Lowe 'not a candidate for the rotation'

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Derek Lowe knew he was going to pitch on Monday night for the Texas Rangers, but it wasn't until he arrived at Surprise Stadium this morning that he learned he would be replacing the injured Yu Darvish as the starter against the Kansas City Royals.

Lowe made the most of his opportunity, throwing three scoreless innings and allowing two hits and a walk with three strikeouts. He threw 47 pitches and even added some pitches to his repertoire during his second appearance since joining the team March 6 as a free agent on a minor-league deal.

"I think it definitely got a little bit better than last start," Lowe said. "My breaking ball was a lot better, I had better command of my sinker and we added a cutter, which I didn't throw last time.

“I'm starting to get my legs underneath me a little bit, so I feel like I can compete no matter how long I am out there. All in all it was a good day."

Lowe pitched two innings in his debut Friday. If spring training wasn't over in less than two weeks, Lowe might have shown enough to get stretched out further and enter the competition for the open fifth-starter job.

Manager Ron Washington acknowledged they will stretch Lowe in his remaining appearances. Even as he does increase Lowe's pitch count, Washington said not to read any more into that.

"He is not a candidate for the rotation," Washington said. "We're just trying to build him up."

The 39-year-old right-hander did say that he only needs two bullpen appearances and four starts in camp to be ready.

"All I care about is arm strength," Lowe said.

That said, Lowe said he didn't come to Texas for a specific role. Any role on a major league roster would suit him fine.

"I said all along when I talked to Jon Daniels, I just want an opportunity to compete for any job. There was never any talk of anything," Lowe said. "I'm here to scratch and claw for any role that is possible whether that is five innings or one inning.”

"I don't think that's even in the conversation," Lowe said of starting.

However, to this point, no candidate for the fifth starter's role has distinguished himself as a clear-cut leader. If Lowe does get stretched out and does pitch well, perhaps Texas will stay in house for that slot, as they have stated they would like to do all along.

Lowe spent 2012 with the Cleveland Indians as a starter before joining the New York Yankees' bullpen.