SURPRISE, Ariz. -- With Matt Harrison on a schedule that would make him the Opening Day starter, Yu Darvish has been put in position to pitch the second game of the season against the Astros on April 2.
The Rangers still have not made an official announcement on their rotation, and it's not a big secret that Harrison and Darvish are their top two starters. But the Rangers have set up their rotation to start off the season with Darvish following Harrison.
Harrison is scheduled to pitch Saturday against the Dodgers in Surprise. If he pitches every fifth day for the rest of the spring, he would start on March 21 against the Angels, March 26 against the Cubs and March 31 against the Astros on Opening Day in Houston.
Darvish is scheduled to pitch Monday against the Royals in Surprise. If he pitches every fifth day the rest of the way, he would pitch March 23 against the Reds and March 28 against Mexico City at the Ballpark in Arlington. That would put him in position to pitch on April 2 against the Astros in the second game of the season.
The Rangers open the season with a three-game series against the Astros on March 31 and April 2-3. Either Derek Holland or Alexi Ogando will pitch the third game in Houston. The Rangers are off on April 4 before opening at home on April 5 against the Angels.
The question is if the Rangers will bring Harrison back for the home opener or go with either Holland or Ogando. Because the Rangers have two days off during the first week, they don't need a fifth starter until April 9 against the Rays.
Kinsler, Andrus show off aggressive baserunning
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers leadoff hitter Ian Kinsler reached on an error to start the first inning on Thursday against the A's, and Elvis Andrus followed with a ground-ball single through the left side.
Kinsler went to second, slowed down as he rounded the base and then broke for third. The move surprised A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and he threw too late to get Kinsler. Andrus then raced into second base. Instead of a routine runners at first and second, the Rangers had them at second and third with nobody out and Lance Berkman and Adrian Beltre coming to the plate.
"I was ready to go," Kinsler said. "He put his head down and I took a chance. It was an educated risk. Anytime you get the opportunity in Spring Training, you want to take advantage of it. It helps you get your legs under you and shows you where you're at."
The play is a reminder that the Rangers want to be a great baserunning team again, and they intend to achieve that by staying aggressive.
"That's something that has separated us from the rest of the league, and it's something we need to do," Kinsler said.
"A 1-2 punch," Andrus said. "That's what we have to do. Makes it easier for Berkman and Adrian."
Kinsler and Andrus also had back-to-back doubles in the third inning and turned a double play behind starter Randy Wells in the first inning. They are getting ready for their fifth season as a double-play combination, and only Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano have been together longer as partners. They have five All-Star appearances between them.
Jurickson Profar has been a big story in camp, but the single biggest reason why he'll likely end up starting the season in Triple-A is because the Rangers are set at shortstop and second base. Manager Ron Washington doesn't appear eager to break that up or reduce their playing time, even though Profar is the guy everybody wants to talk about.
"He's the hottest prospect, so they're going to talk a lot," Andrus said. "He deserves it. We don't pay attention to what people are saying. We know what we're doing. We don't need to have people calling our names. We're just getting ready to play."
After impressing Rangers, Profar excited for Classic
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Infielder Jurickson Profar has proven to the Rangers that he is ready for the Major Leagues. They don't need to see anything more, so Profar will join the Kingdom of the Netherlands team for the championship round of the World Baseball Classic.
"It should be quite an experience for him playing in that spotlight and a high level of baseball," manager Ron Washington said. "He's already shown us he can play. It's quite an opportunity for him."
Profar has not yet made the Opening Day roster, because the Rangers are still reluctant to bring him to the big leagues in a limited utility role. He would make the team if Washington can find him 300 at-bats, but that may be difficult behind All-Star shortstop Elvis Andrus and second baseman Ian Kinsler.
"Jurickson Profar hasn't made this team, so I'm not speculating on it," Washington said. "Our decision will be based on what's best for him and the organization. We haven't come to any conclusions."
Profar, who is from Curacao but has family living in Holland, initially declined to play for the Netherlands because he wanted to stay in camp and impress the Rangers. Having more than done that, he will replace infielder Yurendell de Caster, who was taken off the Dutch roster with a foot injury. Profar has been told he will play second base for a team that has been one of the two biggest surprises in the tournament.
"It's going to be fun," Profar said. "I'm going to play on the big stage. I'm excited and looking forward to it."
Veteran Lowe set to make Rangers debut Friday
SURPRISE, Ariz -- Derek Lowe will be on the mound for the first time this spring when the Rangers face the Giants on Friday in Scottsdale, Ariz. Lowe was signed to a Minor League contract last week and has thrown three times on the side since arriving on Friday. He is scheduled to throw 35 pitches over two innings.
"What's tough is I have to go out and make the team, so there is no way of easing into it," Lowe said. "At some point I have to pitch in a game. I've had three productive side sessions, so I'm ready to go. I started throwing in the middle of December and I've been working out in the gym. I may have missed about 10 innings not being here from the beginning. Now I have to get out there and earn a spot. I'm excited. It's like being a rookie."
Lowe, who has pitched both as a starter and a reliever in his 16-year career, is competing for a spot in the bullpen. The opportunity is there because some of the leading right-handed setup candidates have not seized a role.
Besides Lowe, Joe Nathan and Jason Frasor, the Rangers have seven right-handed relief candidates who have Major League experience: Josh Lindblom, Evan Meek, Tanner Scheppers, Yoshinori Tateyama, Justin Grimm, Colin Balester and Cory Burns. Those seven had a combined ERA of 9.82 going into Thursday's game against the Athletics, with opponents hitting .358 off them.
Texas' most effective right-handed relievers have been Johan Yan and Coty Woods. Yan has pitched five innings and not allowed a hit. He has walked one and struck out six. Woods, who is a Rule 5 Draft pick from Colorado, has a 1.69 ERA.
• Jeff Baker went into Thursday's game leading the Cactus League with a .529 batting average and a .568 on-base percentage.
• The Rangers have split-squad doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday. Nick Tepesch will pitch on Saturday against the Cubs in Las Vegas, and Matt Harrison will pitch at home against the Dodgers. On Sunday, Robbie Ross will face the Cubs, and Justin Grimm will take on the Mariners in Peoria, Ariz.
• The Rangers are scheduled to face Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw on Saturday and Mariners right-hander Blake Beavan on Sunday. Both are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
• Joe Nathan and Evan Meek both pitched a scoreless inning for Triple-A Round Rock in a Minor League game against Omaha on Thursday. Jason Frasor pitched in the same game and allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.