TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Texas Rangers will leave Arizona immediately after today's game in Tempe against the Los Angeles Angels, wrapping up another slate of Cactus League games and workouts at their facility in Surprise.
Spring training was extended by two weeks due to the World Baseball Classic, and games began only a few days after camp opened. The culmination of that long spring came Tuesday when the team announced a series of roster moves, as the Rangers now have identified 22 of the 25 players who will be on the Opening Day roster for Sunday night's contest in Houston.
"The spring went extremely well this year," manager Ron Washington said. "As we went deeper into the spring, we improved as a team. I thought we progressed the way I figured we'd progress. We were slow in the beginning and picked it up as we went along, but I expected it. Especially since we only had a few days before the first game. We were playing in February when we were still trying to work out the kinks."
The Rangers head back to Texas to play an exhibition game in Arlington against the Mexico City Red Devils at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Thursday night. The scheduled game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Surprise on Thursday will feature only minor league players.
Texas then will head to San Antonio for a pair of games Friday and Saturday in the Alamodome before beginning the regular season the following night against the Astros in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPN.
Other team notes:
Washington said he thinks his initial choice for an eighth-inning reliever would be either Robbie Ross or Michael Kirkman. He also said that won't preclude others such as Jason Frasor from seeing time in the eighth, but Ross and Kirkman likely will be his first options out of the chute.
Washington also said the Rangers have not decided whether they will carry an extra pitcher or position player until they need to make room for a fifth starter April 9.
"I think we'll come up with that between before we head to San Antonio," Washington said. "It might be after, but somewhere in there we'll make the decision."
Nate Robertson is taking his reassignment to Round Rock (Triple-A) in stride. The big left-hander had a very good spring that saw him reinvent his delivery. The results paid off, as he allowed just two runs in 11 innings, good for a 1.64 ERA.
Washington compared Robertson's transition to a more control-oriented delivery to that of Frank Tanana, who underwent a similar transformation and extended his career with a few more successful seasons before hanging up his glove.
Robertson hasn't pitched with a big league club since 2010 and even saw time in independent baseball last season, but he sees his successful training camp as a springboard to continue his quest to return to the majors. Robertson had an option to ask for his release but instead accepted his minor league assignment.
"I haven't even gauged interest from other teams, which I think shows my desire to remain in this organization," Robertson said. "I have to weigh the other factors too if there is an opportunity to extend my career someplace else, but I'm just going to let that play out.
"I still have a desire to play this game so I'm not going home."
Michael Kirkman was originally slated to start Wednesday, but recent waiver addition Brad Mills will take the mound to begin the game against his former team instead. Mills was acquired Sunday from the Angels. Kirkman is scheduled as the second pitcher and will throw two or three innings as opposed to the five that were originally planned.
RHP Kyle McClellan is 15 days into a projected three- to four-week period of not throwing due to a strained right lat muscle. Once cleared, he will begin a long-toss and flat-ground throwing program.
LHP Martin Perez has been cleared to begin a throwing program once he is pain free. He is no longer wearing protective gear on the arm. Perez is anticipated to begin throwing next week.
RHP Joakim Soria continues recovery from his second Tommy John surgery and is throwing bullpen sessions. Barring any setback, he will begin throwing live batting practices the week of April 8.
RHP Colby Lewis (flexor tendon surgery) is on the same time frame as Soria for beginning to throw live BP, again barring any setbacks. He also is throwing bullpen sessions.
C Eli Whiteside has left the team for personal reasons not related to his recent assignment to Round Rock (Triple-A).