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Notes: Loe's done all he can in spring

Notes: Loe's done all he can in spring

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Kameron Loe has proven one thing this spring. He deserves to be on a Major League pitching staff after outpitching every other fifth starter candidate in camp.

"There's no doubt in my mind," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's had the best performance of any pitcher in camp."

Loe's terrific spring continued on Sunday, as he held the Chicago White Sox to two runs on five singles in six innings in a 10-2 victory at Tucson Electric Park. It's the longest outing by a Rangers starter this month and Loe now has a 0.92 ERA for the spring.

He will be on the Rangers' Opening Day roster. He made it clear that he wants it to be as a starter.

"I'm kind of stubborn," Loe said. "I'll be disappointed if I don't get that role, but I'll still be happy to be in the big leagues and help this team win."

Forces conspire against him. The Rangers love Loe but see reasons why Jamey Wright should be the fifth starter. Loe could be more valuable as a long/middle reliever, especially in April when the fifth starter could only make three starts. Wright could also take his free agency if he's not added to the 40-man roster by Wednesday.

The Rangers have talked about keeping their depth. They have talked about taking the best team. They have talked about having a bullpen that is a competitive advantage. They've talked about having a pitching staff that pounds the strike zone.

Loe fits somewhere in every scenario.

"There's been a lot of competition in camp to this point, but Kameron Loe deserves a lot of credit for the way he's gone about his business," Washington said.

Relief watch: The latest on the battle for the final spots in the Rangers bullpen:

• Wes Littleton had his best outing of the spring on Sunday, retiring the White Sox in order in the seventh, and Washington said, "I saw him a little more aggressive, and his stuff was a lot sharper."

• Frank Francisco, working mainly on his offspeed stuff, allowed a run in a Minor League intrasquad game. He is scheduled to pitch again on Tuesday as the Rangers want to see if he can pitch on back-to-back days.

• Rick Bauer allowed one run on three hits in three innings in the intrasquad game.

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Blalock misses trip: Third baseman Hank Blalock was scheduled to be on the trip to Tucson but was scratched because of a twisted right ankle. Blalock fell rounding first base on a base hit in his final at-bat on Saturday.

"He said he could go," Washington said. "Whenever one of my starters playing with a hurt ankle says he can go, well I'm not going to make him come to Tucson. I don't think so. That would be punishment."

Minor Leaguer Adam Fox started at third base and went 3-for-4 while starting three key double plays behind Loe in the field. Fox was 2-for-2 as a reserve in Saturday's game.

"It was a good day, a lot of fun," said Fox, who played mainly at Class A Bakersfield last year. "I didn't try to put too much pressure on myself but just go out and have fun."

Getting dirty: Double-A infielder Tim Hulett was among the Minor Leaguers who was brought to Tucson as a reserve.

Washington saw him in the dugout and asked him, "What position do you play? Second base..."

Retorted Hulett, "Wherever you want me."

Washington laughed and gave Hulett a fist bump, saying, "I like that answer."

Hulett, son of former Major League infielder Tim Hulett, hit .297 between Class A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco last year.

"Every time he plays, he gets his pants dirty," Washington said.

Hulett took over at second base in the sixth inning and immediately made a diving stop to his left on Scott Podsednik's grounder.

He said it: "It was quick work. That's what you want." -- Washington, after his pitchers did not walk a batter on Sunday

Briefly: Robinson Tejeda threw five innings in a Minor League intrasquad game on Sunday, allowing one run on three hits and two walks with five strikeouts. ... John Rheinecker has come down with more back stiffness and the Rangers don't know when he'll be able to pitch in a game. ... Pitcher Brandon Puffer, who has 85 relief appearances with the Astros, Padres and Giants, has signed a Minor League contract with the Rangers. ... The Rangers, Angels and Athletics are a combined 42-30 in the Cactus League.

Up next: Wright pitches for the Rangers at 8:05 p.m. CT on Monday against the Seattle Mariners in Surprise. The game will be broadcast on KRLD 1080-AM and Fox Sports Southwest. The Rangers are expected to start what could be their Opening Day lineup, and Washington said his starters will play the entire game. Miguel Batista pitches for the Mariners.

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

{"content":["spring_training" ] }
{"content":["spring_training" ] }