"The game plan today was to work on his fastball down in the zone," manager Jeff Banister said. "That's what he did. A four-pitch walk is one of those things we have to work on. Another learning experience for him. Command is the key for him and [game] awareness."
After the walk to Joyce, Bonilla gave up an RBI double to C.J. Cron and a two-run home run to Chris Iannetta. Efren Navarro then singled, stole second and scored on a single by Kevin Featherson. Before Bonilla could get the inning under control, he trailed, 4-1.
"With Matt, I was trying to be too fine with my fastball inside," Bonilla said. "After that I was just trying to throw strikes and get a double play. I felt good for three innings. My tempo was good. I have been working on my tempo and it felt really good."
The outing reinforced what the Rangers already know about Bonilla. The second-year right-hander has excellent talent -- his changeup is one of the best secondary pitches in camp -- but he is still adjusting to being a starter and still trying to hone his command.
Bonilla made three starts and two relief appearances for the Rangers last September, going 3-0 with a 3.05 ERA. In 20 2/3 innings, he allowed 13 hits and struck out 17 while opponents hit .186 off him. He also walked 12 batters.
Bonilla was still able to get off the field healthy after getting the leadoff hitter in the fifth. That was an accomplishment for a Rangers starter lately, although several of their wounded pitchers are recovering quickly:
• Ross Detwiler, who has a bruise on his right non-throwing hand, got through a bullpen session without any issues and should be ready to return to the mound sometime this coming weekend.
• Ross Ohlendorf, who left Sunday's start with tightness in his right groin muscle, felt much better on Monday and is a candidate to start this weekend in one of two games in San Antonio.
• Anthony Ranaudo showed he is over the elbow issue that forced him out of Thursday's start against the White Sox. Ranaudo pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in a Double-A game on Monday. He did not allow a hit, walked two and struck out two while throwing 30 pitches.
• The best outing delivered by a Rangers starter on Monday was by Colby Lewis. He allowed one hit, did not walk a batter and struck out three in a Triple-A game back in Surprise. Lewis threw 52 pitches, including 38 for strikes.