely planned out what Wilson will do while he is in Spring Training. But general manager Jon Daniels said Wilson will likely be added to the Major League Spring Training roster and have a locker in the big league clubhouse.
The Rangers selected Wilson in the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings last December. The Rangers paid $12,000 to take him from the Rockies organization, where he was a Minor League infielder in 2010-11. The Rangers don't expect him to give up football but they do see significant benefits of having a championship professional athlete around their young players even if it is only for a few weeks.
"The guy has had a lot of success and he has a championship attitude," manager Ron Washington said. "We're going to give him a chance to talk to our young kids and see what happens. Maybe [shortstop Elvis Andrus] and some of those young guys can hang with him and see what he has to offer."
• Tepesch is working hard to develop his changeup and Washington said it is getting better. Said Washington, "He just has to continue to work on it and perfect it as best he can."
• Neftali Feliz is expected to throw live batting Friday. He was supposed to throw Wednesday but the Rangers wanted him to work on his mechanics in the bullpen instead. The Rangers were concerned his mechanics were causing some soreness in the shoulder.
• Washington on pitcher Pedro Figueroa, who was claimed on waivers from the Rays: "What an arm!"
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.