Notes: Fifth spot in rotation up in air

Rangers notes: Back end of rotation uncertain

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Josh Rupe's bid to be the fifth starter may have just taken a turn for the worse, leaving that spot even more unsettled than before.

What is known is that Rupe has a sore elbow, Edison Volquez gave up two runs in four innings against the Kansas City Royals on Monday, John Danks is going to face Barry Bonds on Tuesday and the Angels will go up against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on Wednesday.

On the flip side, Thomas Diamond is probably fading from contention and the Rangers have determined he needs to start getting his work done in the Minor Leagues.

Rupe pitched 3 1/3 innings against the Mariners on Sunday, then showed up at camp on Monday with pain and stiffness in the right elbow. He has been sent back to Texas to be examined by Dr. Keith Meister and undergo an MRI.

"We'll see what the next two days bring and then we'll have a better feel for it," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "I'm sure he felt it [Sunday], but he didn't tell us until today. His velocity was less than normal. That's not unusual in Spring Training for a lot of people, but it was down."

While the Rangers await word from Meister, the evaluation of other candidates continue. Volquez was on stage Monday and pitching coach Mark Connor called it a "quality appearance" after he allowed two runs, one earned, in four innings while striking out one and not walking a batter in the Rangers' 3-2 loss to the Royals.

"Right now he's getting ahead of hitters and throwing three pitches for strikes," Connor said. "That's what a starting pitcher needs to do."

Danks gets a start Tuesday against the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale, while Adam Eaton pitches in a simulated game back in camp. The day after, Dickey gets a chance to display his knuckleball against the Angels.

C.J. Wilson may also re-enter the competition. Although he was set back by a hamstring injury early in camp, the Rangers feel he has time to build up to five or six innings by the start of the regular season.

Then there is Juan Dominguez, who will likely get his next chance on Friday in Tucson against the Chicago White Sox.

"It's the time of spring where guys are getting their arms in shape and their legs under them," Showalter said. "We'd like to see them start showing what they're capable of doing in their next couple of outings."

Millwood gives 'B' effort: Pitcher Kevin Millwood made his first appearance against another team Monday morning, allowing one run on three hits in four innings against the Mariners. He struck out four and did not walk a batter while throwing 58 pitches against a Seattle lineup that was all Minor Leaguers.

"The location of my fastball was better today, which is what I was looking for," Millwood said. "The things I'm working on are getting better every time out.

"The only thing left is getting my velocity up. I'm not worried about that. I'm not a guy who can throw 94-95 miles per hour early in the spring. Once my velocity is up, I'll be ready to go."

Millwood is scheduled to make his first A game appearance on Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Rangers won the B game, 6-4, mainly because they had most of the regulars available to them play, giving them a short day of work rather than playing in the A game against Kansas City. Of course, it also allowed them to face veteran left-hander Jamie Moyer.

Matthews backed off: Outfielder Gary Matthews, sidelined with a strained muscle in his right ribcage, is not close to returning. Instead, the Rangers are backing him down from swinging a bat for the next couple of days because of more soreness in the area.

"It's always been a concern," Showalter said. "But knowing the nature of the injury, it's been tough to handicap."

Matthews has been sidelined since the beginning of Spring Training and has not yet played in an A game. By the time he's completely healthy, he could be looking at less than two weeks to get ready for the regular season.

DeRosa at shortstop: Mark DeRosa started at shortstop during the B game while Ian Kinsler played second base, but Showalter made it clear he has not made a decision on his Opening Day starter.

"I have to be able to play those positions, regardless," DeRosa said. "I'm sure I'll play short, some third, the outfield. I'm not reading anything into it, I just know to maintain value, if I don't start at second base, I'll be a utility guy and move around."

More interesting were Kinsler's two at-bats against Moyer. In the first at-bat, Moyer fed Kinsler fastballs and changeups. Kinsler was patient and lined a single to center.

In the second at-bat, Moyer threw him a slow curve and Kinsler chased it out of the strike zone, hitting a weak ground ball.

"I just couldn't wait on it," Kinsler admitted. "He's a crafty. You want to wait on him and see a lot of pitches, but he's a guy who makes you get yourself out. The first time he sees you, he can make an adjustment. It's always fun to face those guys."

Other clubs scouting Castro: A number of other clubs are keeping an eye on Fabio Castro, the 20-year-old left-hander and a Rule 5 pick who pitched two scoreless innings, striking out four and walking two, against the Royals on Monday.

Under the terms of Rule 5, the Rangers would have to keep Castro on the Major League roster all season or expose him to outright waivers.

The Rangers strongly consider trying to find a way to compete him. Another possibility would be to trade him before the end of spring and let another team deal with the Rule 5 consequences. The Rangers actually acquired Castro in a trade with the Royals after they took him in the Rule 5 draft in December.

Briefly: The Rangers made two more cuts on Monday, sending pitcher Wes Littleton to Triple-A Oklahoma and pitcher Armando Galarraga to Double-A Frisco. ... Left-handed pitcher Clint Brannon, who was 9-7 with a 4.45 ERA in 29 games at Class A Bakersfield last year, has been sent to the Chicago Cubs as the player to be named later in the Jon Leicester trade. ... The Rangers were concerned but not alarmed that shortstop Michael Young had suffered a "mild" hamstring strain while playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. ... The Rangers are bringing over pitchers Michael Schlact, Zach Phillips and Jacob Rasnor from the Minor League camp to pitch in a simulated game.

Coming up: Danks, who has yet to give up a run this spring, makes his first start of the spring against the San Francisco Giants at 2:05 p.m. CT in Scottsdale. Barry Bonds is expected to DH for the Giants. Matt Morris starts for the Giants. Eaton will pitch in a simulated game back in camp.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.