Wilson was told Saturday he would be one of the club's starters this season before scattering four hits and two runs, including Prince Fielder's first homer, over six innings in the Rangers' 3-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
The 29-year-old right-hander has not started in the major leagues since his rookie season in 2005, when he made six starts among 24 overall appearances.
"I think there is a lot of people who haven't seen me as a starter healthy," Wilson said. "I was a hurting, haggard, damaged Tommy John [surgery] survivor and they had written me off. But I always felt I could start."
Wilson's career between starting assignments has been successful. Over the past four seasons he has posted an 11-13 mark in 234 games with 51 saves while serving a variety of roles from seventh- and eighth-inning setup man to closer.
Last season, Wilson was 5-6 with 14 saves in a career high 74 appearances.
"He was the bullpen," Rangers pitching Mike Maddux said.
Wilson has allowed nine earned runs in 20 innings over five starts this spring with six walks and 18 strikeouts.
"You have to give C.J. all the credit in the world," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He went out there and took the bull by the horns. He showed he's capable of going through a lineup and putting the ball in play and doing everything he can to be a quality starter."
While some pitchers struggle with changing roles, Wilson has thrived due mostly to what he said is an extremely competitive nature.
"It's 100 percent related to desire," he said. "If you want something bad enough you'll leave no stone unturned along the way. It's that desire to make everything a competition."
Wilson allowed two hits and three walks in his first five innings before allowing Fielder's two-out, two-run homer in the sixth.
"We've all been waiting for Prince to get it going," Brewers manager Ken Macha said.
Brewers starter Randy Wolf seemed to have everything going in his next-to-last start of the spring, allowing only Julio Borbon's two-out single in the third over six scoreless innings. Wolf walked one, struck out seven and faced three batters over the minimum.
"He has been amazing," Macha said. "He knows what he's doing out there. His slow stuff setup his fastball and he had some stirkeouts where he threw it right by them."
Wilson finished with four walks and eight strikeouts. ... Shortly before the first pitch, the Rangers acquired 2B Andres Blanco from the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named or cash. Brewers OF Ryan Braun took the day off as part of what Macha said was "spring training caution." Milwaukee OF Corey Hart, who had a tooth removed on Friday, returned to the lineup in right against the Rangers. Brewers catcher Gregg Zaun left the game after six with cramps in his left leg. Before the game, the Rangers optioned RHP Brandon McCarthy, LHP Derek Holland and OF Craig Gentry to Triple-A Oklahoma City. McCarthy and Holland will be part of the minor league club's starting rotation. Washington said he hopes to get second baseman Ian Kinsler some at-bats by Tuesday or Wednesday. Kinsler has been out the past two weeks with a high ankle sprain.