SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitcher Andrew Cashner still faces a difficult challenge in trying to be ready for the start of the season. But he is back in camp feeling good and said he is not that far behind schedule despite dealing with soreness in his right biceps.
"I'm excited," Cashner said. "Each day will dictate what I do, but I'm not as far behind as initially thought."
The optimistic prognosis may put the brakes on the Rangers' concerns about the back of their rotation and the need to explore outside options like Colby Lewis. The Rangers are still looking for two starters to join Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels and Martin Perez in their rotation, but they may have enough in camp to get by until Cashner and Tyson Ross are ready. A.J. Griffin may have taken a big step with four strong innings against the White Sox on Saturday.
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Ross will likely be out until at least mid-May while he completes his recovery from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. He has thrown three bullpen sessions without issue this past week but still hasn't faced hitters.
There are no plans for Cashner to face hitters anytime soon. He will play catch and long toss this week and will be reexamined next weekend by Dr. Keith Meister.
"Give me a week," Cashner said. "The biggest thing is to see what this week holds for me. I'm going to play catch for four days, and then I'll have a better idea. Each day dictates itself."
Rangers manager Jeff Banister admitted it will be difficult for Cashner to be ready by Opening Day.
"He is up against it, but I'm glad he is optimistic," Banister said. "He got the answers to some medical questions for him, now we can get answers daily. It's now about going through the process and hitting all the check marks."
Cashner was signed to a one-year contract in the offseason. He was on the disabled list twice last season for a strained right hamstring and a strained neck. He came into camp at full strength and all was going well for the first couple of weeks until he developed the soreness in the biceps area.
The Rangers backed him off at the beginning of March to let the condition settle down. But the problem persisted when he tried to start throwing again, and Cashner was shut down so he could be examined by vascular specialist Dr. Gregory Pearl in Dallas on Thursday. He was also given a pain-relieving injection.
"I saw Dr. Pearl and everything went well," Cashner said. "I think the biggest thing is finding out where everything is coming from. He just thinks my nerves might be a little [irritated].
"I felt great coming into camp, even in my first few bullpen sessions. Then this thing popped up and I couldn't get it to calm down. It was frustrating but after the shot and the pain-relief medication, I've been feeling really good."