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Holland impresses in final outing before Classic


SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Derek Holland gave Team USA plenty to be pleased about Thursday afternoon.

In the left-hander's final start before leaving Rangers camp to compete in the World Baseball Classic, Holland looked like the same pitcher who turned so many heads during the 2011 postseason.

He located well all day and tossed four scoreless innings, allowing three hits in the Rangers' 10-0 victory against Cleveland -- their first of the spring.

"I feel like I'm ready to go," Holland said. "The next step, obviously, is going with Team USA and doing what we came out to do and that's to win it all. Then get back here with Texas and do what we're trying to do, and that's the same thing."

Holland isn't sure when he'll pitch again, but he'll likely throw a bullpen session with Team USA before he is scheduled to take the hill March 2 against Canada.

"My main focus is always being with Texas," Holland said. "This is a temporary leave, being with Team USA. I get to represent the country. That's something you dream about. But at the same time, you have to remember, I'm playing for Texas at all times."

Manager Ron Washington expressed no concern over Holland's departure, given that he'll be in the care of Team USA pitching coach Greg Maddux, whose brother holds the same position for Texas.

Washington also said he sees a more focused Holland this spring, but that doesn't mean he has changed his comedic nature.

"Curtailing the goofiness is something he has to determine how much he wants to, for him," Washington said. "I just want Derek Holland, and if goofiness comes with it, it comes with it. I just want him to learn how to focus better, that's all. I certainly don't want him to change. I like who he is."

And Holland agrees. The focus, he says, is there, but it hasn't changed his personality a bit.

"I'm still the same person I was from last year and the year before, anybody can tell you," Holland said. "Nothing's really changed. I'm obviously focused, that's the whole plan, but nothing's changed with me. I'm still that goofball.

"But I'm focused, I'm dedicated and I'm doing everything I can to fulfill my expectations. I've got a contract and I need to show that that contract was worth it. I want to make myself proud, I want to make Texas proud and everybody else around me."

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