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Texas identifying backup C with Nicholas DFA'd

Move made to make room for Lincecum on roster
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have designated catcher Brett Nicholas for assignment to make room for pitcher Tim Lincecum on the 40-man roster.

The Rangers will now either trade Nicholas, or hope he passes through waivers, so that he can be assigned to Triple-A Round Rock.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have designated catcher Brett Nicholas for assignment to make room for pitcher Tim Lincecum on the 40-man roster.

The Rangers will now either trade Nicholas, or hope he passes through waivers, so that he can be assigned to Triple-A Round Rock.

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"Obviously without getting into complete specifics, we needed a roster spot, and looked at all of our options," manager Jeff Banister said. "As an organization, we had to make a decision, and as tough as that is, that was the decision we made."

Video: Lincecum, Banister talk expectations

The Rangers need to identify a backup catcher behind Robinson Chirinos. Juan Centeno, Curt Casali and Mike Ohlman are the three in camp with Major League experience. Rookies Jose Trevino and Isiah Kiner-Falefa are also in camp, but probably not ready to make the jump from Double-A Frisco to the big leagues.

Centeno is on the 40-man roster, and he is a left-handed hitter. He has played in 101 Major League games over parts of the last five seasons with the Mets, Brewers, Twins and Astros. Casali has spent parts of the last four seasons with the Rays, while Ohlman played in seven games for the Blue Jays last year.

The Rangers will also continue to look outside the organization.

"It's wide open," Banister said.

Nicholas was getting ready for his ninth season in the organization. He has also played first base in the Minors, but spent the past four seasons at Round Rock focusing on developing his catching skills. He is a left-handed hitter with power, and has a strong reputation for working well with pitchers. He played in 37 games for the Rangers over parts of the last two seasons.

"Just wait and see if there is a team that needs me," Nicholas said. "It's part of the process. Sometimes you're the odd-man out. There is a lot of mutual respect, but this is the business side. As a player you always know that it is there."

Blackburn has streak end
Rangers pitcher Clayton Blackburn threw a scoreless first inning on Wednesday in a 5-4 loss to the Rockies, giving him six straight to start the spring. But the Rockies came back to score one in the second, and four in the third off him.

"I felt like Blackburn had a good sinker early, good breaking ball, good changeup mix," Banister said. "But it seemed like he started getting his pitches up as he got tired there in the third."

Tocci held out
Outfielder Carlos Tocci was given the day off on Wednesday, one day after being hit by a pitch in a "B" game. Tocci went through concussion protocol, and appears to be symptom free. But the Rangers still want to give him more time.

The pitch hit Tocci on the left side of the helmet in the area of the cheekbone.

"It cracked the helmet, but I am OK," Tocci said. "I felt a little dizzy, but thank God it hit the helmet and not me."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Tocci is in camp as a Rule 5 Draft pick. He has to make the team out of camp or be placed on waivers, plus he would be offered back to the Phillies.

Herrera, Niese limited
Veteran Jonathon Niese and rookie right-hander Ronald Herrera came into camp considered as contenders for the rotation. Health issues are keeping that from being the case.

Herrera, acquired from the Yankees on Nov. 20, finished last season on the Minor League disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder. The shoulder is still not at full strength this spring, and he has yet to pitch in the game.

"We are going to slow the process down and strengthen him up," Banister said. "Prevent something bigger down the road."

Niese has made 197 Major League starts, but missed all of last season while still recovering from left knee surgery. The Rangers are taking him slow this spring although he did throw live batting practice on Wednesday.

Rangers beat
Jurickson Profar pinch-ran for Joey Gallo at first base in the late innings of the game against the Rockies Wednesday. The Rangers wanted to give Ronald Guzman a day off to rest his knees.

Video: TEX@COL: Gallo launches a solo homer in the 4th

Hanser Alberto played on Wednesday. It was his first action since leaving the first Cactus League game on Feb. 24 with a tight left hamstring.

Matt Bush is starting on Friday against the Reds in Goodyear. Doug Fister will do his work in a camp game back in Surprise.

Martin Perez pitched live batting practice on Wednesday, and is hoping to pitch in some kind of game on Monday. It will most likely be a "B" or Minor League game on the back fields.

• Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has six hits in his last seven at-bats, including two doubles and a home run. A scout who has been following the Rangers said, "He looks great. He is healthy and swinging the bat well."

Up next
Left-hander Cole Hamels pitches against the White Sox at 2:05 p.m. CT Wednesday in Surprise. The Rangers also expect Choo to be back in the lineup. Willie Calhoun should also be in the lineup. He is hitting .364 over eight games. You can listen on Gameday Audio.

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