Rangers close to setting Opening Day roster

Gimenez's health concern is one of few questions left in camp

Rangers close to setting Opening Day roster

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers came close to setting their Opening Day roster on Tuesday. The biggest question appears to be if catcher Chris Gimenez will be ready to start the season or if he will need to go on the disabled list.

Gimenez is dealing with an infection in his left ankle. The Rangers acquired Bryan Holaday from the Tigers on Tuesday night to be the backup behind Robinson Chirinos. Gimenez is hoping to resume baseball activities on Tuesday.

"It's going to be tough for him to start the season if he is banged up," manager Jeff Banister said. "Right now, we're trying to get him through to where he is available. Right now, he is not available."

The Rangers haven't named a fifth starter. A.J. Griffin is the clear favorite, but it hasn't been made official.

Banister had a number of conversations with players on Tuesday. As a result:

• Pitcher Nick Martinez was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock rather than remaining with the team as a long reliever. The Rangers see him and Chi Chi Gonzalez as their primary starting pitching depth in Triple-A.

"Very similar to what we talked about with Chi Chi," Banister said. "It's not about the fifth-starter spot; it is more about the big picture. We need Nick to work on execution of pitches. He is a four-pitch pitcher; we want to get him back to where he was the first two months of last season and get back to execution of pitches."

• Right-hander Tony Barnette and left-hander Andrew Faulkner were told they had made the team as relievers. They join closer Shawn Tolleson, left-hander Jake Diekman and right-handers Sam Dyson, Keone Kela and Tom Wilhelmsen in a seven-man bullpen.

The Rangers will likely carry an eighth reliever for the first four days of the season, because Griffin is on a Minor League contract and doesn't have to be added to the roster until he makes his first start.

• The Rangers still have two pitchers in camp who could be the eighth reliever: left-hander Cesar Ramos and right-hander Phil Klein. Sam Freeman was in the running, but he was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Holaday.

Klein is on the 40-man roster with an option. Ramos is on a Minor League contract.

Ryan Rua and Justin Ruggiano are both on the team as reserve outfielders, while Drew Stubbs was given his release. Banister said Ian Desmond's ability to play center field allows the Rangers to keep both Ruggiano and Rua. Both are primarily corner outfielders, although Rua can also play first or third if needed. Ruggiano has also played first base this spring and has experience in center field. They are both right-handed hitters.

Rua's solo homer

"Both have some options on the field," Banister said. "We liked the way both swing the bat. The construction of the lineup against left-handers is a little different."

Hanser Alberto has made the team as the utility infielder, and Pedro Ciriaco has been assigned to Triple-A. Alberto can play all four infield positions and the outfield in an emergency. He will also be the Rangers' primary pinch-runner off the bench in late innings.

"He has been running well this spring," Banister said.

• Veteran first baseman Ike Davis is in camp on a Minor League contract, but he hasn't played in three weeks because of a sprained right knee. He is also coming off left hip surgery from last year. Once Davis is at full strength, he is expected to play first base at Round Rock.

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.