Ogando working with eye toward rotation spot

Ogando working with eye toward rotation spot

Ogando working with eye toward rotation spot
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Neftali Feliz says he wants to stay in the bullpen. Alexi Ogando, who was also a reliever last year, has a different opinion.

He would welcome a chance to move into the rotation.

"Yes, I would really like to be a starter," Ogando said after throwing two scoreless innings in an informal intrasquad game on Friday on Nolan Ryan Field.

Ogando faced seven batters and retired six of them. The one batter who reached base was on an error. If his Spring Training goal is to make the starting rotation, then he is doing a good job of keeping up with the competition.

"He looked real good," manager Ron Washington said. "Real good."

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Ogando was a setup reliever for the Rangers last year, and was 4-1 with a 1.30 ERA in 44 games. The 1.30 ERA over 41 2/3 innings was the lowest ERA ever by a Rangers pitcher with a minimum of 40 innings pitched. He also struck out 39 and walked 16.

His focus this spring has been to learn how to get hitters to chase pitches out of the strike zone. The Rangers like the way Ogando pounds the strike zone, but they want him to be able to put away hitters with two strikes.

"I have been working on that," Ogando said. "I know I get into a little trouble with two strikes. I'm working on throwing my fastball high, and my slider in the dirt. It's starting to work a little bit."

Ogando has pitched twice in Cactus League games, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five in five innings. Left-handers Matt Harrison and Derek Holland have emerged as early favorites to win spots in the rotation, but Ogando is still in the competition.

"I feel pretty good," Ogando said. "I'm not worried about whether I'm a starter or a reliever. I have to go out and do my job. I'm preparing for anything."

The other impressive pitcher in the intrasquad game was left-hander Zach Jackson. He pitched three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and a strikeout. He is not overpowering, but the manager liked what he saw.

"He looked outstanding," Washington. "He threw strikes with everything he's got and had three easy innings."

Darren Oliver allowed two runs in three innings of work.

Briefly: Rangers pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama told the club that his family and friends were all right back home in Japan. The Rangers said none of their Japanese scouts and players were seriously impacted by Friday's earthquake/tsunami. ... Adrian Beltre (strained calf) is still hitting, running and throwing with the rest of the team and could make his first Cactus League appearance at some point next week. ... Tanner Scheppers (lower back stiffness) is scheduled to begin a flat-ground long-toss program on Friday.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.