Rangers deal with injured left-handed relievers

Club will still give Detwiler chance to start, not expecting to sign lefty free agent

Rangers deal with injured left-handed relievers

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have two left-handed relievers -- Michael Kirkman and Edgar Olmos -- on their camp injury report. But that doesn't mean they are going to sign free-agent left-hander Phil Coke or move Ross Detwiler to the bullpen.

Detwiler was strictly a reliever for the Nationals in 2014 after spending most of the previous five seasons as a starter. When the Rangers acquired him in a trade last December, they told Detwiler that he would be given a chance to start.

Rangers acquire Detwiler

The Rangers intend to honor that commitment, though Detwiler must still win the fifth spot. He is competing against right-handers Nick Tepesch, Nick Martinez, Lisalverto Bonilla, Anthony Ranaudo and Ross Ohlendorf.

"That's what we got him for," manager Jeff Banister said. "He is in competition for the fifth spot. It is more important to put a strong five out there. You obviously want to have a strong bullpen, but … we're not going anywhere if we're not strong in the rotation. Our winning is going to start on the mound with starting pitching."

Olmos was acquired earlier this week from the Mariners, but he has developed an impingement in the back of his left shoulder and will be down for a few days. That is the same problem Kirkman is dealing with, and he has been limited to light tossing the past week.

Kirkman is getting close, but without Detwiler, the Rangers have just two healthy left-handed relievers in camp. One is Alex Claudio, who pitched in 15 games as a rookie last year, and the other is Martire Garcia, who has yet to pitch in the big leagues.

Claudio works out of a jam

"Same it has been, we know that's one area where we are light," general manager Jon Daniels said. "Our scouts are prepared to go out and look in other camps."

The Rangers have had some interest in free-agent left-handed relievers Coke and Joe Beimel, but they aren't close to signing them.

"We've expressed our level of interest to free agents," Daniels said. "We're not expecting to sign anybody at this point."

The alternative is to have right-handed setup relievers who can get left-handers out. Roman Mendez and Shawn Tolleson were the best at that for the Rangers last season. Mendez held left-handed hitters to a .175 batting average, and they hit .216 off of Tolleson.

"I've looked at video and seen guys with that potential, but I want to see them live in game situations," Banister said.

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.