Notes: Loe awakens just in time

Notes: Loe awakens just in time

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Kameron Loe could excuse his first inning in a Monday "B" game to the early starting time.

Loe gave up a run on two walks, a wild pitch and a single in the first inning of the Rangers' 6-3 victory over the Royals at Nolan Ryan Field.

"It took me certainly the first inning to get a feel out there," Loe said. "It is a little different to start to pitch at 10 a.m. instead of 1 o'clock, to give your body plenty of time to wake up and run.

"I had a little trouble with control the first inning, but the second inning I really settled down and got three ground balls. The third inning went 1-2-3, three ground balls, and I faced another hitter and struck him out."

Loe got the fourth out in the third because the Rangers wanted to increase his pitch count.

"Four up, four down," Loe said. "Hopefully, I won't have to do that during the regular season."

In an ironic twist, Loe retired just two batters in the first before the Rangers called a halt to the inning because of his high pitch count during the frame. Loe's final tally was 44 pitches, 28 for strikes. He retired the final seven batters he faced.

"You get a little more leeway pitching in these 'B' games," Loe said. "You feel like you get to work on things a little bit more. I threw a couple of changeups in situations that I wouldn't have, but it is really good right now for me to throw them and get used to that, to get a feel with that."

Loe is penciled in as the Rangers' No. 4 starter. He made 40 consecutive relief appearances last season after being recalled May 6 before moving into the rotation Aug. 26. He went 4-2 with a 2.70 ERA as a starter.

"I definitely prefer starting," Loe said. "I loved being in the bullpen last year. It was great for my career, great for my experience, great for my arm strength. It is just completely different having to get ready right now and go out there and throw pretty much as hard as you can or bring your best stuff right now as a reliever. They were throwing me in there when we were up by seven or down by seven. It was a situation where there was very little pressure on me. It did a lot for my confidence. They really eased me in correctly, I think."

Knuckling in: R.A. Dickey was scheduled for only a bullpen session, but received the OK from pitching coach Mark Connor to throw an inning in the "B" game. Dickey gave up a home run to Jared Price on a fastball, but liked his knuckleball.

"It was a really good day for me," Dickey said. "You take my fastballs away this spring and I've made some really good strides. That is what I've got to focus on. I learned from today. I had a great knuckleball today. I had a really good one the outing before and it has been a good spring for me from a knuckleball standpoint. That is what I've got to focus us."

Dickey said he needs to learn the sequences on when to throw his fastball and other pitches besides the knuckleball.

"I just want to manage counts with it," he said. "When to throw it? What counts are they looking for it? What counts aren't they? When are they guessing you are going to throw it? There's an element to this that can be learned. The important thing is the execution of what I'm trying to do daily. I'm executing throwing my knuckleball and throwing it for strikes, getting guys to swing and miss."

Dickey committed to throwing the knuckleball the final two months of last season.

"I've got to have some vision to it," he said. "I still have a lot to learn, but it's a positive outing for sure. All my outs were on the knuckleball."

Blalock update: Third baseman Hank Blalock, who did make the Tucson trip because of a tired arm, said it is nothing serious.

"It is just part of Spring Training soreness," Blalock said. "If this was during the season, I'd play through it."

Nix plays: Outfielder Laynce Nix, who had two shoulder operations last year, made his Spring Training debut as the DH in the "B" game. Nix, who has been also slowed by a hamstring injury in camp, went 1-for-2 with a double and walk.

Roster move: Right-hander Nick Regilio, a non-roster invite who did not pitch last season after June 23 because of a sore elbow, was reassigned to the Minor League camp, effective Tuesday.

Upcoming: Right-hander Josh Rupe, who is a candidate for the fifth slot in the rotation, will start Tuesday against the Cubs at Mesa. It's Rupe's second start of the spring. Greg Maddux will be the Cubs starter.

Alan Eskew is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.