No cutter is no problem for Matt Harrison

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison did not throw a single cutter in four innings on Saturday.

That's a rarity. Since pitching coach Mike Maddux encouraged Harrison to use his cutter more in 2009, the hurler has always thrown it -- even in spring training games. But not on Saturday.

"I was throwing my other three pitches for strikes, so I thought I'd keep it in my back pocket for down the road," Harrison said. "I got out of the game and realized I hadn't really thrown one."

Harrison's fastball command was solid and he mixed in his changeup and curve well to hitters on both sides of the plate. He allowed just two hits in four innings with no walks and four strikeouts. Harrison's only run allowed in nine Cactus League innings was in his first start (and it was a solo homer). Opponents are hitting just .161 against him in his three starts.

In other words, Harrison is making a strong case for the starting rotation (just like Michael Kirkman and Derek Holland have so far this spring).

"I'm as confident right now as I've ever been," Harrison said. "I"m not worried about what everybody else is doing. I'm just competing with myself each day and working to get better and better. I've taken that attitude out this spring. I'm more confident this year than I was the last two years. Even though I made the rotation the last two years, I'm more confident. I feel like I'm mentally tougher this year."

It's showing so far. Harrison said that confidence comes from his stuff and the success he's had by attacking hitters and being aggressive. He wants hitters to put the ball in play and has focused on avoiding walks.

"I've finally figured out that I have the stuff to pitch at this level," Harrison said.

Other game notes:

* OF Craig Gentry crashed into the center field wall (he sure does like walls) and has a bruised right shoulder. We'll see how he feels on Sunday.

* OF Endy Chavez left the game early with a cramp in his right calf muscle and is listed as day-to-day.

* Tommy Hunter takes the hill Sunday for the Rangers in front of a sold out crowd against the Giants in Surprise.