Rangers undecided about Jones

Updated: March 30, 2009, 9:27 PM ET
Associated Press

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said Monday the competition between outfielders Andruw Jones and Frank Catalanotto for Texas' lone position opening may not be settled by the time the team breaks camp Thursday.

"It's a tough one to call," said Washington, adding that he has no timetable.

Texas released left-hander Jimmy Gobble from his minor league contract Monday, thinning the competition for three vacant bullpen spots.

Jones, who turns 32 on April 23, won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves as Atlanta's center fielder before agreeing to a $36.2 million, two-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers before last season. He then hit .158 with three home runs in 75 games, made the first three trips to the disabled list in his career and was released.

Jones agreed to a minor league contract in February. If added to the Rangers' big league roster, he would get a $500,000, one-year contract and the chance to earn up to $1 million in performance bonuses based on plate appearances from 340 to 620.

The five-time All-Star went deep in Texas' 7-5, 10-inning victory over San Francisco on Monday and is batting .288 with two homers and five RBIs this spring. Catalanotto is hitting .333 with one homer and six RBIs.

The Rangers may be more balanced with right-handed hitting Jones, since they start four left-handed batters and one switch hitter.

Texas has a set outfield, with All-Star slugger Josh Hamilton in center, Nelson Cruz in right and David Murphy or Marlon Byrd in left.

The Rangers have three bullpen openings behind closer Frank Francisco, Eddie Guardado, C.J. Wilson and Warner Madrigal, who has made the team, Washington said.

Derrick Turnbow, a contender for one of three vacancies, was scratched from a scheduled appearance against San Francisco on Monday with right knee swelling.

Turnbow, in camp on a minor league contract, can get out of his deal on Thursday if he does not make the Rangers' staff. He had 63 saves for Milwaukee from 2005-06 but has given up six runs and seven walks in nine spring innings.

"At times he's been outstanding," Washington said. "At times he has scuffled to locate the fastball. He's commanded all his off-speed pitches. Some days he's been out there, they can't hit him."

Ryan Rupe remains in the running for a bullpen spot, where injuries to Dustin Nippert and Willie Eyre have muddied the waters. Nippert hasn't pitched in a spring game since March 19 with a strained muscle, and his availability for the start of the regular season is uncertain.

Scott Feldman and Kris Benson are in the running for the final spot in the rotation, and Feldman could work out of the bullpen if Benson becomes a starter. Jason Jennings is being considered for a long reliever spot.

Benson pitched six innings against the Giants, yielding three runs and six hits.

Gobble spent nine days in Rangers camp after being released by Kansas City on March 18. He gave up four hits and walked two in 2 1/3 spring innings with Texas.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press