SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington isn't ready to announce his Opening Day starter, but acknowledged that the choice is between two pitchers. He didn't name them, but he didn't have to. It comes down to Yu Darvish or Matt Harrison.
The manager said performance, experience and how things line up for the Angels the first week of the season will be taken into account when making the decision. But in the past, the Rangers have rewarded the pitcher who has performed the best the previous season. That's Harrison and his 18 wins. It doesn't hurt Harrison that he's also the pitcher with the most MLB starting experience on the current staff (of the four who have spots).
"We could go either way," Washington said. "It's certainly between two guys."
Washington said he knows how the club plans on using its rotation the first week, but it's all dependent on how spring goes and if all the arms are ready. He said he doesn't have to split up the left-handed starters, though that could be a factor in how things go. If Harrison starts on March 31 in Houston, he could slot Darvish before Holland, splitting up the lefties.
Off days during the first week mean that if the Rangers want to set things up so that both Harrison and Darvish pitch against the Angels in the first home series of the year, they can. More on all of the factors involved on this blog tomorrow morning.
Darvish and Harrison both said they aren't concerned about the order. Darvish said as long as he's in the rotation, he's fine.
"The most important thing is going out there, getting the ball every five days and winning games," Harrison said. "It's definitely an honor to open, but we have 33, 34 starts throughout the year and things get mixed up anyway."
It's been an annual rite of spring since Washington took over as manager prior to the 2007 season. The skipper, known for his ability to teach infielders, takes a group out on the back fields before workouts and puts them through the paces. That process begins on Monday here in Surprise as Jurickson Profar, Leury Garcia, Yangervis Solarte and others will get a chance to spend time with Washington on the fundamentals. He's likely to break some of them up into one-on-one sessions at some point as well. It's a chance for Washington to see each of them up close to get a sense of where they are in their development. And for the players, it's an opportunity to learn from someone who has been working with infielders for all of his coaching life.
Mike Olt said he expects to split time between outfield and infield for now, but has been told he'll get more work in the outfield in the coming weeks. That may include some extra time with Gary Pettis either before or after workouts.