Notes: Bullpen a work in progress

Notes: Bullpen a work in progress

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers bullpen isn't set yet, but the candidates keep dropping away.

Left-hander Ron Mahay, who is signed for $1 million this season, was reassigned to the Minor Leagues on Friday, leaving 14 potential relievers in camp trying to win one of seven jobs.

Four candidates are on the team: closer Francisco Cordero, right-handers Joaquin Benoit and Akinori Otsuka, and left-hander Brian Shouse. Right-hander Antonio Alfonseca is close to making it five.

Left-hander C.J. Wilson could win a spot as the second left-hander if he shows that his shoulder is healthy. He is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

"It will be close," said manager Buck Showalter. "We want to see recovery, how he feels the next day [after he pitches] and the crispness of his stuff, how he feels that day and the next."

Showalter wants two left-handers in the bullpen. Erasmo Ramirez, who is out of options and must clear waivers before being sent to the Minors, would be one alternative. The other would be Fabio Castro, the 20-year-old Rule 5 Draft pick whom the Rangers still have in camp.

Alfonseca has a "leg up" for a spot as a right-handed reliever, although Jose Silva and Jon Leicester are still in camp.

Silva, who has been a starter at the Major League level, has a shot at the final spot, which would be the long reliever. John Wasdin is another candidate for that role.

It is also a role the Rangers might entrust to Castro as a way to keep him on the roster for the entire season.

Contract status complicates situations. Alfonseca can take free agency if he is not placed on the 25-man roster at the end of spring, and Ramirez could be lost to waivers. There is a dire need for left-handed relievers in baseball.

"We have a confident feeling for what Razor [Ramirez] can bring," said Showalter. "We have some tough calls to make."

Fifth starter watch: The Rangers are moving R.A. Dickey into a slot that would allow him to begin the season as the fifth starter.

Dickey pitched on Friday night against the Chicago Cubs and will come back on three days' rest to face the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday. Juan Dominguez is starting that game, and Dickey will follow.

Edinson Volquez pitches on Monday against the Seattle Mariners. General manager Jon Daniels has been working the phones, but so have other clubs, and right now it appears that the Rangers will have to get their fifth starter from within.

"I've made calls and received calls," said Daniels. "A lot of notes and a lot of conversations. But at this point I don't expect anything to materialize."

DeRosa could platoon in left: The outfield awaits Mark DeRosa now that Showalter has named Ian Kinsler as the team's starting second baseman.

With Gary Matthews headed for the disabled list, DeRosa could end up platooning with David Dellucci in left field.

"That's something we're looking at," said Showalter. "A lot depends on how we're constructing our club at the end of the spring."

DeRosa played 25 games in the outfield last year and also batted .322 against left-handers, the second-highest average on the team for a player with at least 50 at-bats against southpaws.

"If Ian is going to be the everyday second baseman, I still feel I can contribute in a lot of areas on the team," said DeRosa. "I want to be a part of this. Last year I played the outfield and was serviceable. Hopefully, I can get the opportunity to get some playing time out there."

As far as Kinsler winning the job, DeRosa said, "It wasn't a surprise. He's had a good spring. He deserves to get a chance to play every day. He's done all he could do in the Minors and come in here two straight springs and handled himself well on the field and in the clubhouse."

If DeRosa is needed in the outfield, the Rangers will likely need an extra infielder, and may keep D'Angelo Jimenez.

Outfield MASH unit: Brad Wilkerson received an injection in his sore right shoulder from Dr. Keith Meister on Sunday, and the Rangers are hoping he'll be back in the lineup by Wednesday. He is also expected to be ready for Opening Day.

Wilkerson also underwent an MRI, and Meister saw no change in the shoulder from what a physical showed back in December.

Matthews (ribcage muscle) felt good taking batting practice but is still likely to start the season on the disabled list. He has yet to play in a game, and there are no plans to get him in one any time soon.

With Matthews sidelined, the Rangers hope that Laynce Nix (shoulder surgery) will be ready. Nix went 1-for-4 with a single on Sunday and is hitting .190 for the spring.

"Laynce is coming on," said Showalter. "He's more confident swinging. I don't see him grinding it mentally."

Change for Loe: The Rangers like what they've seen from No. 4 starter Kameron Loe this spring, and one reason is the changeup he has developed.

Loe was a classic sinker/slider pitcher, but pitching coach Mark Connor likes his starters to be able to throw three pitches for strikes. So Loe has worked hard on adding the changeup, and he likes how it feels.

"I'm throwing strikes, and I struck out a guy today with it," said Loe. "I'm throwing it with a lot of confidence. I feel it's an above-average weapon."

Loe, who has a 4.22 ERA, will make one more spring start. On Friday he will face the Florida Marlins before his first start of the season, on April 6 against the Detroit Tigers.

In brief: Vicente Padilla was given Sunday off. He had to pitch last Monday in a Minor League game while the rest of the team was off. ... Third baseman Hank Blalock was limited to three at-bats on Sunday because of some back stiffness.

Coming up: Right-hander Volquez, who has a 4.91 ERA this spring, pitches against the Mariners at 8:05 p.m. CT at Surprise Stadium on Monday. This is a big start for Volquez, who is trying to land a spot as the fifth starter. Gil Meche pitches for the Mariners. The game will be broadcast on KRLD 1080/AM and Fox Sports Southwest.

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