Healthy Scheppers, Tolleson continue to impress

Healthy Scheppers, Tolleson continue to impress

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers relievers threw live batting practice for the first time on Thursday following two bullpen sessions. Right-handers Tanner Scheppers and Shawn Tolleson continue to lead the pack, according to pitching coach Mike Maddux.

Scheppers missed most of last season with a strained right elbow, but he has shown no ill-effects this spring.

Outlook: Scheppers, SP, TEX

"He's coming out free and easy with a loose arm," Maddux said. "He's got a little attitude, but he always does."

"I'm seriously just happy to be out there," Scheppers said. "It has been seven months since I've faced hitters. I'm just happy to be playing baseball and feeling great."

Tolleson was healthy the entire season after missing almost all of 2013 because of back surgery. He also had a shoulder issue early in camp last season, but overcame that to make the team. This spring he is far ahead physically of where he was a year ago.

Tolleson on his confidence boost

"I think last year Tolleson was feeling his way through his health," Maddux said. "Now he has that behind him. He was really solid today -- 26 pitches and 21 strikes."

• Pitcher Michael Kirkman, sidelined with an impingement in his left shoulder, played catch for the second straight day without any problems. He will try long toss on Friday.

• The Rangers have intrasquad games on Sunday and Monday. All pitchers in camp are expected to throw at least one inning except Kirkman, Matt Harrison and Martin Perez. That comes after one more live batting-practice session on Friday and Saturday. The Cactus League opener is Wednesday against the Royals.

• The Double-A Frisco Roughriders announced major upgrades to the Dr Pepper Ballpark on Thursday, including a giant, high-definition video board beyond the left-center-field wall and nearly 2,500 square feet of new or upgraded LED boards. The ballpark is also getting a new sound system, sports bar, team merchandise store and renovated clubhouses.

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.