Wash: We'll have five good starting pitchers

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ron Washington wonders about the closer role if Neftali Feliz becomes a starter.

But the skipper has no doubt that the Rangers will come out of spring with five quality starters, whether Feliz remains in the bullpen or not.

“The Texas Rangers organization is sitting in a good position as far as starters go,” Washington said.

That starts with C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis, who pitched well to help the Rangers win the AL West and make a run to the World Series last season. But it’s the competition for the final few spots that really has Washington excited.

Tommy Hunter, who went 13-4 last season, will probably get a spot despite what’s been a rough spring so far. He’s the only pitcher competing for a starting job who hasn’t put up impressive Cactus League numbers.

Young lefties Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Michael Kirkman have combined to allow only five earned runs in 23 innings entering Holland’s Tuesday outing against the Dodgers. They’re pounding the strike zone, allowing only four walks, none by Holland. Washington considers that a sign of maturity from three guys who have some big league experience under their belt.

“Don’t have to be great,” Washington said. “Just have to keep the ball in play and don’t be walking people, and we’ll be fine.”

Righty Alexi Ogando, who is also scheduled to pitch Tuesday, is another rotation candidate but more likely to end up in the back of the bullpen. And there’s Feliz, who has been dominant in Arizona, allowing one run while striking out nine in nine innings.

Oh, and don’t forget about Brandon Webb. No timetable has been set for the former Cy Young winner to pitch in games, but Washington is certain that Webb will be in the Rangers’ rotation sooner or later.

“I’m looking at the big picture,” Washington said. “The big picture is the depth. We’ll come out of here with five starters and five that we feel will be able to help us be successful each and every day.”