Rangers Believe Scheppers Can Start





SURPRISE, ARIZ. — Tanner Scheppers had logged exactly zero innings in a major league organization when he made his first appearance at big league spring training with the Rangers in 2010. A year later he's back in Surprise, with expectations heaped upon him.

Some in organization say that the righthander will make his big league debut in 2011 as a reliever. Some believe he would be a candidate to make the bullpen out of spring training should Neftali Feliz or Alexi Ogando pitch themselves into the rotation.

Scheppers, the Rangers' supplemental first round pick in 2009, is being stretched out this spring and will be a starter in Triple-A if he doesn't make the major league roster. That appears the mostly likely scenario for Scheppers, who survived his first season physically but is still learning how to pitch.

Scheppers is also dealing with issues in his delivery that kept him from pitching down in the strike zone last year. He struggled at Triple-A (5.48 ERA) after opening 2010 with 11 dominating innings in Double-A.

Now he's in big league camp again, armed with one of the biggest arms on the staff and the goal of showing it off against major league hitters.

"Physically, I've got my body ready," said Scheppers, who is up to 200 pounds and has improved his flexibility. "Long-term I'd love to be a starter. Short-term I'll do anything I can to help the team. Whatever position that is, I'm happy with."

RANGER ROUNDUP

• Righthander Fabio Castillo was expected to miss the first two weeks of his first major league spring training after breaking a bone in his left foot in late January. The Dominican will likely start 2011 at Double-A Frisco.

• Mason Tobin, acquired in a major league Rule 5 draft trade, made an impression from the opening day of spring training as a power pitcher. He was cleared to participate in all throwing sessions after dealing with lingering elbow issues in 2010, though he did experience some soreness early on in camp.