Mike Maddux breaks down bullpen favorites

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- There are plenty of open spots and a gaggle of arms in camp to compete for jobs. As Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux put it: "We do have a 'Help Wanted' sign hanging in our bullpen."

While the competition for some spots is wide open, Maddux did indicate there are some favorites. Here's some of what he had to say to the media today:

* Maddux said closer Joe Nathan and veteran Jason Frasor have spots in the bullpen, reiterating what manager Ron Washington said earlier this week about them being locks.

* He listed Robbie Ross and Kyle McClellan as favorites to get bullpen spots if one of them isn't the fifth starter.

* Maddux mentioned Tanner Scheppers and Michael Kirkman as two guys as favorites for spots, as well.

So if we take what Maddux said, here's the rough idea of the bullpen as spring begins (that's assuming these "favorites" do their thing and secure spots): Nathan, Frasor, Ross/McClellan (could be both if neither wins the fifth starter spot), Scheppers and Kirkman.

That still leaves a few spots (again, just because guys are "favorites" doesn't mean they'll earn the jobs). Josh Lindblom is someone Washington mentioned as a guy who will get a serious look. But there are others, too.

"We have a lot of guys that are experienced in their major league service time and some young guys too who are unproven, but they have high ceilings or a lot of promise," Maddux said. "This is a great camp to pitch well -- a lot of opportunities out there."

Maddux is content to let the competition begin and evaluate as he goes. With a bunch of spring, intrasquad, split-squad and even one or two "B" games, Maddux and his staff will have enough innings to let everyone pitch and get a sense of what they can do.