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Lefty relievers impressive early in camp


SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said the club won't let any bullpen needs stand in the way of Robbie Ross making the starting rotation. Washington said Ross will be in the rotation if he is one of the five best starters and the Rangers will figure out after that what to do about the bullpen.

"We are going to put a bullpen together," Washington said. "If Robbie takes the fifth spot, somebody has to take the bullpen spot. We are going to put the best guys out there and fill the holes. We're going to be filling holes all year."

Ross, who allowed one run in four innings against the Cubs on Wednesday, was the Rangers' primary left-handed setup reliever last season. So far the candidates to replace him in that role have started out well. Most notable is Michael Kirkman, who has pitched four scoreless innings, allowed two hits and struck out six. His next outing is Friday against the Brewers.

But other left-handers have pitched well. Jeff Beliveau started the "B" game against the Cubs on Wednesday and pitched a scoreless inning, striking out one. He has also pitched three scoreless innings in Cactus League games and is scheduled to start Friday against the Brewers.

Joe Ortiz is scoreless in four innings and four appearances, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out five. He is scheduled to pitch Wednesday against the Dodgers. Nate Robertson has pitched three scoreless innings in his three appearances.

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.

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