Rangers get good news on Millwood

Rangers get good news on Millwood

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers sent a parade of players to get an MRI on Monday, but they were gratified to see pitchers Kevin Millwood and Joaquin Benoit get through a simulated game without any problems.

Catcher Taylor Teagarden (left wrist) and third baseman Travis Metcalf (hamstring) both had MRIs on Monday and pitcher Brandon McCarthy was sent for a second MRI on his right elbow. Dr. Keith Meister still thinks McCarthy has severe inflammation, but the Rangers want to double-check the elbow from a different angle to make sure of the diagnosis.

Millwood has been bothered by a strained hamstring and has yet to pitch in a Cactus League game but threw 51 pitches over three innings in a simulated game against Minor Leaguers Steve Murphy, John Whittleman, Manuel Pina and Chad Tracy.

Pitching coach Mark Connor was happy with the outing, but Millwood wasn't quite as thrilled.

"I felt good, I just wanted to throw the ball better than I did," Millwood said. "It's not my stuff, I just wasn't locating the ball very well. I just wasn't happy with it."

Connor admitted pinpoint location is tough for a pitcher who has been limited to just two simulated games this spring.

"He's disappointed in his location, but he's a perfectionist," Connor said. "That's what I like about him. I'm not disappointed as long as he's able to walk off the mound. He was able to pump his arm 51 times and threw a lot of fastballs."

Millwood is scheduled to be the Rangers' Opening Day pitcher on March 31 against the Seattle Mariners and has three more starts here in Spring Training. The next one is scheduled for Saturday against the Colorado Rockies, but Millwood may pitch in a Minor League game instead. That would allow the Rangers to maintain control of his pitch counts and movements.

Millwood will throw two bullpen sessions prior to that and throw some fielding drills. How he does in those workouts will determine if he pitches against the Rockies or in a Minor League game.

"I'd like to be able to pitch in a game and do everything, but I also understand erring on the side of caution is better," Millwood said. "I just want to make sure I'm mechanically right and my location is where it needs to be before Opening Day."

Benoit, who has also not appeared in a Cactus League game because of a sore right shoulder, threw 15 pitches over one inning in the simulated game without problem. But the Rangers still aren't sure when he'll be able to pitch in the game. A side session in the bullpen is the likely next step.

Spring Training
News and features:
• Laird's thoughts on catching job  400K
• Wilson reacts to getting closer gig  400K
• Young on Ichiro's praise  400K
• Millwood on first spring start  400K
• Hamilton on spring in Arizona  400K
• Mendoza feeling good  400K
Spring Training info:
MLB.com coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

"Joaquin's arm strength is just not there yet," Connor said. "But it's good to see him back out on the mound."

C.J. Wilson (elbow inflammation) did his throwing in the bullpen and without problems. He hasn't pitched in a Spring Training game since Feb. 29 and probably will need one more bullpen session before returning to the mound in a Cactus League game.

Feb 29 was the last time Hank Blalock played third base in a Cactus League game because of a sore shoulder and some lingering soreness from a car accident. But he was back at third base on Monday night against the San Diego Padres.

The news for his backup wasn't as good. Metcalf underwent an MRI on Monday and has a partial tear in his hamstring, an injury suffered in a game against the Brewers in Maryvale. He could be sidelined for at least two weeks and possibly longer.

Teagarden has a bone bruise from getting hit on the left wrist with a pitch last week but is getting concerned that there hasn't been any improvement. He also underwent an MRI on Monday.

"I can't swing the bat and I can't receive the ball," Teagarden said. "I've got full range of motion but an impact kills it. They say it's a bone bruise, but I want find out what's going on."

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