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Kirkman hoping solid start leads to roster spot

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- With 28 days remaining until Texas opens the season against the in-state and divisional foe Houston, it may be a bit early to set specific individual goals. However, Michael Kirkman currently has one goal in mind, and it has been driving him this spring.

"My goal is to be on the roster March 31 in Houston," Kirkman said. "If I make the team then I might start looking ahead, but right now [my focus] is to be on this roster."

Kirkman, who has been a part of the Rangers organization since he was drafted in 2005, is coming off of a 2012 season in which he appeared in 28 games and posted a 3.82 ERA.

It remains early in Spring Training, but the left-hander is building off of last season and has appeared in two games, pitched four scoreless innings and allowed just two hits.

"I feel like I've had a solid start," Kirkman said. "I still have a lot of room to work with. There is a lot of time left in camp, but I'm headed in a good direction right now."

When discussing his bullpen Saturday, manager Ron Washington said the younger players in the bullpen need to step up in 2013. The 26-year-old Kirkman was mentioned specifically.

Kirkman, who is working on pounding the strike zone and smoothing out his mechanics this spring, embraces the challenge.

However, Kirkman knows that although he has Washington's attention, nothing about the projected bullpen is secure because there is plenty of talent and depth to go around.

"There are a lot of guys with really good arms here," Kirkman said. "[The bullpen] is going to be pretty dang good."