Rangers tab Feldman for opener

Rangers tab Feldman for opener

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have set their starting rotation, optioning pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Derek Holland to Triple-A Oklahoma City and naming Scott Feldman as their Opening Day starter.

The rotation was set up this spring for Rich Harden to be the Opening Day starter, but an adjustment will be made so that Feldman will take the mound on April 5 against the Toronto Blue Jays.

"[Feldman] deserves it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He won 17 games for us last year, and he's throwing the ball very well. He deserves it."

Feldman, who starts against the White Sox on Sunday, will throw live batting practice later in the week and then be ready for the Blue Jays.

After Feldman comes Harden, followed by C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison. Wilson has been in the bullpen for the past four seasons, but has won a spot in the rotation. Neftali Feliz, who was vying for a rotation spot, is going to the bullpen.

"We told C.J. we would bring him in here and give him the opportunity to be a starter," Washington said. "You have to give C.J. all the credit in the world. He took the bull by the horns and did everything it takes to be a quality starter. He was very impressive.

"He wants to be accountable. He wants to be a leader. He wants people to look up to him. He did everything he could to make that happen."

Harrison and Wilson both made it because Tommy Hunter strained an oblique muscle in his left rib cage and will start the season on the disabled list. When Hunter's ready to pitch, he'll be given a medical rehabilitation assignment in Triple-A that could last up to 30 days, and the Rangers have made no guarantees that he will be in the rotation once that process is completed.

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"[Hunter's] going to have to earn his spot back," general manager Jon Daniels said. "It all depends on how he is doing and how we're doing up here."

McCarthy has started the season in the rotation two of the past three years, but he compiled an 8.03 ERA this spring while working on a new delivery and was unable to keep up with the others.

"We told Brandon we know what he's capable of when he's healthy," Daniels said. "He has been an effective starter for us. He has been working on some stuff this spring, and we felt we had five better starters.

"We talked about the bullpen a little, but it made more sense to get him stretched out. The same way with Derek. We have other guys who can handle the middle innings roles. It's better to keep him stretched out."

The Rangers bullpen, along with Feliz, is expected to consist of right-handed closer Frank Francisco, left-handed setup reliever Darren Oliver, right-handed setup relievers Darren O'Day and Chris Ray and long reliever Dustin Nippert.

The seventh spot has not been announced yet, but most likely will be filled by Doug Mathis. Willie Eyre and Guillermo Moscoso are also still candidates.

The Rangers have not made a decision on Ben Snyder, the left-handed reliever who was acquired through the Rule 5 Draft, but he is not going to make the team.

The Rangers also sent outfielder Craig Gentry, pitcher Alexi Ogando and catcher Kevin Richardson back to the Minor Leagues on Saturday morning.

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