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Colon making case to join Rangers' rotation

Veteran right-hander works 4 strong frames vs. Angels
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Bartolo Colon may never throw another pitch in the Major Leagues, but he could still end up being a great addition for the Rangers this spring if anybody is paying attention.

"They can learn a lot," Colon said. "There is a reason why I have pitched so long in the Major Leagues."

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Bartolo Colon may never throw another pitch in the Major Leagues, but he could still end up being a great addition for the Rangers this spring if anybody is paying attention.

"They can learn a lot," Colon said. "There is a reason why I have pitched so long in the Major Leagues."

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Colon showed it on Sunday afternoon by holding the Angels to one unearned run over his four innings in the Rangers' 4-3 loss. He allowed two hits and no walks to go with three strikeouts. Colon faced 15 hitters and threw first-pitch strikes to 12 of them. He threw 53 pitches in all, none of them clocking higher than mid-80s.

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Colon, in camp on a Minor League contract, has a chance for at least two more starts in Spring Training to convince the Rangers that he belongs on a Major League roster. Colon, who appears to be in competition with Mike Minor for the fifth spot in the rotation, has a 1.04 ERA after three outings.

"I don't think about it, because I have been in the game so long," Colon said. "I just have my job and let them make a decision."

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The Rangers have a couple of weeks before they have to make the decision. Until then ...

Others are paying attention.

"It has been great having him," rookie pitcher Yohander Mendez said. "He is always letting us know how to handle situations and what we need to do to get it done. Always pitch with your heart. Feel what you are doing right there."

Video: TEX@LAA: Colon on earning his spot, facing Ohtani

Said reliever Alex Claudio, "He is great to be around because he is so positive. That's what he tells us ... enjoy it and have fun."

Hamels in line for opener
The Rangers have not announced their Opening Day starter, but Cole Hamels is the obvious choice and he is lined up for the assignment.

Hamels is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday against the Brewers, leaving him with two more Spring Training starts. If the Rangers keep Hamels on four days' rest, he would pitch again March 18 against the Angels and March 23 against the Padres. That would put him in position to start on Opening Day, March 29 against the Astros at Globe Life Park.

The Rangers have Doug Fister and Matt Moore to follow Hamels in the rotation. The rest of the rotation is unsettled and the club is still waiting to see if Martin Perez is sufficiently recovered from a broken bone in the tip of his right elbow. He is scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game on Monday.

Rangers beat
• The Rangers had just five hits on Sunday. Rougned Odor was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and has one hit in his last 17 at-bats. He has struck out eight times in that stretch.

Willie Calhoun flied out in his only plate appearance and is in an 0-for-14 skid.

• The Angels used Shohei Ohtani as their designated hitter on Sunday. He had a single off Colon, struck out against Tayler Scott and grounded out off Erik Goeddel.

• Scott set the side down in order in the fifth inning and has pitched five scoreless innings over his last four appearances.

Ryan Rua turned 28 on Sunday.

Up next
Right-handers Clayton Blackburn and Jesse Chavez will be on the mound for the Rangers in split-squad action on Monday. Blackburn draws the start against the Indians at 3:05 p.m. CT in Goodyear, Ariz. Watch live on MLB.TV as Chavez starts in the night game against the Royals at 8:05 in Surprise.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Clayton Blackburn, Jesse Chavez, Bartolo Colon, Cole Hamels