Club still has a few roster decisions left

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- There are a few spots still left to be decided as the Rangers get closer and closer to Opening Day. For the purposes of the 25-man roster, that's 11 a.m. CT on Wednesday. That's when rosters must be set. Some of the decisions:

* Manager Ron Washington said there are no plans to carry just three bench players and go with an extra reliever. That was the case last year, but that was a special situation. So it's four spots on the bench. That includes:

-- Backup catcher

-- Fourth outfielder

-- Utility infielder

-- Someone else

It's that last spot that is one of the bigger questions. The club continues to look for a right-handed bat outside the organization (Toronto has some outfielders, so maybe someone like Ben Francisco could become available). But if they can't find one, the club could go with Brandon Snyder to start the season, though he's a novice in the outfield. It's also possible they could keep Julio Borbon, in addition to Gentry. But the club would prefer a right-handed bat.

* The Rangers are happy with both of their remaining utility infield candidates and aren't actively pursuing one on the open market, so it's between Alberto Gonzalez and Luis Hernandez. Washington was out on the back fields Friday working with Hernandez at shortstop. Hernandez made two really nice plays at short Thursday, but also had an errant throw. The skipper wanted to be sure Hernandez stayed aggressive on balls and got himself in the right position. It's a close battle.

* Left-handed relief is still not decided, though Robbie Ross continues to make a strong case. We know that Joe Nathan, Mike Adams, Scott Feldman and Alexi Ogando are in the bullpen. The last three spots remain up in the air. If the club goes with a lefty, why not Ross? The youngster has pitched well -- another two shutout innings Friday -- and they're building him up into a multi-inning guy and wouldn't just look at him as a situational lefty. And putting Ross on the roster would send a good signal to other prospects who would know that if they perform well, they might get a shot at some point, too. Neal Cotts and Michael Kirkman are also still in camp, but Kirkman has been inconsistent and it wouldn't hurt for Cotts to get some more time to keep building up his arm strength.

If one of the lefties gets a spot, that means someone is the odd-man out in the group of Koji Uehara, Yoshinori Tateyama and Mark Lowe. Tateyama still has an option, and Uehara and Lowe will be free agents after this season and could be trade bait. We'll see.