SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Joe Nathan climbed on top of the mound on Nolan Ryan Field on Friday and got his first taste of pitching to hitters this spring.
"I know most of the other guys have done that, but we didn't want to rush anything," Nathan said. "It felt good. It's different when a hitter is in there."
Nathan said he threw all of his pitches and was pleased with the results. He'll continue those sessions and the club has targeted March 3 for his first game action, whether that's Cactus League or a "B" game.
"Once it gets going, it's not going to stop, so we might as well use the time now to take our time," Nathan said. "It's not like I'm resting. I'm still doing the drills. I'm still doing everything else."
Nathan is not injured. But at 38 years old and having gone through two Tommy John surgeries (even though the last one was 2010), the Rangers see no reason to rush things. Nathan pitched 64 1/3 innings in 2010, his highest total since 2009. He had 37 saves, re-establishing himself as one of the top closers in the league.
Last year, Nathan got about 10 to 12 innings of work in spring and it put him in proper condition to start the season. He's going to follow a similar blueprint this year. Nathan noted that several veterans, like Lance Berkman and Adrian Beltre, are taking their time and making sure they do what they need to do to prepare for the 2013 campaign.
"If you look around, I think we've been through enough spring trainings that we know at least a timeframe to get ourselves ready," Nathan said. "I think we're going to know our bodies. As long as we communicate and stay on top of things with the staff, everything is going to be fine."
* It was uniform fitting day in the Rangers' clubhouse and this isn't the sort of thing that is as simple as one pant size. There's a waist size, quad length, pant length, whether the player wants it open at the bottom and even various custom changes. As for the uniform tops, Majestic is trying out a jersey that includes some lighter material at the waist and up the sides to help absorb sweat. Ian Kinsler and Robbie Ross are among those giving it a try.
"It's like getting fit for a suit," Kinsler said.
But when you consider that players wear these every day to work, you can understand why they'd want things just right.
* Matt Harrison is scheduled to start Sunday's Cactus League game in Surprise with Martin Perez starting Monday on the road against Colorado and Yu Darvish, making his spring debut, on Tuesday in Surprise against the White Sox.
* At this point, there are no plans to work out Mike Olt at first base. That doesn't mean he can't play the position (he certainly can), but the club wants him focused on third base and the outfield for now.