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Texas has no set role for Lowe, with 'pen in flux

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said he has no predetermined bullpen role in mind for pitcher Derek Lowe, who agreed to a Minor League contract on Wednesday and is expected to join the Rangers on Friday.

That may be because there are multiple roles still unclaimed in the Rangers' bullpen.

"His first role is to come in here and see where he is," Washington said. "He'll throw a bullpen and then get ready for live batting practices and games. He'll create a role for himself if he makes the club. Right now we'll see where he is and what he is capable of doing, and then we'll assess it."

The Rangers are still sorting through what they have in their bullpen, a process that will likely take all spring. Lowe, 39, may be late to camp, but it may not take him long to catch up with the competition. Joe Nathan and Jason Frasor are the two veterans of the bullpen and have each made just two appearances in Cactus League games.

Tanner Scheppers and Yoshinori Tateyama, who pitched for the Rangers last year, have appeared in just one game while dealing with minor physical issues. Both were able to pitch a scoreless inning in a B game on Wednesday and are expected to graduate back into the Cactus League this weekend.

Some other key right-handed bullpen candidates continue to struggle. Josh Lindblom pitched the ninth inning against the Dodgers on Thursday and gave up a game-tying three-run home run to Matt Angle. He now has an 8.44 ERA this spring, and opponents are 9-for-23 off him. He did strike out three of six hitters.

Evan Meek allowed three runs on four hits while getting just two outs in the seventh inning. He has a 13.50 ERA, while opponents are 11-for-28 off him this spring.

"There is a lot of time left," Washington said. "They'll get it together.

Lowe, who has been both a starter and a reliever in his career, can fill multiple roles in the bullpen. He made 17 relief appearances for the Yankees last season and pitched at least two innings in six of those outings. In his first outing with the Yankees after being released by the Indians, Lowe picked up a save against the Rangers on Aug. 13 by pitching four scoreless innings in an 8-2 victory at Yankee Stadium.

That's what long relievers do, and the Rangers haven't yet identified someone to replace Scott Feldman. He served as both a long/middle reliever and a spot starter for the Rangers this past season. Lowe might be that candidate, but he could also be pushed into a late-inning setup role to accompany Frasor.

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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