Rangers yet to name Griffin fifth starter

Right-hander favorite to land job, but hasn't been made official

Rangers yet to name Griffin fifth starter

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitcher A.J. Griffin didn't dazzle in his final audition for the fifth spot in the rotation. But all indications are the Rangers had already made up their minds before Griffin started against the White Sox during a 6-2 loss on Tuesday.

By the time Griffin took the mound at Camelback Ranch, the Rangers had already optioned Nick Martinez to Triple-A earlier in the day. He joins Chi Chi Gonzalez, who was sent down last week, while Jeremy Guthrie was released on Monday.

That leaves Griffin in the fifth spot unless the Rangers have one last-ditch move in them before Opening Day.

"I'm trying not to read [into] anything right now," Griffin said. "I'm just preparing to pitch whenever they tell me to pitch."

Manager Jeff Banister was asked if Griffin is the fifth starter.

"We haven't announced that yet," Banister said. "I haven't informed A.J. of anything yet, other than he'll continue to pitch."

Griffin went 3 2/3 innings on Tuesday, allowing five runs on seven hits with no walks. He struck out six.

"I thought he threw the ball well," Banister said. "He had a good fastball, curveball mix; we saw the changeup today. I thought he made good pitches, quality pitches. I like what I saw."

Griffin ended up pitching 18 innings in Cactus League games, and he allowed 12 runs on 20 hits. The positive was he walked two and struck out 19. The negative was he gave up six home runs, including a two-run shot to Todd Frazier in the first inning Tuesday.

Frazier crushes two-run homer

"I like the fact that he gets outs," Banister said. "He gets swings and misses and gets the ball on the ground when he needs to."

Griffin pitched more innings this spring than he did in the past two seasons.

The 28-year-old right-hander was a 14-game winner for the Athletics in 2013 who underwent Tommy John surgery two years ago. He pitched just 14 1/3 innings in the Minor Leagues on a rehab assignment last season before being shut down by shoulder issues.

"I feel pretty confident in all my pitches," Griffin said. "I feel really excited with the way my pitches have come back to me and the way it has been going. I feel every time I go out there I feel sharper and sharper. It has been exciting the way it has come back to me."

Griffin would have had a better line on Tuesday, but he couldn't put away Alex Avila with runners on second and third with two outs in the fourth. The Rangers trailed 2-0 at the time. Avila, a former All-Star catcher with the Tigers, worked the count full, fouled off a couple of pitches and then lined a single to right to bring home two runs.

Avila's two-run single

Worth noting

Hanser Alberto was the winner of the Rangers' free throw shooting tournament held during the morning all spring behind the clubhouse. He beat Elvis Andrus in the final on Tuesday morning.

• Outfielder Jordan Danks was among those who were released from Minor League camp.

• The Rangers announced their Minor League rosters on Tuesday, including pitcher Matt Bush being assigned to Double-A Frisco. Bush hasn't pitched in professional baseball since 2011 but impressed in Minor League camp, including three scoreless innings in two Cactus League outings.

Luke Jackson, who has been sidelined for most of Spring Training with a stress reaction in his lower back, has been throwing bullpens without issue and could appear in a Minor League game later this week.

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.