SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have released veteran pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, clearing the way for right-hander A.J. Griffin to be the fifth starter.Right-handers Nick Martinez and Phil Klein and left-hander Cesar Ramos are still in camp. But Griffin, in camp on a Minor League contract, is starting for the Rangers
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have released veteran pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, clearing the way for right-hander A.J. Griffin to be the fifth starter.
Right-handers Nick Martinez and Phil Klein and left-hander Cesar Ramos are still in camp. But Griffin, in camp on a Minor League contract, is starting for the Rangers on Tuesday against the White Sox. That is the slot for the fifth member of the Rangers rotation between Derek Holland and Opening Day starter Cole Hamels.
Manager Jeff Banister confirmed the Rangers' most likely roster configuration on Opening Day is to have four starters and eight relievers on the pitching staff with a four-man bench behind the nine starting position players. The 25-man Opening Day roster must be set Sunday.
One plausible scenario is to have Martinez or another reliever in the bullpen for the first four games of the season and then option him to Round Rock on April 8, when it's time to add Griffin to the rotation.
"We are looking at all scenarios and continuing to evaluate them," Banister said. "We are still having conversations on which is the best way to go."
Griffin has a 4.40 ERA in three Cactus League starts and two relief appearances. He may have pushed ahead of the pack in his last start, holding the Athletics to one run in five innings. He allowed four hits, walked one and struck out four.
Guthrie had a 5.14 ERA in three Cactus League outings. His last start was in a Triple-A game, and he allowed three runs -- all on solo homers -- in five innings. He declined an opportunity to pitch in Triple-A and instead will look for a Major League job.
"The situation being what it was, we liked the way Jeremy competed throughout Spring Training," Banister said. "But we felt like we have a few other options in that role. Jeremy's command was probably not where he wanted this spring. He is still a veteran presence on the mound who can manage a baseball and get outs. The situation at this time is he is not a fit on the 25-man roster."
There still is competition left to be decided before Opening Day. Contract implications are prominent in all cases:
• Left-handed reliever Andrew Faulkner vs. Sam Freeman. Faulkner has had a great spring but has options. Freeman is out of options.
• Backup catcher Chris Gimenez is on the 40-man roster. Michael McKenry and Bobby Wilson are not. There is a chance of a trade, with Tigers catcher Bryan Holaday being one possibility.
• Fourth outfielder Justin Ruggiano vs. Ryan Rua. Ruggiano is also out of options but has shown he can play first. Rua has done everything possible to make the team but has options.
• Utility infielder Hanser Alberto vs. Pedro Ciriaco. Both have had great camps, but Alberto is on the 40-man and Ciriaco is not.
"We feel good we will take the appropriate players even with their contract situations and still maintain our flexibility," Banister said. "It's always challenging when you want to maintain flexibility, have enough depth and take the right 25. There are a lot of different implications. We still have the opportunity to wait."
• Outfielder Drew Stubbs could make the team as a fifth outfielder but has been dealing with some soreness at the base of his neck.
• Right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish, recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, threw 40 pitches in a bullpen session Monday. Darvish threw 20 pitches, sat for five minutes and threw 20 more pitches.
• Shawn Tolleson is scheduled to pitch against the White Sox on Tuesday. It will be his fourth outing in a Cactus League game.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.