SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Ron Washington was asked Friday night if he's made a decision on center field."If I have made it, I'm not ready to give it up," Washington said. "You can use your own judgment." One thing that's obvious is Josh Hamilton is getting much time in center field. He made his fourth straight start in center on Friday night. Washington also said he wanted to use his "regulars" on Friday and that included David Murphy until he was scratched from the lineup because of a stomach virus. Hamilton also went into Friday's game hitting .235 (12-for-51) for the spring and was still looking for his first home run. "He has shown some flashes," Washington said. "He's trying to get comfortable but he is inconsistent. If I'm worried about Josh Hamilton, I'm in deep trouble. I believe that ... on April 6th, Josh is my pick to click."
Bullpen roles of Uehara, Lowe likely secure
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rangers relievers Koji Uehara and Mark Lowe have not had great springs, at least in the eyes of some. General manager Jon Daniels doesn't seem particularly concerned."You'd like to see more consistency but it's Spring Training," Daniels said. "It's like I said back in January, I don't like Spring Training decisions. What it looks like in Arizona looks totally different in 10 days." The Rangers do have some Spring Training decisions to make before they leave the desert but they seem inclined to trust the track record for both Lowe and Uehara. They certainly aren't going to release Uehara even though he has an 11.88 ERA and a .333 opponents batting average, and trades don't appear likely at this point.
Clubs just aren't inclined to take on salary at the end of Spring Training. The Reds have lost relievers Ryan Madson and Nick Masset to injuries but still aren't willing to take on salary to upgrade their bullpen."I feel good about our bullpen," Daniels said. "I like our bullpen. We've got a call to make on our last spot but we have some good choices." Lowe, who allowed three runs in a Minor League game on Thursday, has pitched in eight Cactus League games and has allowed four runs on eight hits and three walks. He has struck out four in eight innings. "I think the spring has gone well," Lowe said. "I feel I'm healthy and I've been throwing strikes. I guess a lot of people think otherwise but to me it only matters how I feel." The Rangers know Lowe can be very good. He started off slow last year and needed time in Triple-A to get some mechanical issues resolved. But from June 18 to the end of the season, he was 1-2 a 3.00 ERA and a .202 opponents batting average. He also struck out 27 in 27 innings before a hamstring injury cut short his season. "You're always constantly polishing, re-polishing, learning new things," Lowe said. "You never stop learning. There are always ways to improve. During the course of the season, you're always making adjustments. But this is Spring Training. My whole mindset is to get my work in and attack hitters. The regular season is completely different. If I get into the season and things aren't working, then I make adjustments."
Murphy scratched, Gentry starts over Borbon
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- David Murphy was supposed to start in left field on Friday but was scratched because of a stomach virus. Craig Gentry started in left instead while Julio Borbon was on the bench. Borbon hasn't started the past two games but manager Ron Washington said it has nothing to do with his failure to drop two squeeze bunts on Wednesday night against the Royals."It's not an issue," Washington said. "The bunt thing has nothing to do with Julio not playing. Tonight I was playing my regulars. I think Julio has had a decent spring. I was a little upset that he didn't execute but in the last four or five days I've been upset with everybody who didn't execute. It's getting to that point of the spring." The Rangers need to get Gentry going. If Murphy, who hits left-handed, plays regularly in left field, the Rangers will want to complement him with a right-handed bat. Gentry did that during the playoffs last year but went into Friday's game with four hits in 30 at-bats this spring. Borbon made the trip to Scottsdale but as a reserve. He has two hits in his last 21 at-bats in addition to some mental mistakes that have not made his manager happy. "I don't know what's happening," Borbon said. "At the beginning, everything seemed to be going good. The wind has shifted to the south but I can't focus on that. I've got to keep going and hope the wind changes. I feel good. I'm not going to let one hiccup ruin my whole Spring Training. I'll deal with it and move on. If I get caught up in that, I'm not going to finish the way I want to finish." The Rangers could end up taking Gentry and Borbon as reserve outfielders. Brandon Snyder, who can play multiple positions, also remains in camp. Washington was asked what he was looking for from the last player on the bench. "I hope he falls from the sky, can hit right-handed and can play the outfield," Washington said.
Reliever Tanner Scheppers remains in camp, mainly because pitching coach Mike Maddux and bullpen coach Andy Hawkins wanted more time to work with him on some mechanical issues. He will pitch at Triple-A Round Rock as a reliever. Reliever Mike Adams pitched a scoreless inning in a Minor League intrasquad game on Friday. He faced four batters, allowed an infield hit and struck out two. The Rangers released catcher Chris Robinson from Minor League camp. Outfielder Nelson Cruz and shortstop Elvis Andrus were back in the lineup on Friday after missing a couple days with minor injuries. Since Thursday's announcement on the rotation, the Rangers have sold approximately 5,000 tickets for the April 9 game against the Mariners. Yu Darvish will be making his first Major League start that day. There still are plenty of seats available.
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.