Notes: Rangers really need Loe in 'pen
Right-hander likely will be used in important late-inning role
ARLINGTON -- There is a good reason why the Rangers have put Kameron Loe in the bullpen.They really need him there, especially now that Eric Gagne will start the season on the disabled list and Akinori Otsuka will be the closer. Loe wants to be in the starting rotation, but he likely will be used in the crucial seventh and eighth innings to help make up for the loss of Gagne. "They told me I was in a more valuable position in the bullpen and that's where I can help the club the most," Loe said. "I may get more innings out of the bullpen than the starting rotation. I'm just glad I'm breaking with the team and will be there on Opening Day, and I'm excited about being in the Major Leagues again." Right now, the Rangers' Opening Day bullpen includes Otsuka, Loe, right-handers Joaquin Benoit and Scott Feldman and left-handers C.J. Wilson and Ron Mahay. If the Rangers stick to their plan of opening with an eight-man bullpen, the final two spots will go to Bruce Chen and Mike Wood. If so, Texas would be left to choose between infielder Matt Kata and outfielder Marlon Byrd for the final spot on the bench. The other option would be to go with seven relievers and keep both Kata and Byrd. "We haven't decided that yet," manager Ron Washington said. Kata has had one of the best camps of any player. He was 2-for-4 with a double and a triple on Thursday, and he is hitting .396 on the spring. Wood also has had a terrific spring, going 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA. He has not allowed a run in his last 11 2/3 innings. The Rangers also haven't named a backup catcher. They like Miguel Ojeda's experience, but Chris Stewart has come on strong this camp. Stewart is 9-for-19 at the plate, has improved his game calling and receiving over the course of the spring and has impressed with his throwing ability. Out of Arizona: The Rangers left Arizona with a three-game losing streak, but they saw three positive developments in a 7-5 loss to the Royals on Thursday. Sammy Sosa, after missing three games because of stomach flu, returned to the lineup and hit his fifth home run of the spring. "He looked strong," Washington said. "Of all his at-bats today, the best was his walk after he got behind, two strikes." Brandon McCarthy finished the spring strong, allowing three runs in 5 2/3 innings. His only big mistake was a fastball that Mike Sweeney crushed for a two-run home run in the sixth.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.