Rangers have quite an array in plans for rotation variation

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — The Texas Rangers have quite an array of pitching candidates behind ace Cole Hamels along with a working plan for some variation outside of a traditional five-man rotation.

Manager Jeff Banister hinted throughout the offseason about the possibility of a six-man rotation.

“We are leaning toward some variation that gives these guys additional rest,” general manager Jon Daniels said Thursday before the Rangers went through their first official spring training workout. “It may be flexible, but we are going to look to give guys additional recovery time. That’s the priority, both for health and performance reasons.”

While their No. 1 starter is healthy after his fewest innings since his rookie season 12 years ago, the Rangers also have returning left-hander Martin Perez. He broke a bone in his non-throwing elbow after being spooked by a cow during the offseason. Matt Bush, a hard-throwing reliever who at 32 is going into only his third MLB season, already declared himself a starter.

Then there are the newcomers:

Mike Minor, a lefty who hasn’t started since 2014, signed a $28 million, three-year contract. He was a full-time reliever with 65 appearances for Kansas City last year after missing two full seasons because of injury

— Right-hander Doug Fister agreed to a $4 million one-year deal that could be worth up to $11.5 million over two seasons.

Matt Moore, another lefty, was acquired in a trade from the San Francisco Giants. Rangers fans may also remember his unexpected start for Tampa Bay, and his seven scoreless innings to win Game 1 of the 2011 AL Division Series. He tied for the NL lead in losses last year with 15.

— And then 44-year-old Bartolo Colon, in camp on a minor league deal. The oldest player to appear in both the AL and NL, he hopes to play in his 21st season and with his 11th major league team.

“My motivation is I like to be around this,” Colon said through a translator. “Of course, if I make the team, I think I can be a good help for the young guys this team has now.”

The schedule was altered a bit because of damp fields after unusual steady rain. Fielding drills were scrapped, though pitchers went through conditioning and bullpen sessions.

“Just not going to risk putting them out on a wet field on day one,” Banister said.

Banister said the organization has looked at a number of rotation scenarios, both for the full season and mapping out the first half of the season.

“Don’t miss the point of this being health-related, peak performance-related, those types of things,” Banister said.

Hamels, Fister and Moore will prepare in spring training like they normally would for a season. Perez will, too, once he catches up on conditioning. A portion of bone was replaced in his right elbow following the fall off a fence at his ranch in his native Venezuela. He had surgery in mid-December and expects to be ready for the start of the season.

Former first-round draft picks Bush and Minor will be making the transition from the bullpen, Bush for the first time in his career. The right-hander, drafted first overall as an infielder by San Diego in 2004, has a 3.08 ERA in 114 innings in 115 games over two major league seasons.

Minor was 6-6 with a 2.55 ERA in 77 2/3 innings last season with Kansas City after missing the 2015 and 2016 seasons with shoulder issues. The Braves picked him seventh overall in the 2009 amateur draft, a year before his big league debut.

“Guys are in different categories,” Daniels said. “You have Matt and Mike that are making a transition. Mike’s done it before, but it’s been a few years. … Mike and Matt, we’ll monitor a little differently.”