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Bush 'feels great' after latest rotation audition

Special to MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Hard-throwing Rangers right-hander Matt Bush made another step forward in his bid to become a starter on Saturday, tossing 45 pitches in 2 2/3 innings while allowing two earned runs on three hits and two walks in a 9-4 loss to the Giants.

Bush has been a late-inning reliever and sometimes-closer throughout his two Major League seasons, so transitioning to starting is no small feat, but Bush said he's committed completely to making the switch.

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Hard-throwing Rangers right-hander Matt Bush made another step forward in his bid to become a starter on Saturday, tossing 45 pitches in 2 2/3 innings while allowing two earned runs on three hits and two walks in a 9-4 loss to the Giants.

Bush has been a late-inning reliever and sometimes-closer throughout his two Major League seasons, so transitioning to starting is no small feat, but Bush said he's committed completely to making the switch.

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"I'm starting, and that's all I can look forward to," Bush said. "Show up every day, and that's the position that I'm in. That's what I'm working on."

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Bush allowed two solo homers and walked two batters, but he looked sharp in retiring three batters in a row in the fifth inning and said he was pleased with the outing.

"I felt outstanding. My body felt great, my arm feels great," he said. "I'm very happy to be able to throw that many pitches. [It was] the first time I've thrown that many innings since the '16 [Double-A] playoffs."

Pitch speed is not displayed on the scoreboard at Scottsdale Stadium, but Bush thought his velocity was on par with his better readings from recent years. He has consistently thrown in the 98-mph range since joining the Rangers.

"My fastball felt very powerful," he said. "I didn't have a very good feel on my curveball today, [but the] slider felt great. I threw a couple changeups. I felt like the speed differential was great. I wouldn't be surprised if [the fastball velocity] was high."

Holland hopes to find fit with Giants
Former Rangers lefty Derek Holland pitched 2 2/3 innings and got the win Saturday, allowing one earned run on five hits and striking out four. Holland, who spent the first eight years of his career in Texas, is trying to come back from a dismal 2017 in which he went 7-14 with a 6.20 ERA in 29 appearances (26 starts) for the White Sox. Holland signed a Minor League deal with San Francisco and is vying for one of the final two spots in the rotation, or perhaps even a bullpen role.

"It's win or maybe find another job or go home," Holland said. "I've got to keep competing. I feel like I'm doing my job right now, just challenging the hitters when I can, get after them and make the most of them. I've got to go out there every single time, show I'm healthy, show I've still got what it takes to compete. ... It's always good to face your buddies, but at the same time, I'm trying to get them out."

Hood could see time at first
Outfielder Destin Hood, a dual-sport star in high school who was recruited by the University of Alabama to play football and baseball, earned praise from Banister on Saturday. Hood is a long shot to make the Rangers' Opening Day roster, but his versatility may help. Hood is normally a corner outfielder but could also play center field and first base.

"He's showing up well, isn't he?" Banister said. "This is a high school receiver recruited to be a receiver at Alabama. I'm guessing his feet are pretty good. … He brought that [he could play first] to our coaches, we're looking at it, entertaining it, working with him, and we'll quite possibly get him into a game over there at some point just to see what he looks like."

Hood did not start Saturday's game against the Giants but played in six of the first eight games, going 3-for-11 (.273) with two doubles and three RBIs. Hood has spent most of the past 11 seasons in the Minor Leagues, breaking into the Majors briefly in 2016 with Miami, where he appeared in 13 games and batted .240 (6-for-25).

Injury update
Shortstop Elvis Andrus reported feeling great after his first spring action Friday and should begin to play regularly soon, assistant GM Jayce Tingler said. Andrus, who did not play Saturday, missed most of the first week of games with back spasms.

"He was excited about the way he felt after his first game," Tingler said.

Infielder Trevor Plouffe (intercostal strain) is hoping to return Monday. He appeared in the Rangers' first spring game against the Rockies on Feb. 25, going 0-for-2, and hasn't played since.

Up next
Doug Fister will make his first Cactus League start for the Rangers when they return to Surprise Stadium to take on the Mariners and lefty James Paxton on Sunday. Mike Minor, another new member of the Rangers' rotation, is scheduled to follow Fister. The 2:05 p.m. CT contest will be available on Gameday Audio.

Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com.

Texas Rangers, Matt Bush