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Colon not worrying about rotation battle

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers are the only American League club never to have had a Cy Young Award winner, but there were two former winners creating some buzz in camp on Thursday.

Tim Lincecum, who won the National League Cy Young Award in 2008-09, stirred the camp just by showing up for his first workout after agreeing to a contract last week. While he was doing that, Bartolo Colon had another solid start for the Rangers, this time against the Athletics at Hohokam Park.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers are the only American League club never to have had a Cy Young Award winner, but there were two former winners creating some buzz in camp on Thursday.

Tim Lincecum, who won the National League Cy Young Award in 2008-09, stirred the camp just by showing up for his first workout after agreeing to a contract last week. While he was doing that, Bartolo Colon had another solid start for the Rangers, this time against the Athletics at Hohokam Park.

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Colon, who won the AL Cy Young in 2005 while with the Angels, went 2 2/3 innings and allowed two unearned runs in the Rangers' 5-3 loss to the Athletics. Colon started the game with two scoreless innings. A two-out error by shortstop Darwin Barney led to the two runs in the third and kept Colon from having a clean three innings. He had allowed one run over two innings in his previous start against the Padres.

"I felt good," Colon said. "I was throwing my breaking stuff for strikes. My fastball felt good, but my breaking ball was better."

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Colon, 44, is going into his 21st season in the Major Leagues, but still has to win a job. He is in camp on a Minor League contract, and the competition is stiff for a spot in a rotation that should include Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, Doug Fister and Matt Moore.

That leaves one -- maybe two -- spots open, and the field of candidates includes veterans Jesse Chavez and Jonathon Niese, and relievers Matt Bush and Mike Minor. Lincecum is expected to be used in relief.

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"I'm not thinking about it," Colon said. "I have been around enough to know what it is like. I just go about my work and try not to worry about it. Let them make the decision."

A darkhorse has also emerged in the competition. Clayton Blackburn has pitched five scoreless innings over his first two outings and starts again on Wednesday against the Rockies in Scottsdale, Ariz. Blackburn has never pitched in the Majors, and is still a longshot to crack the rotation. But the Rangers keep giving him the ball.

"My hopes aren't down," Blackburn said. "I'm trying to be optimistic and have fun, not be pessimistic and walk around with my head down. I'm not giving up hope until somebody takes it away from me."

Video: SD@TEX: Colon makes his first start of the spring

Blackburn could end up at Triple-A Round Rock. Colon will not, even though he has a Minor League contract. If he doesn't make the team, Colon will likely elect free agency and look for another team. The Rangers want to make a decision in a timely manner.

"Obviously with a guy like that, the courtesy of communication is paramount," manager Jeff Banister said.

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, Bartolo Colon