McClellan eyes trip to Vegas as starting point

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Kyle McClellan threw in the bullpen on Wednesday without any problems behind his right shoulder. The next step is to start throwing live practice.

McClellan, who has not thrown in a Cactus League game yet, still has time to make the team, but it's unclear if he can be a candidate for a spot in the rotation. He entered camp as a strong candidate, but that may no longer be the case after he was set back by soreness in the back of his shoulder.

"The timeline is getting short as far as getting him stretched out," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "I do think he'll have time to make the team but whether he's fully stretched to start, I don't know."

McClellan, who spent the past five seasons with the Cardinals, underwent surgery on July 10 to repair a torn labrum and split capsule in his right shoulder. The Rangers signed him to a Minor League contract in the offseason and he came into camp at full strength. But, after throwing a couple of live batting-practice sessions, he had to be shut down because of soreness in the muscles behind the shoulder.

He is only now getting back to full strength.

"I'm a lot better, night and day difference," McClellan said. "To me, the biggest thing is how I react the next day. I threw 150 feet long toss and no pain. I think I'm over the hump. I can tell day-to-day it's feeling quite a bit better."

The Rangers play in Las Vegas on March 15-16 and McLellan is tentatively planned to make that trip. The goal is to be able to pitch at least three innings in a game in Las Vegas. If he does that, he could build up to 5-6 innings in the final two weeks of Spring Training.

"I don't see many starters going more than five innings in Spring Training," McLellan said. "It depends on how they view me, but I could be ready."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for 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.