Detwiler appears to be rotation lock, but other battles continue

No. 5 starter, left field, fourth outfielder and final bench spot up for grabs

Detwiler appears to be rotation lock, but other battles continue

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Ross Detwiler is succeeding in his mission. He is proving to the Rangers that he belongs in their rotation.

Detwiler has been the most impressive of Texas' back-end rotation candidates and should lock up the fourth spot in the rotation with another strong performance on Wednesday night against the Reds.

That would be one less roster decision for the Rangers as they move under two weeks until Opening Day. There are still other weighty matters to decide, including the fifth spot in the rotation.

That appears to be between Nick Martinez and Nick Tepesch. Martinez appears to have been more impressive early in camp, but Tepesch held his own in a three-run, five-inning, 67-pitch outing against the Angels on Wednesday.

Tepesch strikes out Rutledge

Anthony Ranaudo is still in the competition, but was set back by some elbow tightness earlier in camp and is still trying to hone in on his fastball command. Ross Ohlendorf was also set back by a tight right groin muscle and is now viewed more as a bullpen candidate.

Bullpen: The Rangers have four spots open behind closer Neftali Feliz and setup relievers Tanner Scheppers and Shawn Tolleson. They have four impressive right-handed power arms to fill those spots in Phil Klein, Jon Edwards, Roman Mendez and Keone Kela.

The Rangers like them all, but they would still prefer a veteran who can pitch multiple innings. Jamey Wright has done that job throughout his career, but has struggled to this point. Ohlendorf could get consideration, and this could also be a role for Lisalverto Bonilla because of an excellent changeup as a weapon against left-handers. Martinez could also fit if he doesn't win a job in the rotation.

The only left-hander in camp is Alex Claudio, who doesn't throw hard, but can be effective with a variety of pitches from a variety of angles. The Rangers have to measure that against one of their power right-handers.

Fujikawa fans Skipworth

Kyuji Fujikawa, the former standout Japanese closer, is in the competition, but is still trying to complete his recovery from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. His fastball hasn't been as explosive as some of the others. Biceps tendinitis has taken veteran Juan Carlos Oviedo out of the running.

Outfield: The only sure thing here is Ryan Rua has been coming on strong and impressing manager Jeff Banister daily. He has put himself in strong position to make the team in some capacity.

This remains a three-spot competition: left field, fourth outfielder and last bench spot. The field has been narrowed to Rua, right-handed hitters Ryan Ludwick and Jake Smolinski and left-handed swinging Carlos Peguero and Nate Schierholtz.

The wild card is Rule 5 Draft pick Delino DeShields, who tantalizes the Rangers with tremendous speed and ability to play center field. The question is if he can hit well enough to merit a spot on the roster.

Pleskoff on DeShields and Rua

Peguero has had an impressive spring, but Texas will likely want to see him continue to do that in Triple-A before being convinced he has truly remade himself as a hitter. Ludwick and Schierholtz have the more reliable track records. With Smolinski still in the mix and the almost infinite possible combinations, this one is too close to call other than Rua starting to separate himself.

Utility infielder: The Rangers need somebody who can play shortstop in case Elvis Andrus needs a day off. If they need somebody for an extended period to replace Andrus, they would likely call Hanser Alberto up from Triple-A Round Rock.

The three prime candidates are Adam Rosales, Ed Lucas and Elliot Johnson. Rosales played well for the Rangers in a utility role last year and is also the only one on the 40-man roster. Johnson is a switch-hitter, legitimate base-stealing threat and saw significant time at shortstop for the Rays in 2011-12. Lucas has played the most at short of any of them this spring. All can play multiple positions, but shortstop could decide the issue.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for 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.