Notes: McCarthy learns from legend

Notes: Ryan tutoring McCarthy

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers president Nolan Ryan stopped by Brandon McCarthy's bullpen session on Tuesday to tutor him on his curveball.

McCarthy acknowledged it felt weird.

"It's Nolan Ryan trying to teach you how to throw a curveball," McCarthy said. That's [like] Tiger Woods going up to someone on the range and trying to teach you how to hit your wedge shot. It's definitely a cool experience. It's also a lot of advice that I can really take to heart and work on.

"We're working on snapping that curveball harder and getting it so where it's not so easy to pick up out of my hand. He was working with me on that."

Did Hall of Famer Ryan instruct McCarthy on how to throw a 100-mph fastball, which helped make him the all-time strikeout leader?

"I don't know if that's one you can teach," McCarthy said. "If he's got that advice somewhere, I'd love to hear that."

A tender right elbow has kept McCarthy out of early Spring Training games, but he said "everything felt great" after throwing. He is scheduled to start on Friday against the Brewers.

"I threw a lot of curveballs and threw them hard and it felt fine," he said.

Millwood to throw: Kevin Millwood, who is penciled in as the Rangers Opening Day starter, is scheduled to throw a two-inning simulated game on Wednesday. Millwood, who has been sidelined with a sore hamstring, will pitch, but not field his position.

Millwood said he is not sure how his sore hamstring would feel when he has to retrieve bunts or cover first base.

"I haven't tried it," he said. "It feels better, but there are still certain things I do when I feel it, when there's an ache."

John Mayberry Jr., Julio Borbon, German Duran, Brandon Boggs and Max Ramirez will hit off Milwood. The Rangers are hopeful Millwood could start on Monday against the Padres.

Pitchers struggle early: Kason Gabbard and Kameron Loe, the first two Rangers pitchers to face the D-backs on Tuesday, combined to give up nine runs, eight earned, on nine hits, three of them home runs, two walks and a hit batter in the 9-3 loss.

Gabbard yielded four runs on four hits, including a two-run Justin Upton homer, in the first inning. He was removed after Mark Reynolds singled to lead off the third.

"It wasn't my day," Gabbard said. "I thought I made some good pitches and some of the balls fell in. I think one of the only bad pitches I made was to Upton, but it was a 2-0 [count] and I was trying to challenge him. Its Spring Training and we're working on stuff. Obviously, you want to go out there and do your best, but it's baseball."

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Gabbard, a 26-year-old left-hander acquired in the Eric Gagne trade on July 31, 2007, has an 11.25 ERA in his first two outings. He is penciled into the Texas rotation after going 6-1 with a 4.65 ERA in 15 starts with the Rangers and Red Sox last season.

"Gabbard threw the ball over the plate and they just hit it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I'd much rather see that than him putting people all over the bags. He was throwing strikes and those guys swung the bat early today. You have to credit those guys. They didn't miss too much when we put it in the strike zone."

Loe yielded a grand slam to Conor Jackson and a solo shot to Chris Snyder in 1 2/3 innings.

"I was rushing to the plate a little bit," Loe said. "I left a few balls up. The results didn't look good, but that's what spring is for. Make a few mistakes here, so that you can clean them up and go into the season strong. I'm out there throwing some new pitches, mainly a couple of different grips on my changeups, and throwing pitches in counts I probably normally wouldn't, just to get work in."

He said it: "I'll read the paper until my eyes get tired, put my Ipod on and go to sleep, wake up, go to the field and start sweating."--Washington, on his itinerary for the lengthy Thursday trip to Tucson

Briefly: Josh Hamilton, who singled in the first, has hit in all four games he has played. He is 7-for-11, a .636 average. ... Eric Hurley, a 22-year-old right-hander who was a 2004 first-round pick, was impressive, throwing three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out three. "He pounded the zone, used his fastball and had a better breaking ball this time," Washington said. "He threw it over for strikes and that made his fastball better. He was very aggressive." ... The Rangers have switched their alumni instructors. Pete O'Brien and Steve Buechele are in camp. Buechele said this is his first Spring Training since 1995. ... Michael Young went 2-for-2 with his first home run and scored two runs on Tuesday.

Up next: Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison, who was acquired from the Braves last July in the Mark Teixeira trade, will make his second spring start at 2:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday. The Brewers will counter with right-hander Dave Bush at Surprise Stadium.

Alan Eskew is a contributor for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.