Kirkman looking to move into Rangers' bullpen

Kirkman looking to move into Rangers' bullpen

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers left-hander Michael Kirkman understands the situation. On a club looking for left-handed relievers, this would be a great time for him to have a big spring.

If he pitches like he did out of the bullpen in Triple-A last year, that could happen.

"I'm excited about it," Kirkman said. "After what happened last season, it only made me work harder this offseason. I got into a rhythm and got back to the way I was throwing in 2009-10. I got back down to my original arm angle and got my confidence back."

Kirkman started the season in Round Rock's rotation, but he made just four starts before going on the disabled list with a strained calf muscle. When he returned, Kirkman went to the 'pen and had a 1.52 ERA in 30 appearances. He had a 1.59 ERA in 12 September appearances for the Rangers.

The Rangers non-tendered Kirkman this winter, making him a free agent, but he quickly re-signed with the club on a Minor League deal. A fifth-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Kirkman has been in the organization longer than any other player.

"I like the situation," Kirkman said. "They were short on left-handers and it offered one of the best chances of making the club."

Right now, the Rangers have just three left-handers in camp along with rookies Alex Claudio and Martire Garcia. They are also interested in free agent Phil Coke.

Outlook: Darvish, SP, TEX

Yu Darvish was in camp on Wednesday and threw in the bullpen. Neftali Feliz also showed up and played catch with Lisalverto Bonilla.

Kyle Blanks, who is in camp on a Minor League contract, worked out on Wednesday, but he is still limited by tendinitis in his Achilles heels. Blanks has played both first base and the outfield in his career, but the Rangers want to be cautious with him. He'll probably be limited to DH and first base, and he is not likely to be in the left field competition.

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.