Banister tinkering with idea of 13-man staff

Banister tinkering with idea of 13-man staff

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Rangers are considering the possibility of going with a 13-man pitching staff, including eight relievers, to start the season. They normally go with five starters and seven relievers.

Adding an extra reliever would leave the Rangers with a three-man bench but they think they have enough versatility to cover all their backup needs. Utility infielder Hanser Alberto has shown he can handle all four infield positions, they've used outfielders Justin Ruggiano and Ryan Rua at first base and left-fielder Ian Desmond can play in the infield if needed.

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The Rangers are considering the extra reliever to prevent early wear and tear on their bullpen. They have a power-laden bullpen but are light on multiple-inning options.

"With the structure of our position players, it allows us if we choose to have the extra man in the bullpen," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We have the option ... we're still looking at whether to go with 13, given the experience where we were last year. We got in a situation last year where we had to run a lot of young guys out of the bullpen early and it nicked us later on in the season."

Closer Shawn Tolleson, right-handed setup relievers Keone Kela, Sam Dyson and Tom Wilhelmsen, and left-hander Jake Diekman are all likely to be limited to one inning of use. So too would rookie right-hander Tony Barnette, who was a closer in Japan, and left-hander Andrew Faulkner.

The Rangers tested Barnette in Monday's 4-2 loss to the Indians. He entered the game with two outs in the third inning, finished the last hitter and then retired two more in the fourth.

"That's something he didn't do in Japan," Banister said. "We wanted to take a look at him coming into an inning, and then bringing him back out there. His stuff sharpened up."

The Rangers' best multiple-inning relief options are likely to be left-handers Sam Freeman and Cesar Ramos, or one of the right-handed rotation candidates like Nick Martinez. Ramos, a fifth-starter candidate, pitched two innings in relief on Monday.

"He's an intriguing guy and a veteran presence,"  He knows how to manage innings."

Worth noting

Chi Chi Gonzalez started in a Minor League game Monday in Surprise for Triple-A Round Rock against Oklahoma City. He lasted 3 2/3 innings and allowed six runs on five hits and a walk. He allowed two home runs.

• Faulkner pitched a scoreless inning in the same game, allowing one hit and striking out one. Faulkner has also thrown four scoreless innings in Cactus League games.

• Minor League left-hander Jimmy Reyes had to come out of Monday's Cactus League game after just one batter. He suffered a bruised left elbow when hit by Jose Ramirez's line drive.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.