The Rangers thought Millwood might skip Friday's start because of a sore calf muscle, but pitching coach Mark Connor said, "He's all fired up and throwing good."All but three pitchers in camp have been scheduled to throw in one of the first four exhibition games or the B game on Friday: Reliever Eric Gagne (elbow surgery) threw in the bullpen on Wednesday and is throwing off a mound every third day. He is still concentrating on building up arm strength and arm speed and Connor said he's not sure when he'll throw in a game. Jose Vargas finally arrived in camp and threw a quick bullpen session for Connor. Left-hander John Rheinecker remains sidelined with back spasms. The Rangers were hoping that he would be back on the mound by now but that hasn't happened. Said Connor, "He's as frustrated as everybody else right now. It's tough because he's worked so hard this winter. No doubts about Sosa: Manager Ron Washington said he has "no doubts" that Sammy Sosa will be on the Opening Day roster, even though he is in camp on a Minor League contract. "I'm not saying [everybody] else has no doubts, but Ron Washington has no doubts," Washington said. "If he doesn't perform, doubt will set in but right now I have no doubts." Why no doubts? "I trust my instincts," Washington said. "I trust my baseball instincts. If he gets the proper work and with the knowledge he brings, he will perform." He said it: "The biggest thing I've seen with our pitchers is their confidence level is much better. They feel like they belong here now."
-- catcher Gerald Laird Contract talks: The Rangers signed six more players to one-year contracts: outfielder Nelson Cruz ($382,000), Victor Diaz ($382,151), Laird ($400,322), Littleton ($382,000), Loe ($390,765) and Brandon McCarthy ($396,068). The Rangers have four players still without contracts for 2007: Kinsler, outfielder Jason Botts and pitchers Koronka and C.J. Wilson. The Rangers expect all four to come to terms before the first exhibition game on Friday. The Rangers will likely get a one-year deal done with Kinsler and possibly revisit a multiyear deal with his agents. The Rangers remain in on-going discussions with agent Dan Lozano over a five-year contract extension for shortstop Michael Young. All indications are there are still some issues to be worked out before the deal is completed. Briefly: Washington is starting to get concerned about the large number of autograph seekers who have been drawn to camp by Sosa. Said Washington, "I've seen them all over Michael Young, all over [Mark Teixeira] and all over Kenny Lofton. I understand why the fans are out here, but they have to understand we have work to do, too." ... Cruz has been impressive in batting practice and Washington said, "He's not missing much when they put it in the wrong spot." ... Country/western singing legend Charley Pride arrived for his annual visit to Rangers camp and joined the workouts on Monday.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.