3/18/2014 10:24 P.M. ET
Lewis to work in Minor Leagues
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Colby Lewis and Yu Darvish are stepping aside so Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers can continue their pursuit of a spot in the starting rotation.
Lewis will make his next start in a Minor League game on Thursday and Darvish will do the same on Friday. That will allow Ross to start on Thursday against the Reds and Scheppers to start on Friday against the Brewers.
Both Ross and Scheppers have been impressive in their bid to win a spot in the rotation. Ross has a 2.08 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP this spring while Scheppers has a 3.12 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. Ross has the lowest ERA of any candidate competing for a spot in the rotation while Scheppers has the second lowest and the second lowest WHIP.
Joe Saunders has a 6.43 ERA and has allowed ten hits and a walk in seven innings. But he allowed two runs over four innings against the Royals on Monday night and is the most experienced starter in camp.
Tommy Hanson has pitched well according to the numbers with a 3.24 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. But his velocity and overall stuff still aren't back to where it was with the Braves in 2009-11. Both Saunders and Hanson should pitch on Saturday either against the Royals in Surprise or a Minor League game.
Lewis is scheduled to throw 80 pitches over five innings in a Minor League game. The Rangers want to get his pitch count up and see if he is ready to be an option at the Major League level. With less than two weeks before Opening Day, the Rangers still aren't sure if Lewis is all the way back after missing 11/2 years because of flexor tendon and hip replacement surgery. Significant progress has been made but not enough.
Kirkman, Beltre struggle with spring spotlight on them
PHOENIX -- Two players out of options did not help their chances of breaking camp on the 25-man roster during the Rangers' 9-3 loss to the Brewers on Tuesday afternoon.
Left-hander Michael Kirkman walked four and gave up a grand slam home run to Mark Reynolds in one inning of work and outfielder Engel Beltre had two key mistakes, one on the bases and the other in the field. For either player, this was not a good time to have a game like that.
"No it's not, that's fair to say," Kirkman said.
Kirkman, taking over for Martin Perez in the sixth, was supposed to pitch 3-4 innings but only could get through one. He walked the bases loaded with one out before Reynolds took him deep. Kirkman said he couldn't get his sinker over the plate.
"They were around the strike zone but not in it," Kirkman said. "A couple got away but for the most part they were right there but not in it."
Kirkman was officially being considered for a spot in the rotation but the best he can hope for right now is long man in the bullpen. The Rangers have spent four years waiting patiently for Kirkman be good for an extended period but it hasn't happened. Dealing with skin cancer twice in the past two years has not helped.
Now he has to pitch his way onto this team and it hasn't happened.
"We haven't made any decisions," manager Ron Washington said. "I know he feels bad. He had 3-4 innings to give us and he had a rough first inning. We couldn't send him back out there."
Beltre reached on a one-out bunt single in the second and Leonys Martin followed with a single to right. Beltre started to try for third, but after rounding the base, decided otherwise. The throw to third was cut off by shortstop Jean Segura and Beltre was thrown out trying to scramble back to second. In the fifth inning, Beltre lost Reynolds' fly ball in the sun and it prolonged the inning for Perez. The Brewers ended up scoring five runs that inning.
"He lost a fly ball," Washington said. "That happens."
Michael Choice has clearly out-distanced Beltre for the fourth outfield spot. Washington said the Rangers aren't going to carry a player just because he is out of options.
"We're going to take the 25 best players," Washington said. "We're not worried about that. We'll do what we have to do."
Andrus shut down from throwing for several days
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Shortstop Elvis Andrus has been shut down from throwing for several days because of soreness in his right elbow. Andrus was scratched from Tuesday's game against the Cubs because of the problem.
Andrus has been bothered by soreness in his right arm all spring and has not been able to throw at full strength. He had a throwing error on Monday night in a 6-0 loss to the Royals. The Rangers are off on Wednesday and Andrus is not expected to play on Thursday against the Reds. He will be re-evaluated on Friday by Dr. Keith Meister.
"I feel good," Andrus said. "I'm OK. Nothing to worry about. It's good. I'm good."
Josh Wilson started at shortstop on Tuesday afternoon against the Brewers while Hanser Alberto was brought over from the Minor Leagues to start against the Cubs. Jurickson Profar started at second base. Manager Ron Washington said he wants to keep Profar at second base.
• Ronald Guzman hit a home run in the ninth inning on Tuesday afternoon. That gives him two in six at-bats this spring. Nick Williams has two in four at-bats. Going into Tuesday night's game, the two Class A prospects have combined to hit more home runs in ten at-bats this spring than the top seven hitters in the Rangers projected Opening Day lineup. Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus, Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre, Alex Rios and Mitch Moreland. Those seven had three home runs in a combined 191 at-bats.
• Pitching coach Mike Maddux and his brother Greg are still away from the team because of a family funeral. Mike is expected back on Thursday.
• Kevin Kouzmanoff did not play against the Brewers on Tuesday afternoon. It's the first Cactus League game he has missed this spring.
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.