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Volquez rolls on with 3 scoreless, no walks

Righty has pitched well in return from TJ surgery; Pence nearing return to outfield; Davidson throws BP
@Sullivan_Ranger
March 9, 2019

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Veteran pitcher Edinson Vólquez ripped off three more scoreless innings in the Rangers' 12-2 loss to the White Sox on Saturday afternoon. That’s five scoreless over the past two outings for the right-hander, who did not pitch last season while recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Veteran pitcher Edinson Vólquez ripped off three more scoreless innings in the Rangers' 12-2 loss to the White Sox on Saturday afternoon. That’s five scoreless over the past two outings for the right-hander, who did not pitch last season while recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.

Volquez should get three more outings in Spring Training before making his first start of the regular season. Texas opens with a three-game series against the Cubs, and right now Volquez is in line to start the third game, on March 31 at Globe Life Park. Mike Minor and Lance Lynn are projected to start the first two games.

“It was good,” Volquez said after Saturday's outing. “Mixing my pitches, pitching backwards [offspeed early in counts], throwing strikes. I think my fastball command was better today than last time. That’s the idea right now: get ahead in the count and get these guys out.”

Volquez opened the game with his fastball at 96 mph. He allowed two hits, struck out two and -- for the third straight game -- did not walk a batter.

“I think staying healthy ... that’s the biggest thing for me,” Volquez said. “Throw pain-free. After that, things are going to come. My velo is good and all my pitches are there right now. My arm is good. That’s what I want -- to be there every fifth day and compete for somebody.”

Pence close to playing field

Outfielder Hunter Pence, who has not played the field in Cactus League games because of a sore right shoulder, went through a full practice with the Rangers on Saturday. He is hoping to play in the outfield on Monday against either the Angels or the Royals.

Pence, in camp on a Minor League contract, is 7-for-24 as a designated hitter this spring. The Rangers need to Pence to be able to play the field before committing a roster spot to him, and he said that should not be an issue.

“Today, I’m doing normal practice with the team,” Pence said. “Playing catch and everything. I’m going on Monday. The plan is Monday, as long as everything keeps going as it is. It’s feeling good, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Davidson throws BP

Infielder Matt Davidson, who is auditioning as a possible extra reliever, threw live batting practice for the first time this spring. Davidson is trying to make the team as backup infielder, and he is also trying to show he can pitch if needed.

Davidson pitched three times for the White Sox in emergency situations last year, delivering a total of three scoreless innings.

“It went really well,” Davidson said. “I felt good. Getting the intensity up a little bit with some hitters in there. Can’t complain, felt pretty good. It has been going great. The first time, so kind of figuring out the routine and the plan, really getting the arm in shape. I’m kind of going in with open ears and eyes, not judging anything, just trying to figure out what works for me and go from there.”

Rangers beat

• The Rangers sent down four pitchers to Minor League camp: right-handers Miguel Del Pozo, Taylor Guerrieri and Michael Tonkin, and left-hander Brady Feigl. All four were in camp on Minor League contracts.

• Converted outfielder Jairo Beras made his first pitching appearance in a Cactus League game on Saturday. Beras, who switched from outfield to pitching in 2017, retired two hitters, including one by strikeout. His last pitch was at 97 mph.

“That was pretty impressive,” manager Chris Woodward said. “It was fun to watch. He’s a guy to keep an eye on.”

• Former Buffalo Bills and New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and current Chargers coach Anthony Lynn (no relation) were clubhouse guests of Lance Lynn on Saturday.

Up next

Left-hander Drew Smyly makes his third start of the spring when he pitches against the Giants at 3:05 p.m. CT on Sunday in Scottsdale. Smyly has not allowed a run over three innings in his first two outings. Jason Hammel is also scheduled to pitch for the Rangers.

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.