Derek Holland primed for Rangers' home opener

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Texas Rangers left-hander Derek Holland was still recovering from left knee surgery last April and didn't make his season debut until Sept. 2.

This year he's preparing to start the Rangers' home opener against the Houston Astros on Friday at Globe Life Park.

"I have not started any openers -- season, home, anything -- so this is new for me, but the way I'm looking at it, I've been in big situations, big games like the World Series and things like that," Holland said before the Rangers' game Wednesday against the Oakland A's. "So nothing's going to change my approach or any thoughts on that side of it. The main thing is I want to continue what I had last year and take that into the first game this year. And I have a lot of expectations for myself and I want to make sure I fulfill them."

Holland went 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in six games, including five starts, and was named the Rangers' Player of the Month for September. He posted the lowest ERA in the major leagues in September for pitchers who threw a minimum of 25.0 innings. Now he'll try to pick up where he left off.

"I feel great," Holland said. "I'm ready to go. It's go time. I did everything I needed to do in spring training. That's what it's for is to get yourself prepared and ready to go. Everybody gets caught up in all that stuff and there's no need. That's how we get things going. It's spring training. You're preparing for the season. I'm happy. I feel very confident with all my off-speed pitches. Definitely with myself. I know where my head's at. I'm ready to go."

Holland has a career mark of 51-38 with a 4.23 ERA. He went 16-5 in 2011, 12-7 in 2012 and 10-9 in 2013.

Holland pitched in an intersquad game Sunday and concentrated on fine-tuning his pitches.

"I just wanted to make sure everything was where I wanted it," said Holland, who will take a flight to Texas on Thursday ahead of his teammates, who will play Oakland in the series finale that afternoon. "I wanted to get the right action with my sinker. The changeup, that was my biggest concern was getting my changeup going, and I felt that was at its peak. I feel very pleased with how it's coming out. Everything was good. I just wanted to make sure I got in there and attacked the hitters and got out of there as quick as possible."

On Friday, Holland will have to control the extra adrenaline that's sure to flow.

"I think I've done a good job controlling that," Holland said. "Obviously I got my first game back out in spring training because I didn't get to play last spring training. So I was glad to get that over with.

"I don't think the adrenaline is going to affect me that much. If anything it will be used more in a positive way. I'm looking forward to hearing the crowd roar and scream and all that stuff. I'm going to be a little excited. ... It's kind of one of those things you live for."

Lineup moves: Jake Smolinski and Adam Rosales will make their first starts of 2015 Wednesday night against the A's -- Smolinski in right field and Rosales at third base.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister said he wants to make sure he keeps all of his players sharp, but he also wants to keep his regulars fresh. Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, who battled multiple injuries last season, will come out of the lineup. Third baseman Adrian Beltre will start at designated hitter, giving his body a mini-break. Regular DH Mitch Moreland, a left-handed hitter, will get the night off against A's left-hander Scott Kazmir.

It's only Game 3 of the season, but Banister said he wants to be proactive.

"Absolutely. I'm being proactive with Adrian, with Choo," Banister said. "But also it's an opportunity to get those bench guys in play quickly too. That's also a necessity. We set those guys over on the bench for seven days and ask them to go face major league pitching, they're not going to be very effective.

"It's being proactive. It's looking for spots where we can get everybody engaged early, keep them up to speed with what they were doing in spring training. The toughest thing for a bench guy is seeing live pitching."

Rosales and Smolinksi said they appreciate the early opportunity to be in the starting lineup.

"For the role that I play, that's really invaluable for me," Rosales said. "Even when I don't play I try to keep my mind mentally sharp, try to pay attention to what's going on in the game, who's pitching, situations, but you can't beat being out there."

Smolinksi hit .365 in spring training with two home runs and six doubles.

"Hopefully I can keep it rolling and keep things going," said Smolinski. "I understand my role right now is just to be ready when my name is called. I'm not going to get caught up in how much I'm playing, just try to take full advantage of when I do play. Try and look at it as just an opportunity."

Odds and ends: Ex-Rangers catcher Geno Petralli was added to the coaching staff at Triple-A Round Rock. Petralli, who played for the Rangers from 1985-93, will coach for the first time since 1995 when he worked for Baltimore at extended spring training. He was a player-coach in the Cubs' organization in 1994. ... Right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa, who is on the disabled list with a groin strain, will throw his first bullpen session Friday since being injured.