Notes: Wright still 'excellent'

Notes: Wright still 'excellent'

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- As far as Jamey Wright is concerned, this spring has gone as well as he possibly could have expected.

"I'm going out there and pounding the strike zone," Wright said. "I have a new delivery. I feel confident, I feel great. I feel like I can dominate. It's a pretty good feeling."

Wright's growing fifth-starter candidacy is one of the big stories of camp and he did nothing to hurt it in his 3 1/3 innings of work Friday night. Wright allowed two runs on four hits while walking one and striking out three.

"I saw some more super stuff," manager Ron Washington said. "Good breaking ball, nice hard slider. He started rushing his delivery the last inning, but once again, I saw excellent stuff."

Pitching coach Mark Connor had only one caveat about the fifth-starter competition:

"Kameron Loe -- pitch-for-pitch -- is right there with him," Connor said.

Loe and Wright appear to be co-favorites for the spot. Bruce Chen remains a contender. Josh Rupe (15.43 ERA) and John Koronka (12.00) are fading fast. Washington said they will both keep getting the ball, but it's time for both to get it going.

"March 18, that's when the judging starts," Washington said. "If you've got game, you better bring it."

Washington also didn't express too much concern for pitcher Robinson Tejeda, the Rangers' fourth starter who has thrown 6 2/3 innings this spring and allowed 10 hits and six walks.

Young aims for Wednesday: A word about Michael Young's left ear: ugly.

But that still didn't keep Young from getting hugs and handshakes from teammates as he rejoined them Friday, three days after undergoing minor surgery to repair a laceration.

Young's sutures are still in place, meaning he still has to limit his exposure outside and he still can't put a batting helmet on his head. The sutures come out Wednesday and Young said he expected to be ready to return at that point.

"My understanding is the chances of this happening again are one in a million," Young said. "The chances of it happening at all were one in a million."

It did happen Tuesday when Young was hit in the left side of his helmet with a pitch thrown by White Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd. Young said the pitch hit the helmet right on the hearing hole. That compressed the edges of the hole into the ear, and then they snapped back into place, tearing skin and cartilage.

"It was a freak thing, totally freaky," Young said. "I picked up my helmet to go to first and blood was flowing. It wasn't trickling, it was flowing."

Spring Training
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Teixeira, Cruz still out: First baseman Mark Teixeira remains sidelined with a sore left knee. The Rangers don't expect him to be out too much longer and they may get him some extra at-bats in a Minor League game to make up for lost time.

"He needs to see some pitches," Washington said. "This way he can lead off every inning if they need him to and they can use a pinch-runner for him."

Nelson Cruz is still sidelined while dealing with the aftereffects of getting hit by a pitch Monday. He told Washington on Friday he was ready to go, but the manager wanted to give him one more day.

He is just 2-for-12 in six exhibition games.

"It's going to be very important for him to get some at-bats and get his timing down," Washington said. "But there's no pressure on him. He's our best outfielder defensively."

Mahay saves day: Ron Mahay has something that Akinori Otsuka and Eric Gagne don't have this spring: a save. He picked up one by pitching a scoreless ninth in a 4-3 victory over the Padres on Friday.

"There's a new closer in town," Mahay joked afterward.

"Billy Wagner Mahay!" said outfielder Marlon Byrd.

"Yeah, but about 10 miles per hour slower," Mahay said.

He said it: "I'm so happy. Michael almost made me cry and there's no crying in baseball." -- Washington, on seeing Young return to the clubhouse Friday

Briefly: Comedian Brody Stevens was prancing through the clubhouse in a Rangers uniform before Friday's game, doing a standup routine with the players that will air on FSN's Best Damn Sports Show Period next week. ... Gagne had no day-after problems after his one-inning effort in a Minor League game. His next step is probably a simulated game Sunday. ... To make room for Sammy Sosa on the 40-man roster, the Rangers will likely put Alexi Ogando in the restricted list. He is still in the Dominican Republic because of his visa problems.

Up next: Right-hander Kevin Millwood pitches against the Seattle Mariners at 3:05 p.m. CT in Peoria, Ariz. Loe will follow Millwood to the mound while Koronka, another fifth-starter candidate, will pitch in a Minor League game in Surprise. The game is being broadcast on KRLD 1080 AM. Right-hander Horacio Ramirez starts for the Mariners.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.