SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers are expected to face Astros right-hander Justin Verlander on March 29 at Globe Life Park in Arlington.If they do, Drew Robinson could be the Opening Day left fielder for the Rangers."It would be awesome," Robinson said. "I put a lot of work in during the
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers are expected to face Astros right-hander Justin Verlander on March 29 at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
If they do, Drew Robinson could be the Opening Day left fielder for the Rangers.
"It would be awesome," Robinson said. "I put a lot of work in during the offseason and Spring Training. It would be huge for me, a huge confidence booster and a lot of fun."
The Rangers are also expected to see left-hander Dallas Keuchel in the second game, which would possibly mean Ryan Rua in left. With Willie Calhoun having been optioned to Triple-A Round Rock, the Rangers are looking at a possible platoon of Rua and Robinson in left field.
"If that's what is best for the team and puts us in the best situation, we'll both be ready," Rua said. "He's left, I'm a right-handed hitter, we're both athletic, play the outfield, run well. If that's what it is, we'll both be ready to take it on."
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The matter is not settled. The Rangers are still looking hard at Destin Hood, a right-handed hitter who is 6-for-19 with four doubles and a home run after Thursday's 6-5 win over the Brewers. Carlos Tocci is also in camp and he may be the Rangers' best defensive outfielder.
The Rangers don't expect to go outside the organization for outfield help.
"Similar situation coming into camp," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We talked about giving opportunities to guys who have earned it and been here and have time. Robinson, Rua and Tocci fall into that mix. We'll continue to look at it. We are going to prioritize defense and look to support our pitching staff as best we can."
Lincecum, Perez, Holland pitching watch
The latest on the Rangers' pitching …
• Timothy Lincecum threw back-to-back bullpen sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. The next step is live batting practice. There is no timetable to get him into a game and it's still unknown if he'll be ready for Opening Day.
"It's hard to put a time stamp on it," Lincecum said. "I'm trying to feel it out and they are giving me a leash to do it. I basically want to feel right rather than rushed."
• Martin Perez threw a bullpen session without issue on Thursday. He will start a game on Sunday, although the Rangers haven't decided if it will be in the Cactus League against the Angels or a Minor League game.
• The Rangers aren't currently pursuing free agent reliever Greg Holland. Daniels said he believes the Rangers will find a closer among the players in camp.
"I don't expect to have any significant additions," Daniels said.
Blackburn, Neise, Herrera injury report
• Right-hander Clayton Blackburn has been diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow by Dr. Keith Meister. He will stop throwing for 4-6 weeks and then be re-evaluated. The Rangers are hoping Blackburn can avoid season-ending surgery and be back by the end of June or early July.
• Right-hander Ronald Herrera, who was acquired in November from the Yankees, had an injection into his right shoulder to help alleviate the pain and inflammation. He has been dealing with that since last summer and the Rangers expect him to be down 4-6 weeks. He has not yet pitched in a Cactus League game.
• Left-hander Jonathon Niese, who has been limited to bullpen work because of a surgically-repaired left knee, has developed a strained muscle in his left shoulder. He has also yet to appear in a Cactus League game and is looking to be down at least 4-6 weeks.
Nicholas is back
Catcher Brett Nicholas was back with the Rangers on Thursday, eight days after he was designated for assignment. Nicholas is from Phoenix, so he stayed home and continued to work out while waiting to hear if another club would claim him.
"You don't have any control over it and catchers are control freaks," Nicholas said. "The hard part is sitting around and waiting for a phone call. You just want to be back in any facility, especially this one. I told my mom to stop calling me so many times."
Nicholas is one of four catchers in camp with big league experience who are trying to win a spot as the backup catcher. The others are Juan Centeno, Curt Casali and Mike Ohlman. Centeno is the only one on the 40-man roster and is also out of options.
• The Rangers have set their starters for Saturday's doubleheader against the Royals. Bartolo Colon will pitch the first game and rookie left-hander Yohander Mendez will start the second game. Jesse Chavez will pitch in relief of Mendez.
• Elvis Andrus was 2-for-3 against the Brewers on Thursday and is 9-for-18 on the spring.
• Adrian Beltre, who also got a late start to the Cactus League, was 1-for-3 on Thursday and is 5-for-13 this spring.
The Rangers host the Mariners at Surprise Friday, with first pitch at 3:05 p.m. CT. Matt Moore starts for Texas, while Mike Leake will be on the mound for Seattle. Fans can listen live on Gameday Audio, or an exclusive audio webcast.
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.