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Rangers putting pieces together

Rangers putting pieces together

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers are getting ready to start the Major League season and they are also formulating their Minor League plans as well.

A rundown of notable names and decisions:

• The Triple-A Oklahoma rotation will consist of Sidney Ponson, Doug Mathis, A.J. Murray, Eric Hurley and Elizardo Ramirez. John Patterson will remain in Arizona on a throwing program, while building up arm strength.

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• Catcher Chris Stewart has been released, leaving Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kevin Richardson as the RedHawks catchers. The infield will include Nate Gold and Chris Shelton at first, German Duran at second, Ryan Roberts at shortstop and Casey Benjamin at third. Infielder Drew Meyer is also at Oklahoma. Travis Metcalf (hamstring surgery) will start the season on the disabled list, but will play every day when he returns in a month or so.

• Joaquin Arias, who is still recovering from his shoulder injury, will be used primarily at designated hitter. He has been playing second base and will ultimately go back to shortstop when his arm strength returns.

• Pitcher Jason Davis has asked for his release so he can find a job as a starter. Infielder Edgardo Alfonzo has also been released.

• Surprisingly, John Mayberry Jr. will start the season in the Double-A Frisco outfield. The Oklahoma outfield will include Jason Ellison, Kevin Mench and Brandon Boggs. Nelson Cruz will also play there if he clears waivers.

• The Frisco rotation is expected to be Michael Schlact, Matt Harrison, Michael Ballard, Trey Hodges and converted reliever Scott Feldman. Warner Madrigal will be the closer. Two top prospects, first baseman Chris Davis and shortstop Elvis Andrus, will also be at Frisco.

• Taylor Teagarden and Max Ramirez, two definite prospects, will split the catching duties at Frisco. They will also DH when not behind the plate.

• The Rangers are particularly excited about their Class A Bakersfield team, and there's a chance some of them won't be there long. The rotation is Zach Phillips, Omar Poveda, Tommy Hunter, Beau Jones and John Bannister and Manny Pina is the catcher. The infield consists of Mauro Gomez at first, Jose Vallejo at second, Marcus Lemon at shortstop and John Whittleman at third. Julio Borbon will be in center.

Spring Training
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• Kasey Kiker, the Rangers' first pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, will remain in extended Spring Training for a week or two, but will eventually join Bakersfield.

• Blake Beavan, Michael Main and Neil Ramirez, three high school pitchers taken in the first or supplemental round of last year's Draft, will be in extended Spring Training.

• Pitcher Thomas Diamond, one year removed from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, will remain in Surprise, Ariz., to continue to build up endurance and arm strength. When he's ready to pitch five innings in a game, he'll be sent to a Minor League club. The Rangers were shooting for June 1, but Diamond is ahead of schedule.

• Brandon McCarthy, who will start the season on the disabled list with severe elbow inflammation, could begin playing catch this weekend.

• Infielder Matt West will also be in extended Spring Training. He was the Rangers' second-round pick last year who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. He still has 49 games to go on a 50-game suspension, but can still work out with the team and play in extended Spring Training games.

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

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{"content":["spring_training" ] }