ARLINGTON -- Ryan Garko, the Rangers' right-handed-hitting backup first baseman, also made his first start on Thursday. He was at first base in place of Chris Davis, a left-handed hitter, with lefty Ricky Romero on the mound.

Manager Ron Washington is not going to platoon his first basemen, but he does know he will need Garko during the season. Their American League West opponents have some good left-handers in their rotations even if Scott Kazmir of the Angels and Cliff Lee of the Mariners are on the disabled list.

The Angels still have Joe Saunders in their rotation, the Mariners have left-handers Jason Vargas and Ryan Rowland-Smith currently in their rotation and the Athletics have Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Braden.

"That's why I've got to keep [Garko] going," Washington said. "He can hit. I have to use the assets that I have."

Washington gives Hamilton day off

ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton was given Thursday off, one day after striking out four times against the Blue Jays.

David Murphy, a left-handed hitter, started in left field against Blue Jays left-handed starter Ricky Romero. But manager Ron Washington said he was already planning on Murphy starting on Thursday even before Hamilton struggled against Blue Jays left-hander Brian Tallet on Wednesday.

"It's lefty vs. lefty but I've got to get Murphy a game," Washington said.

Hamilton struck out three times against Tallet and once against right-handed reliever Kevin Gregg. He is 0-for-7 with six strikeouts in his first two games, although he had a walk and scored a run in the opener on Monday.

"I feel good and my body feels good," Hamilton said. "I've struck out four times before and the next day I hit two home runs. It was when I was with Cincinnati."

Actually, Hamilton was close to being right. He struck out four times in a game against the Giants on July 4, 2007. He came back to go 4-for-8 with a home run and a double in his next two games. He also responded to the four-strikeout game by hitting .333 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in his next 29 games.

Hamilton had two home runs in three at-bats against Tallet last year but couldn't touch him on Wednesday.

"Nothing went right for me [Wednesday]," Hamilton said. "I made a diving catch too [in the eighth inning] and the ball popped out of my glove."

Harden has unique outing

ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Rich Harden struck out eight batters and walked five over 3 2/3 innings in his first start for the Rangers. He is just the second Rangers pitcher in the past 14 seasons to walk at least five and strike out eight.

John Thomson also did it in a complete-game win on May 18, 2003, in New York when he walked five and struck out nine.

Since 1988, Harden is also just one of two pitchers to throw 90 pitches in 3 2/3 innings or fewer and allow one hit or less. On April 29, 2000, Brewers pitcher Everett Stull went 3 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs despite giving up one hit. He walked nine.

Of course one of the all-time great pitching lines by a Rangers starting pitcher was reminiscent of Harden's work against the Blue Jays. On April 17, 1986, Bobby Witt, making his second career start, went five innings against the Brewers and did not allow a hit in five innings. But he walked eight and struck out 10. He allowed two runs, was not involved in the decision and the Rangers won, 7-5.

Rangers put Madrigal on 60-day DL

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have transferred pitcher Warner Madrigal from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list to make room for catcher Matt Treanor on the 40-man roster.

Treanor was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday to replace catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who went on the disabled list with stiffness in his upper left back and shoulder.

The Rangers originally intended to designate Madrigal for assignment, which would have given them 15 days to trade him, release him or put him through outright waivers. But Major League Baseball was not inclined to let the Rangers do that because Madrigal's 15 days weren't up yet.

"They thought it would set a bad precedent," assistant general manager Thad Levine said.

He was placed on the disabled list retroactive to March 26 and is not eligible to come off until Saturday. The Rangers' only recourse was to put him on the 60-day disabled list, which does not count against the 40-man roster.

Madrigal, who missed all of Spring Training with a strained right forearm, will not be eligible to come off the 60-day DL until June. But he is still in extended Spring Training on a throwing program. He will likely remain there through April and be sent to the Minors on a 30-day medical rehabilitation assignment sometime in May.

Worth noting

Shortstop Elvis Andrus said he still feels some discomfort from the inflammation in his left wrist but said it's not affecting him at the plate. ... The Rangers and Blue Jays went 0-for-16 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday. ... In the Rangers' first two games, Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz were 7-for-14 with three home runs while the rest of the team was 4-for-80. ... The Blue Jays had five hits in Wednesday's game and they were all for extra bases. That's the fifth time that's happened in club history. The Braves had five extra-base hits and no singles in a game against the Rangers on June 17, 2008.