Roles remain unsettled in Rangers' bullpen

Roles remain unsettled in Rangers' bullpen

Roles remain unsettled in Rangers' bullpen
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers' bullpen is far from set. There are still some roles that need to be claimed, decisions to make and relievers who need to start pitching better.

Koji Uehara tops that list, and he gave up four runs in his inning of work against the Cubs on Thursday. Rookie Brett Jackson hit a two-run home run off him in the seventh, and Uehara now has a 16.88 ERA for the spring and opponents are hitting .400 (10-for-25) off him.

"He got the ball up a little bit," manager Ron Washington said. "When a pitcher has a track record, you don't get concerned. He is a veteran pitcher who has done it before. He's had some troubles, but we just need him to maintain confidence in himself. The last outing he could lock it in."

Mark Lowe was able to survive a bad day. He gave up a home run to Ian Stewart and a double to Joe Mather but escaped having allowed just one run.

"That's the worst I've felt all spring as far as everything working," Lowe said. "Only giving up one run with nothing working ... I'll take it. I battled and made it through."

The Rangers know that Joe Nathan, who pitched a scoreless ninth on Thursday, will be their closer and Mike Adams will be their primary setup reliever. They also know they have Scott Feldman and Alexi Ogando who can pitch multiple innings in any role.

But Washington acknowledged they have three one-inning jobs up for grabs. There are three right-handers competing for them: Uehara, Lowe and Yoshinori Tateyama. But if the Rangers decided they want at least one left-hander, then one of those right-handers might get bumped aside.

"I would like for it to be a left-hander, but it doesn't have to be," Washington said. "I'm not concerned about the middle of the bullpen yet. I'm not concerned about anything yet. I'm only concerned about them getting their work and getting off the mound healthy. When it comes time to set up the bullpen, we'll be happy with it."

Tateyama pitched a scoreless eighth on Thursday and has a 1.50 ERA for the spring. Opponents are hitting .182 (4-for-22) off him.

"It has been a good spring for him," Washington said. "He's hitting his spots, changing speeds, keeping the ball down. He's doing a good job. That's what he does."