Notes: Nix gets out in the field

Notes: Nix gets out in the field

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Laynce Nix is back in the Rangers' outfield. Now he has nine more days to show the Rangers where he will fit on Opening Day.

Nix, who has been brought along carefully this spring because of surgery on both of his shoulders, played center field in an "A" game for the first time this spring in a 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

"It was a good first step for him," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said.

Nix caught three balls in center but that's not the issue. The last piece of his game to come has been his throwing. Nix, when he is healthy, has one of the stronger arms in the game and it's always been considered a major asset for him.

Nix, who played the outfield in two Minor League games, is not 100 percent yet and he was not tested by any runners on Thursday.

"The arm feels good, good enough to play in a game," Nix said. "I'm just going to do everything normal and find out what my capability is.

"If I need to make a throw, I'm going to come up and throw the ball like I'm trying to get somebody out."

The Rangers have been going with an outfield of David Dellucci in left, Brad Wilkerson in center and Kevin Mench in right, and that should be the way they line up against Curt Schilling and the Red Sox on April 3.

Gary Matthews Jr., still sidelined with a strained right oblique muscle, is expected to start the season on the disabled list. He has yet to play in an exhibition game and isn't expected to any time soon.

"We've discussed it," Showalter said about using the disabled list for Matthews. "We're not there yet but it's something we've talked about."

That leaves Nix and the Rangers needing to find out what exactly he can do in a regular-season game.

"He'll get to full throttle," Showalter said. "He's close, it's just the everyday pounding. As long as he's not experiencing any discomfort or setbacks, we'll take it day-by-day."

The Rangers aren't sure how they'll replace Matthews on the active roster. They could take an eighth reliever such as Rule 5 Draft pick Fabio Castro, an extra outfielder in Adrian Brown or Adam Hyzdu, or Erubiel Durazo as a pinch-hitter off the bench.

The fact that Mark DeRosa can play the outfield may give the Rangers the ability to keep Castro.

"There's a lot of different ways to do it," Showalter said. "That's something we'll sit down and discuss."

Dickey, Volquez under the lights: R.A. Dickey and Edinson Volquez go under the lights in an attempt to win the fifth-starter spot.

Dickey is up first, pitching against the Chicago Cubs on Friday night at Surprise Stadium, and Volquez pitches Monday night against the Seattle Mariners.

With the exception of an exhibition against Japan, these are the only two night games the Rangers play in Arizona, and they should put some illumination on the fifth spot.

Juan Dominguez, with an 8.25 ERA this spring, has dropped out of the competition, leaving Dickey with an opening if he can pitch well Friday.

"It's an audition for him," pitching coach Mark Connor said. The Rangers are hoping Dickey can control his knuckleball and throw it for strikes.

"I feel I've grown into a way where I feel consistent with it," Dickey said. "I feel, for the most part, it's going to be a very usable pitch in the big leagues."

Volquez got roughed up in a start against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday, giving up five runs in three innings. But it was also his first start in nine days, with only an inning of relief in between.

The Rangers think that may have thrown him out of whack and want to give him another shot.

"We want to keep in mind that up until Wednesday he had pitched pretty well," Showalter said. "We'd like to see him right the ship."

Millwood hones in on Opening Day: Kevin Millwood's stay in Arizona is near a quiet and uneventful end. When he leaves here, it will be without having pitched at least five innings in an exhibition game.

Millwood made it through 4 1/3 innings against the White Sox on Thursday, allowing three runs on six hits. Some bad defense kept him from finishing the fifth inning.

He pitched 4 2/3 innings in his only other start in an "A" game. Most of his work has been in camp games, and that will be the case in his final outing of the spring. His spot comes up on Tuesday but instead of facing the Oakland Athletics, he'll pitch in a Minor League game on Tuesday.

He is also planning to pitch just three innings.

"I've never been a good Spring Training pitcher, and I think one of the reasons is I don't try to win ballgames," Millwood said. "I go out and work on things and make sure my pitches are where they need to be. I pitch guys differently here than I would in the regular season."

Millwood starts against the Red Sox on April 3.

"We're real happy with Kevin this spring," Showalter said. "He's healthy, feels good, all his pitches are there, he hasn't missed a beat. We like what he's done in his career and he has continued on that path."

Briefly: Showalter said C.J. Wilson has been ruled out as a fifth-starter candidate because of his physical setbacks this spring. Wilson is still a strong candidate for the bullpen. ... Closer Francisco Cordero pitched a scoreless inning against the White Sox and Showalter said, "He's in good shape. I feel a lot more comfortable that when he gets to regular-season level, he'll be a lot more confident. He's 94-95 [mph] and he's not tentative with his breaking ball. ... The Rangers cut 14 players from Minor League camp. The player taken highest in the draft was outfielder Billy Susdorf, a sixth-round pick in 2004. ... The Rangers had committed 11 errors in their first 19 games until third baseman Hank Blalock made three in one inning Thursday.

Coming up: Dickey pitches for the Rangers against the Chicago Cubs at 8:05 p.m. CT on Friday at Surprise Stadium. Adam Eaton was supposed to pitch this game but has been pushed back a day because of a bruise on his right arm. The game will be broadcast by KRLD 1080/AM.

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