3/22/2014 2:02 P.M. ET
Daniels praises Lewis for his comeback attempt
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Colby Lewis has not made the Rangers yet. He is still competing with Robbie Ross, Tommy Hanson and Joe Saunders. But, coming off flexor tendon surgery in 2012 and hip replacement last year, Lewis has received lavish praise from general manager Jon Daniels.
"To me, Colby is the story of the camp," Daniels said. "It has gone better than I expected. Just knowing the surgery that he had, it's amazing. Stuff-wise he is where he was two years ago. Now it's about building himself up and honing his command. He is ahead of where we expected him to be. It's been pretty impressive."
Lewis will likely make his next start on Wednesday against the Mariners in Surprise and the Rangers are hoping to get him up to 75 pitches. If that goes well, the Rangers could pitch him once more in either a Minor League or simulated game before needing a fifth starter on April 8 against the Red Sox.
"We'll see," Lewis said. "We have to get through the next one first."
Scheppers' goal as a starter? Stay healthy
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Tanner Scheppers has a simple goal as a starting pitcher.
"Just stay healthy for a full year," Scheppers said. "Try to make every start, stay focused on my routine and really focus on my body."
Scheppers is going into the rotation after being used as a reliever for most of his four-year professional career, He made one start in Triple-A in 2011 and seven in 2010. So he knows that the biggest question is if he'll hold up for an entire season under the new workload.
"Time will tell," Scheppers said. "But I'll prepare for every one of my starts and put the work in necessary to give the team a chance to win."
General manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers talked at length about the endurance issue before deciding to put Scheppers in the rotation. The Rangers won't have set pitch counts or an innings limit on Scheppers, but will monitor him closely.
"Pitching is tough regardless," Daniels said. "He made 76 appearances in the big leagues and there were a number of times he got up but didn't get in the game. That's not easy. He is going to have to be honest with us and use common sense. There are no rules. If there are, we haven't figured it out. It's about a lot of communication and common sense."
Battle for bench includes catcher
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have not made any announcements regarding their four-man bench, and even the backup catching situation has not been decided. J.P. Arencibia and Robinson Chirinos are competing for the spot behind Geovany Soto.
Arencibia had the job coming into camp but Chirinos has had the better spring. He went into Saturday's game hitting .435 (10-23) while Arencibia was hitting .184 (7-for-38). The Rangers have been using Arencibia in Minor League games to get him some extra work and he has had much time with hitting coach Dave Magadan. He was 2-for-3 on Saturday.
"He's worked his tail off," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We got him for a reason. He was non-tendered [by the Blue Jays] because he had a poor year but he's 27 with power and durability. He has worked on making some real changes on his approach and swing. The effort is there and we're starting to see him apply the changes."
The other spots on the bench are becoming clearer. The Rangers sent Brent Lillibrudge back to the Minors, leaving Josh Wilson and Adam Rosales as the remaining utility infield candidates. Wilson appears to have the edge.
"Wilson is the better defender," manager Ron Washington said. "That's obvious."
Kevin Kouzmanoff is close to winning a spot as the backup corner infielder and Michael Choice is still the leading candidate to be the fourth outfielder because he is a right-handed hitter. Jim Adduci and Engel Beltre are still in camp but are left-handed hitters. Beltre is out of options.
"I love Engel's talent and style," Daniels said. "He loves to play the game but it's not a perfect fit. It would be better if he was right-handed."
Rangers face deadline on Hanson
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- When pitcher Tommy Hanson agreed to a $2 million non-guaranteed split contract with the Rangers, the deal included certain provisions that could come into play next week.
A split deal means Hanson, who has an option left, agreed to a smaller salary if he is sent down to Triple-A Round Rock. But the Rangers have to option him by Wednesday or his $2 million Major League contract automatically becomes guaranteed.
But Hanson also has an agreement with the Rangers that if they do option him to Triple-A, he has the right to ask for his release and become a free agent. Hanson gave up seven runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Royals on Friday and that's not going to help him make the rotation.
Hanson said there haven't been any discussions about his role on the team, pitching out of the bullpen, going to the Minor Leagues or taking his free agency.
"I'm not worried about that," Hanson said. "I just gave up seven runs in 5 2/3 innings. I'm not think about that. I'm thinking about why my pitches are up."
• Derek Holland, recovering from knee surgery, is long-tossing from 180 feet and hopes to throw off a mound during the first week of April in Arlington. Holland is still shooting for to return by the first week in June.
• Matt Harrison is pitching in a Minor League game on Sunday.
• Yu Darvish reported some improvement from the stiffness in his neck. The Rangers are hoping he can pitch in a Minor League game in the next couple of days.
• Pitcher Jose Contreras has asked for and been given his unconditional release.
• Mitch Moreland, sidelined with a strained oblique muscle in his left ribcage, is scheduled to play in a Minor League game on Sunday.
• Joe Saunders pitches against the Padres on Sunday in Surprise. Ryan Feierabend starts on Monday against the Athletics with Martin Perez pitching in a Minor League game. Feierabend is getting stretched out because he'll likely end up in the Triple-A Round Rock rotation.
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.