Notes: Dominguez out in rotation battle

Notes: Dominguez out in rotation battle

PHOENIX -- Juan Dominguez crashed and burned his way out of the Rangers' rotation on Wednesday.

Edinson Volquez wasn't much better but is still in the mix.

The two fifth-starter candidates combined to give up 10 runs in seven innings in a 10-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers and the big winner in the pitch-off was R.A. Dickey.

Dickey will get his chance to make a strong bid to be the fifth starter when he pitches against the Chicago Cubs on Friday. A good outing would do wonders for him and the Rangers after what manager Buck Showalter had to watch Wednesday.

"Edinson and Juan both struggled today," Showalter said. "We've got some other options besides those guys."

Volquez allowed five runs in two-plus innings, giving up five hits and three walks.

"Bad day ... bad day for me," Volquez said.

"He didn't have his fastball, breaking ball or changeup," veteran reliever Antonio Alfonseca said. "I saw him in the bullpen and said uh-oh."

Alfonseca got the Rangers through the third inning before Dominguez took over in the fourth. Dominguez made it through 3 1/3 innings and also gave up five runs, on six hits and three walks. For the third straight game, he gave up two home runs.

"Today didn't go very well for me," Dominguez said.

The entire spring has not. He has an 8.25 ERA for the spring and has taken himself out of contention. He is expected to start the season at Triple-A Oklahoma.

Volquez has had a couple of strong outings earlier this spring and will likely get one more chance against the Seattle Mariners on Monday. But right now the fifth-starter spotlight switches to Dickey on Friday.

"I just want someone who I can trust," Showalter said.

Eaton watch: Adam Eaton was asked about his chances of starting against the Cubs on Friday.

"Highly doubtful," he said.

And what about April 4 against the Boston Red Sox?

"Guaranteed," Eaton said.

Eaton tested his bruised right arm in a flat-ground throwing session in Surprise on Wednesday and continues to report significant improvement. Eaton wanted to get on the mound but pitching coach Mark Connor decided against it.

Instead, Eaton will throw in the bullpen Thursday, miss Friday's start against the Cubs and pitch a couple of innings in a Minor League game on Saturday.

That would allow him to make his final start of the spring against the Padres next Wednesday and then open the season as the Rangers' No. 2 starter.

Roster musings: One way to keep Rule 5 Draft pick Fabio Castro would be to go with an eight-man bullpen and one less player on the bench. That might be a possibility if Gary Matthews Jr. starts the season on the disabled list with a strained rib cage muscle.

The Rangers would then start the season with a bench of Gerald Laird, Mark DeRosa and Laynce Nix, and have extra time to evaluate Castro, who has to be on the 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the Chicago White Sox.

Matthews, still trying to come back from the injury, confined his Wednesday workout to the weight room. Nix is healthy but not at full strength throwing and has not played the field in an "A" game.

"Hopefully Laynce and Gary will get out there soon," general manager Jon Daniels said. "It will come down to how many games they're comfortable with and how many we're comfortable with. It's not ideal. We'd like guys healthy. We need to see guys healthy before we break camp. Laynce is healthy, he's just working [his arm] into shape."

Wilson much better: Pitcher C.J. Wilson reported significant improvement in his left shoulder on Wednesday and is expected to resume throwing on Thursday.

Wilson had trouble warming up in cold weather on Wednesday and the Rangers decided to scratch him from an outing in a Minor League game.

Wilson has the inside track to be the second left-hander in the bullpen behind Brian Shouse, but the Rangers want to make sure.

They have a surplus of left-handed relievers in camp, a list that includes Kevin Walker, Erasmo Ramirez and Ron Mahay, and at least a half-dozen teams have called and inquired about them. The Rangers don't want to do anything until they're sure about Wilson.

World champion returns: Reliever Akinori Otsuka rejoined the Rangers on Wednesday, getting congratulations all around when he walked into the clubhouse after helping the Japanese win the World Baseball Classic.

Otsuka was the Japanese closer during the tournament and got the final five outs in the victory over Cuba in the championship game.

"My greatest moment ever," Otsuka said. "Japanese are very emotional and that was the happiest day of my life."

Otsuka said he got so many messages of congratulations that it filled up his cell phone message center. He also had around 500 people post congratulations on his Web page. Greater glory would await in Japan but won't get that chance right away.

"I'd like to go back to Japan but I have to practice here and get my work for the season," Otsuka said.

Otsuka, acquired from the Padres in the offseason, was with the Rangers a couple of days in February before joining the Japanese team. He allowed one run on two hits in 5 2/3 innings in the tournament, walking two and striking out eight.

"I'm ready," Otsuka said. "This tournament was good for me. Every year, March to May, I'm getting in shape and June, July and August, I'm at my best. Right now I'm 100 percent in my mind, mentally, and my body."

Briefly: Catcher Rod Barajas reported improvement in the soreness he experienced in his knee on Tuesday and is not expected to miss any significant time. ... Mark Teixeira had an infield single on Wednesday to snap and 0-for-24 skid. ... Rangers pitchers did not strike out a batter against the Brewers. Tomo Ohka started for the Brewers and struck out the first four Rangers batters he faced.

Coming up: Right-hander Kevin Millwood pitches against the White Sox at 2:05 p.m. CT at Surprise Stadium. This will be his second "A" game outing of the spring. He allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Diamondbacks earlier this spring. Hideo Nomo will pitch for the White Sox.

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