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Bush transition begins with solid spring start

Rangers righty strikes out one in two scoreless innings
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Matt Bush starting project has been launched in Spring Training and he is still determined to win a spot in the Rangers' rotation.

Bush pitched two scoreless innings in a 4-2 victory over the Rockies on Sunday afternoon. It was the first time Bush has been the starting pitcher in a game -- not counting one Minor League rehab assignment eight years ago -- since Mission Bay High played in the 2004 California Interscholastic Federation baseball championship.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Matt Bush starting project has been launched in Spring Training and he is still determined to win a spot in the Rangers' rotation.

Bush pitched two scoreless innings in a 4-2 victory over the Rockies on Sunday afternoon. It was the first time Bush has been the starting pitcher in a game -- not counting one Minor League rehab assignment eight years ago -- since Mission Bay High played in the 2004 California Interscholastic Federation baseball championship.

Bush won that game and went 5-for-5 at the plate. On Sunday, he settled for 28 pitches over two innings, allowing one hit and striking out one.

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"It was exciting for me," Bush said. "I was really looking forward to it, trying to time [pregame] things correctly, getting out there, stretching, playing catch, bullpen stuff leading up to the game. I love it, I hope that can continue."

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The Rangers are a month away from breaking camp and it may take that long to figure out the composition of their pitching staff. Bush still has much work ahead of him. He needs to build up stamina and admitted he was a little out of sync pitching from the windup. He threw a couple of good changeups Sunday, but still needs to refine that third pitch to go with the fastball and curve.

"The ability to throw more changeups is going to be a necessity for him," manager Jeff Banister said.

The competition has also increased for spots in the Rangers rotation since Spring Training started. The Rangers have added Bartolo Colon and Jesse Chavez to a mix that already includes Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, Doug Fister, Matt Moore and Mike Minor. Veteran Jonathon Niese is another candidate.

"Added players is out of my control," Bush said. "What's in my control is what I can do. I was told that I am going to be given the go at starting and that is where my mindset is. Not what somebody else is doing."

Bush started the day by retiring the Rockies in order in the first on three straight grounders. Trevor Story led off the second with a triple, but Bush came back and struck out David Dahl.

"The reliever mentality kicked in there," Bush said.

Pat Valaika followed with a slow bouncer to first baseman Joey Gallo, who threw home and cut down Story trying to score. Mike Tauchman followed with a hard grounder in the left-side hole but shortstop Darwin Barney made a nice backhanded play to get the final out.

Up next

Left-hander Mike Minor takes the mound against the Dodgers at 2 p.m. CT on Monday in Surprise. Listen to the game on an exclusive audiocast on rangers.com. This will be Minor's first start of the spring as he attempts to win a spot in the Rangers' rotation. Nomar Mazara is also expected to be in the Rangers' lineup for their third Cactus League game.

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.

Matt Bush