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Perez continues to eye Opening Day return

Expected to be out until mid-to-late April, Rangers lefty set for live BP
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Martin Perez will join Cole Hamels, Doug Fister and Jonathon Niese in throwing live batting practice Tuesday morning. Their work will be done on the back field before the Cactus League game against the Dodgers.

Perez is scheduled to throw 45 pitches as he continues his recovery from a broken radial bone in the tip of his right elbow. The injury occurred in December on his ranch in Venezuela and was supposed to keep him out until mid-to-late April.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Martin Perez will join Cole Hamels, Doug Fister and Jonathon Niese in throwing live batting practice Tuesday morning. Their work will be done on the back field before the Cactus League game against the Dodgers.

Perez is scheduled to throw 45 pitches as he continues his recovery from a broken radial bone in the tip of his right elbow. The injury occurred in December on his ranch in Venezuela and was supposed to keep him out until mid-to-late April.

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Perez continues to show he is accelerating the process in time to be ready for Opening Day. He is expected to start taking pitcher's fielding practice this week.

"I keep telling you that I'm going to be ready," Perez said.

The Rangers prefer to take the cautious route.

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"I know Martin has been adamant that he is going to miss no time," manager Jeff Banister said. "I love that about Martin. For us, on the conservative side, let's make sure he is ready. We need him for the entire season. If he hits all the marks for us, I don't see any reason other than setbacks along the way or we are uncomfortable where he is medically to be able to go. He's doing great. We feel good where he is."

Hamels and Fister are also down for 45 pitches and the Rangers prefer they do their work on the back field rather than pitching in the Cactus League.

With Niese, the Rangers are taking a more conservative approach. He missed all of last season while undergoing surgery on his left knee and the club doesn't want to push it.

"We want to make sure he is healthy and ready to go and the manager signs off on it," Banister said.

Top relievers to see A games

The Rangers are changing their spring approach with their top relievers. Last year those pitchers did much of their work in B and Minor League games. This year they will get more work in the Cactus League games.

Pitching coach Doug Brocail admitted last year's program may have contributed to the bullpen troubles during the regular season. Brocail said getting them back into A games allows him, Banister and assistant pitching coach Dan Warthen to watch them closely.

"Are there going to be B games? Yes," Brocail said. "But right now we want to get our arms around these guys and see where they are."

Choo, Calhoun outfield plans

Shin-Soo Choo started at designated hitter for the second straight game Monday in a 9-6 loss to the Dodgers, but Banister said he will play outfield at some point.

Video: Outlook: Choo has solid OBP thanks to his sharp eye

"He is an outfielder for us," Banister said. "He is going to DH for us but we have to log time for him in the outfield. Keep his legs ready and keep him athletic. It would be bad preparation on our part if he didn't play the outfield."

Willie Calhoun is playing left field, but has yet to start there. Ryan Rua was in left for the second straight game. Banister said Calhoun is getting a lot of early work in the outfield before the games.

"We are putting a huge workload on him to get him up to speed," Banister said. "A lot of it is on the back fields."

Rangers beat

• The Rangers have yet to put Adrian Beltre in a game, but he is taking it slowly and feeling good. Beltre said he only needs 15-20 at-bats to be ready. Banister added: "He has been doing this long enough to know. I am not going to argue with him. It's about getting the body ready."

Video: Beltre on having strongest team possible

• Third baseman Trevor Plouffe was scratched from Monday's starting lineup with tightness in his left intercostal muscle. He is day to day and was replaced by Christian Lopes.

Up next

Jesse Chavez will start against the Dodgers at 2:05 p.m. CT on Tuesday in Glendale, Ariz. This will be Chavez's first time on the mound after signing with the Rangers last week. Ariel Jurado is also scheduled to pitch.

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, Adrian Beltre, Willie Calhoun, Shin-Soo Choo, Martin Perez