3/27/2014 6:04 P.M. ET
Washington says Lewis 'very close' to returning
By Dave Sessions / Special to MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- A day after Colby Lewis threw 72 pitches over five scoreless innings in the Cactus League finale, manager Ron Washington said Lewis looks "very close" to being ready to return to the rotation after missing the last season and a half due to elbow and hip surgeries.
Lewis will make a rehab start April 1 in a Minor League exhibition game, then likely another rehab start in the minors. He could be ready to return as early as April 11 based on that timeline, though Washington said nothing is certain beyond the April 1 start.
"He'll make that start and if we have to reassess, we'll have to reassess," Washington said, noting that the Rangers are being especially cautious with Lewis' return.
"If you judge him on what he did against that lineup against Seattle yesterday, he's ready," Washington said. "But hey, man, this guy just came off a hip injury. We want to make certain there's no issue, because once he goes into our rotation, we want him for every start we can get."
Lewis made four starts in Spring Training, posting an 8.00 ERA over nine innings. He allowed 12 hits, including two home runs, walked seven and struck out five.
Andrus says his arm is ready to go
ARLINGTON -- Elvis Andrus hasn't played defense since March 17 due to a sore elbow, but the Rangers' longest-tenured position player expressed no doubt Thursday that he would be back at shortstop on Opening Day.
"For sure," Andrus said. "I'll be ready to go Monday."
Andrus made cutoff and relay throws before Thursday's exhibition game against Quintana Roo, after a productive session Wednesday. He will play shortstop in the exhibition game against the Astros in San Antonio Friday, manager Ron Washington said after Thursday's game.
"I knew that my arm just needed to get stronger and as soon as I did that, I'd feel amazing," Andrus said. "It was not a concern for me. I was trying to get my arm in shape to get ready for the season."
Andrus' arm troubles may stem from the fact that he didn't play winter ball in his home country of Venezuela for the first time in his career, said manager Ron Washington, who in his playing days was a utility infielder whose main position was shortstop.
"Elvis just didn't throw this winter, that's the bottom line," Washington said. "I don't think we'll have that issue with him and his arm anymore, even if he decides not to play [winter ball] or do anything over the winter.
"We've all got to keep our arm in some kind of shape. I used to take balls, go to the park and throw into the fence, just a bucket of balls every day. He didn't and he knows now. We won't have that issue again."
Andrus, who has played at least 145 games at short all five seasons of his career, agreed.
"One thing I learned for sure, I know that I have to take care of my arm especially in the offseason," he said. "I was fortunate that it was nothing serious, nothing bad that could keep me out of the game."
Martinez hopes to learn from stint in rotation
ARLINGTON -- Rookie right-hander Nick Martinez saw his name on a locker in the clubhouse at Globe Life Park for the first time Thursday, a day after being named as the No. 5 starter in the Rangers' injury-addled rotation.
Martinez didn't seem to be on anyone's radar as a rotation candidate -- except Rangers management, who were suitably impressed by his performance in Spring Training. Even though he spent much of the time in minor-league camp, the Rangers chose to promote the 23-year-old who has never pitched past Double-A.
Last year Martinez made four starts for Double-A Frisco, going 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA. He started the year with Class A Myrtle Beach, where he was 10-7 with a 2.87 ERA. He was an 18th-round Draft pick in 2011 and considers himself a "finesse guy" who focuses on locating his fastball.
"I came into camp continuing what I did last year," Martinez said. "I had a strong year last year, I was able to bring that into spring. I showed a lot of consistency in my performance, and my delivery and everything they needed to see."
Martinez may not be in the Major Leagues long, though. Depending on how quickly Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison are ready to return from injuries, Martinez could get as little as one start. The Rangers are skipping his first turn, meaning his next turn would come April 9. Lewis is scheduled to make a rehab start April 1 and could return shortly thereafter. Harrison is also expected to return sometime in April.
So Martinez will try to learn as much as he can during this stint, regardless of how much he pitches.
"I'm trying to pick everyone's minds, get a feel for how it is up here," Martinez said. "When you face these kinds of hitters it's a whole different game. I want to work with everyone -- anybody that I can get advice from, I'm going to take right now, it doesn't matter who it is at this point."
Second base job still up for grabs
ARLINGTON -- Now that the Rangers have grabbed former Cubs utility infielder Donnie Murphy off waivers, the competition for the last infield spot on the Opening Day roster will begin anew in the final three exhibition games.
Manager Ron Washington had Murphy hitting second in the lineup for Thursday's game against Quintana Roo.
"I haven't seen him," Washington said of Murphy. "I want to see what he looks like and what he can do. I've got him at the top of the order so I can get a good look at his at-bats and get him some at-bats in a hurry."
Texas management needs to get a quick look at Murphy before deciding between him, Adam Rosales and Josh Wilson for roster spots. One of those players will likely not make the team; Washington said he will "mix and match" the others to fill in for the injured Jurickson Profar, who could be out as long as three months.
Though no official roster moves were announced Thursday, Washington said Brent Lillibridge and Kensuke Tanaka are no longer in the mix to make the club.
Murphy is an eight-year veteran who has played with five teams. Last year with the Cubs, he had career highs in several offensive categories, including home runs (11) and RBIs (23) over 149 at-bats in 46 games.
"In my career, I've been a utility guy stuck behind superstar players," he said. "Last year in the last two months, they gave me an opportunity and it worked out well."
Murphy said he hoped to bring "versatility" to the Rangers. He can play second base, shortstop and third base.
"I'm confident in all those spots," he said.
• Washington praised Michael Choice, who tied for the team lead in at-bats (61) in Spring Training and won the fourth outfielder job based on a .361 average, four homers and 15 RBIs: "We knew nothing about him. He came into camp, he worked hard, he got better and he continued to get better and put himself in a position to make this team. We'll see once Spring Training is over if he can maintain, because he certainly impressed a lot of people with the way he goes about his business."
• Washington said he'd use lefty Neal Cotts and righty Alexi Ogando as his seventh and eighth inning pitchers to set up new closer Joakim Soria, though not in any particular order. When Soria is not available, Washington will go with Jason Frasor in the seventh and Cotts and Ogando in the eighth and ninth, again in no particular order.
Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.