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Bush's rocky beginning leads to uneven start

Righty 'too inconsistent' but pleased with curveball vs. Reds
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Matt Bush wanted to throw a scoreless first inning, get his pitch count up to about 60 and continue to show he can transition into a starting pitcher.

He didn't get the first two goals accomplished, while the third remains an unknown. Bush went just two innings in a 6-3 loss to the Reds on Friday night after starting the game with a walk to Billy Hamilton and a two-run home run to Eugenio Suarez.

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Matt Bush wanted to throw a scoreless first inning, get his pitch count up to about 60 and continue to show he can transition into a starting pitcher.

He didn't get the first two goals accomplished, while the third remains an unknown. Bush went just two innings in a 6-3 loss to the Reds on Friday night after starting the game with a walk to Billy Hamilton and a two-run home run to Eugenio Suarez.

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Bush recovered after that, retiring six of the next eight hitters. He struck out three and walked two.

"I wasn't happy with it," Bush said. "I felt like I was way too inconsistent with my fastball. My arm feels really strong, just finding the consistency in the rhythm with my lower half, I feel like it's something to focus on. Really happy with my curveball. I threw a lot of them, pretty obvious, keeping them off-balance. Just not happy with the walks."

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Bush admitted he might have been over-throwing in the first inning.

"I tried to approach the first inning like I would in relief," Bush said. "I just wanted to put up a zero so I gave it all I got. Second inning, I toned it down a notch, little more within myself. Just got away from me a little bit."

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Bush said he was disappointed he didn't throw more pitches.

"I threw [approximately] 45 today, so I don't know what that means,' Bush said. "I know how it works getting ready for the season …45 pitches two times in a row doesn't seem right.

"Just show up every day and continue to work as a starter. That's where my mind has been this entire offseason. If I end up moving back, it's something I'd rather to know sooner than later because I feel like it is a mental block."

Manager Jeff Banister said the first inning contributed to Bush's short outing.

"He threw 20-plus [pitches] in the first inning," Banister said. "We have already said, in those type of situations, we are not going to challenge stressful situations with Bush or [Mike] Minor. A lot of factors there."

Fister works in camp
Doug Fister did his work Friday in a simulated game so Bush could start against the Reds. Fister, facing Minor League hitters, allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings with some erratic defense played behind him.

Fister finished with 60 pitches and accomplished what he needed to in the outing.

"Yeah, really kind of noticing some things that I need to work on and some small misses," Fister said. "But overall not a bad day. Really tried to get in good pace and good rhythm. I think the rhythm for me is the biggest thing and allows me to get in a good position that I know I need to be in and it kind of gets away from me sometimes.

"My misses are fairly small and I think that's a good sign for me. It's not midseason form yet, but that's OK because we're still in March. But I think it's on a good timeline right now."

Diekman finds rhythm
Left-hander reliever Jake Diekman also threw in the simulated game and retired four of the five batters faced. Diekman, who has a 6.75 ERA in Cactus League games, said his mechanics were much better in this outing.

"I feel like everything is in sync," Diekman said. ""Stuff gets out of sync. So, it's just an uphill battle when you go through it, but you have to go through it."

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Right-handed relievers Deolis Guerra and Connor Sadzeck also pitched in the game. Guerra retired all four batters he faced, while Sadzeck pitched two scoreless innings.

Kela, Claudio taking it slow
Alex Claudio made his third appearance of the spring on Friday night against the Reds and threw a scoreless inning. Keone Kela, who also has three appearances, did his throwing on the back field. Most of the Rangers' top relievers have four appearances this spring.

The Rangers are taking it slower with both pitchers after what they went through last season. Kela was on the disabled list twice last season with right shoulder inflammation, while Claudio led the Rangers with 70 appearances, including one emergency start. His 78 2/3 innings in relief were tied for the third most in the American League.

"Claudio, if you let him, would pitch an inning-plus every day," pitching coach Doug Brocail said.

Rangers beat 
• Rookie left-hander Yohander Mendez survived the first round of cuts. The Rangers have been impressed with the improvement he has shown with his fastball command and want to continue watching him. He allowed two runs in two innings against the Reds in relief of Bush.

• The Rangers have Martin Perez down for a Minor League game on Monday as he continues his recovery from a broken bone in his right elbow.

Delino DeShields was 1-for-3 against the Reds and is hitting .375 this spring, including eight hits in his last 17 at-bats.

Up next
Left-hander Minor pitches against the Athletics at 2:05 p.m. CT Saturday in Surprise. This will be Minor's third appearance in a Cactus League game and he has a 7.71 ERA. The Rangers should have many of their front-line players in the lineup, including shortstop Elvis Andrus, first baseman Joey Gallo and outfielder Nomar Mazara.

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, Matt Bush