Notes: Texas inquires about Thomson

Notes: Rangers seek a fifth starter

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers' quest for a fifth starter went external Friday. The Rangers are among several teams that have inquired about Braves starter John Thomson, and Major League officials say they believe he will be traded before Spring Training.

Those discussions occurred on Friday afternoon, before knuckleballer R.A. Dickey walked to the mound and turned in the best outing of the spring by any Rangers starter, regardless of rank.

The knuckleballer hurled six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and one walk, while striking out three in a 5-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs. No other Rangers starter has made it through five innings this spring.

"He pitched well," manager Buck Showalter said. "R.A. had good command, and he threw 14 out of 21 first pitch strikes. That's impressive. He did his part."

Showalter is not ready to anoint Dickey as his fifth starter as the team is still searching for other alternatives -- internally and externally -- including Thomson.

The Rangers and the Braves have not exchanged names, but Atlanta is looking for bullpen help. The Braves are expected to go with a starting rotation of Tim Hudson, John Smoltz, Horacio Ramirez, Jorge Sosa and Kyle Davies, leaving Thomson the odd man out.

The Rangers have grown increasingly concerned that a fifth starter has not emerged in camp. Juan Dominguez had the job coming into the camp, but has pitched his way out of the competition by the way he's performed this spring.

Edinson Volquez gets his shot on Monday, and the Rangers will send Dominguez back out there on Tuesday against the Oakland Athletics so that Kevin Millwood can do his work in a Triple-A game.

"I'm glad we're down to one spot in the rotation, and we've got time to decide," general manager Jon Daniels said. "It's time for them to show us something."

Dickey did just that on Friday. The Rangers must decide if they can trust a knuckleball pitcher in their rotation over some young talented and erratic arms.

"I was just more consistent," Dickey said. "Every outing I feel I have a better grip on things. I feel like if I'm in the starting rotation it's because I've improved to the point where Buck can trust me. He's the one who has the say."

Wilkerson's shoulder ailing: Brad Wilkerson's right shoulder is bothering him again, and he is scheduled to have it examined by Dr. Lewis Yokum, the Angels' team physician, on Saturday.

Wilkerson played with a sore shoulder all of last season and needed two cortisone shots, one during the season and one after. The Rangers held up the trade with the Washington Nationals in December, until they could have the shoulder examined.

"I rehabbed in the offseason, and it felt pretty good," Wilkerson said. "But lately it started acting up. It's disappointing, but hopefully we can get it taken care of. Certain things bother's hard to put a seat belt on."

Wilkerson took batting practice on Friday night, but did not play in the game. He's hitting .206 this spring.

"I feel all right, my swing just doesn't feel quite right," Wilkerson said. "In batting practice you can get away with a lot of stuff, but a game is different. I just want to get it calmed down and have the feeling mentally that I can go out and perform."

Matthews holds out hope: The odds increase daily that Gary Matthews Jr. will have to start the season on the disabled list with a strained right ribcage muscle. Daniels and Showalter have met with him and told him it may be a necessity. But Matthews is not ready to go on the DL.

"Not yet," Matthews said. "I'm going to keep working out. It would be great one day if I just woke up and was good to go It would definitely be pushing it, but I can get prepared for the season. At this point I just have to get healthy. It's definitely frustrating."

Matthews injury could open a spot for non-roster infielder D'Angelo Jimenez. Club officials confirmed he still has a good shot of making the team as a utility infielder, which would allow Mark DeRosa to be used in the outfield.

The other option would be to replace Matthews with another outfielder with either Adrian Brown or Adam Hyzdu or Erubiel Durazo, who could also be a pinch-hitter off the bench.

Mayberry gets start: The Rangers need outfielders, so they are going to take a look at John Mayberry Jr. for the first time this spring. Mayberry will be in the Rangers starting lineup and play nine innings against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday.

Wilson questionable for Opening Day: Left-hander C.J. Wilson has a spot in the Rangers bullpen if he's healthy, but the team isn't sure if it will be on Opening Day.

Wilson, scratched from his last outing with shoulder stiffness, had a good throwing session in the bullpen on Friday. The Rangers want to re-evaluate him on Saturday before deciding what the next step will be.

As far as Opening Day, Showalter said, "It will be close ... what you have to remember is that there are seven or eight months to the season. If we have to back Gary off, back C.J. off, we'll do that."

Team briefs: The Rangers have traded catcher Keith McDonald to the New York Yankees for a player to be named later...Jose Silva, still a candidate for long relief, was supposed to pitch on Friday night, but was scratched with the flu...The Rangers had a pre-game meeting with Steve Palermo, one of Major League Baseball's umpire supervisors and among the topics discussed was pace of game, wearing the uniform properly and pitchers throwing at hitters.

Coming up: Pitcher Vicente Padilla starts for the Rangers against the Colorado Rockies at 12:05 p.m. (MST) on Saturday at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson. Adam Eaton -- bumped back a day because of a bruised right arm -- is scheduled to pitch at least a couple of innings in a Minor League game back in Surprise.

Eaton's final start of Spring Training is scheduled for Wednesday against the San Diego Padres, and the Rangers are hoping he can throw 75-80 pitches in that game. That would put him about 20 pitches behind where he normally would be without getting hit in the arm by a line drive.

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