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Notes: Rangers finalize 25-man roster

Notes: Rangers finalize 25-man roster

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ARLINGTON -- Infielder Matt Kata, catcher Chris Stewart and pitchers Bruce Chen and Mike Wood have all won spots on the Rangers' Opening Day roster.

Kata won a job as the utility infielder after hitting .382 for the spring and beating out Marlon Byrd for the last spot on the bench.

"I feel like Willie Mays Hayes in the movie 'Major League,'" Kata said. "It was a great spring from Day 1. When I signed with these guys, they said the opportunity was going to be there. As a player, that's all you want. I knew I had to battle and compete. ... It's a good feeling."

Byrd hit .314 but struggled defensively, and that worked against him. He has been designated for assignment, meaning the Rangers have 10 days to trade him, release him or get him through outright waivers.

"At the end he was playing really well," manager Ron Washington said. "Matt Kata is what happened. This guy had a super spring. He pounced on it from the beginning to the end and never had a hiccup. It was a matter of making a decision and Matt won out."

Byrd was signed to be the backup center fielder to Kenny Lofton, but that job will likely go to Jerry Hairston Jr., who hit .377 this spring.

"Obviously, Kenny has been a great center fielder for a long time," Hairston said. "I'm going to do anything I can to help him out. I pride myself as a defender, and I think I've come a long way playing center field."

Stewart was another upset winner. Miguel Ojeda had the inside track at backup catcher, but Stewart was impressive with his throwing from the beginning. He improved his pitch-calling and he hit .450 for the spring.

"Overwhelming," Stewart said. "It's awesome."

Ojeda was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma while Guillermo Quiroz was designated for assignment.

Chen and Wood won the last two spots in the bullpen. Chen agreed to a reworking of his contract and has told the Rangers he would accept an outright assignment to Oklahoma if it comes to that later in the season. The Rangers still have to open up two spots when Eric Gagne and Jamey Wright are added to the 25-man roster later this month.

But Washington said it was not preordained as to who would be dropped when that happened.

"It's all predicated on performance and who best suits what we're trying to accomplish," Washington said.

Wood earned his spot on the roster with a 1.29 ERA in six outings this spring. Pitcher Ezequiel Astacio was designated for assignment, while pitcher Francisco Cruceta and infielder Adam Fox were outrighted to the Minor Leagues.

Tejeda finishes strong: The Rangers had some unsettling moments with their starting rotation in the final week of Spring Training, but ended it on the best note possible.

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Robinson Tejeda pitched five scoreless innings in the Rangers' 4-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Saturday. Tejeda allowed one hit and walked two while striking out four.

"As long as he throws the ball in the strike zone, he'll be successful," Washington said said. "I'll take what he did tonight for 30-something starts."

Opening Day line: Washington has talked about not using Nelson Cruz on Opening Day because it's not a good matchup for him against Angels right-handed starter John Lackey. If so, the lineup used against the Brewers on Saturday is likely the one that the Rangers will use.

"That's a possibility," Washington said. "It's one of them. There could be another one."

The Rangers had Lofton in center, Frank Catalanotto in left, Michael Young at shortstop, Mark Teixeira at first, Sammy Sosa in right, Hank Blalock at third, Brad Wilkerson at designated hitter, Gerald Laird at catcher and Ian Kinsler at second base.

BP time: The Rangers went by their new pregame schedule and took batting practice after the visiting team. That's the plan for the season, which means the Rangers will start batting practice for 7:05 p.m. CT games at approximately 5:40 p.m., rather than 4:40 as they have in previous years. Not all are in agreement with the new schedule.

"I'd like for my guys to have as much down time as possible after batting practice," Washington said. "Sometimes when you hit last, you're rushed to get ready. I don't like it, but that's the way it is so we have to get used to it."

He said it: "If we don't pitch, we don't do anything. Offense can be stopped. I don't care how good your offense is, it can be stopped. Pitching and defense show up every day." -- Washington on the key to the Rangers season

Briefly: Gagne threw 15 pitches in a Minor League game in Arizona without problem. His next outing is scheduled for Monday. ... Six relievers worked in a simulated game Saturday afternoon: Akinori Otsuka, Kameron Loe, C.J. Wilson, Scott Feldman, Ron Mahay and Joaquin Benoit.

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

{"content":["spring_training" ] }
{"content":["spring_training" ] }
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