Gonzalez survives cuts, still in mix for rotation job

Eickhoff, Asher, Jackson sent down to Minor League camp

Gonzalez survives cuts, still in mix for rotation job

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers sent three of their four young pitching prospects back to Minor League camp Tuesday. Sent down were Jerad Eickhoff, Alec Asher and Luke Jackson.

Alex Gonzalez, who was the Rangers' 2014 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, is still in camp and a rotation candidate. He has a 4.15 ERA in three outings.

"We are in a situation where are looking at two slots," manager Jeff Banister said. "We are not taking anybody out of the mix who is in the mix."

With Yu Darvish out for the season, the Rangers have a rotation headed by Derek Holland, Yovani Gallardo and Colby Lewis. That leaves two spots, and the candidates include left-hander Ross Detwiler and right-handers Nick Tepesch, Nick Martinez, Ross Ohlendorf, Anthony Ranaudo, Lisalverto Bonilla and Anthony Bass.

Gonzalez, who was 7-4 with a 2.70 ERA in 15 games after a midseason promotion to Double-A Frisco last year, is right there with the rest of them.

"He has pitched effectively," Banister said. "He is calm and composed and has been able to get all his pitches in play. This is going to be a nice effective pitcher at the Major League level."

Worth noting
• The Rangers also sent catcher Patrick Cantwell back to Minor League camp. He is a standout defensive catcher but is still developing as a hitter.

Delino DeShields Jr., sidelined with a strained right hamstring, ran the bases on Tuesday, but he probably won't get into a game until after Wednesday's off-day.

• Banister said there are no plans to use Mitch Moreland in the outfield this spring. Right now, Moreland is going to get his defensive work at first base. Said Banister, "He looks pretty good at the plate. Let's keep him feeling good and make sure he is healthy. We need Mitch to be the bully in the [batter's] box he needs to be.

• Closer Neftali Feliz was one of seven relievers who pitched in a Minor League intrasquad game on Tuesday. Feliz was also the only pitcher to give up a run. Infielder Evan Van Hoosier, an eighth-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of the College of Southern Nevada, hit a home run off of Feliz.

Tanner Scheppers, making his first appearance in a competitive game this spring, pitched a scoreless inning in the intrasquad contest. He threw 17 pitches and struck out one.

Keone Kela struck out the side on 14 pitches in his inning of work, while Spencer Patton and Jon Edwards struck out two of the three batters faced. David Martinez and Shawn Tolleson also pitched a scoreless inning.

• Ohlendorf, who is sidelined with a tight right groin muscle, threw lightly on Tuesday. He will be re-evaluated on Thursday. Ohlendorf said he is not 100 percent but is "close."

Martin Perez, coming back from Tommy John surgery, threw off a full mound for the first time on Tuesday. Perez threw 20 pitches -- all fastballs -- and had no issues. He will be doing bullpen sessions for 3-4 weeks before beginning live batting practice.

• Detwiler, a left-hander who has been dealing with a bruised right hand, is scheduled to pitch on Thursday against the Reds in Goodyear.

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.