Rangers' Wilson sticks to game plan

Rangers' Wilson sticks to game plan

PHOENIX -- Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux likes what he has seen from the club's starters so far this spring. He just wants to see more of it.

"I've seen some good things out there, but I've seen some things that we need to work on. But that's why we are here," Maddux said. "From what I have seen from most of the guys ... they know what they can do, they know what their strengths are and what they need to work on."

Exhibit A: C.J. Wilson.

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On Friday against Oakland, Wilson had a plan and he stuck with it. The left-hander threw fastballs and changeups in the first inning. In the second, he threw sinkers and curveballs. In his final inning, he threw curveballs, changeups and finished with fastballs.

Wilson said he has tweaked his changeup, and is hoping to make it a strikeout pitch.

"I'm always trying to improve," Wilson said. "I'm never satisfied with good. I want to be rad."

In three innings of work, Wilson gave up five hits and three earned runs, including a three-run home run by Kevin Kouzmanoff in the first inning. He walked two batters and struck out one to lift his ERA to 7.20. He faced 16 hitters in the 56-pitch outing.

"I feel like my slider and my cutter are my two best offspeed pitches, so I put them in the back pocket for now and I tried to work on my curveball and my changeup," Wilson said. "In the third inning, I tried to throw a curveball for a strike and pitch backwards a little bit. In game situations and games that count, I would have pitched a little bit differently, especially against a rival."

It's been a productive spring for Texas starters. Overall, Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison combined to give up only three earned runs in 12 innings before Wilson's outing Friday.

"Guys are keeping the ball in play," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I think they've done a great job of handling the lower part of the strike zone. I think they've [mixed] in their other pitches and I think they've done a great job with the tempo in which they are pitching. I am very pleased with how they are attacking the hitters."

As for Wilson, he retired Oakland outfielder David DeJesus to start the bottom of the first inning, but Kurt Suzuki followed with a double. He walked Hideki Matsui on four consecutive pitches with two outs, and Kouzmanoff followed with a home run on the second pitch he saw from Wilson.

"He attacked the strike zone and Kouzmanoff caught him early with a fastball, but the next time Kouzmanoff came up, he went to his sinker," Washington said. "He made adjustments when he had to make adjustments. ... He was out there to get his work and C.J. did."