ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington is facing a difficult decision on who to start in center field Sunday in Texas' Opening Night game against the Astros at Houston -- left-handed-hitting Leonys Martin or right-handed-hitting Craig Gentry.
But he knows which way his gut is telling him to go.
"The spring they had, they both deserve to start and play regularly," Washington said before Thursday's exhibition game with the Mexico City Red Devils at the Ballpark in Arlington. "But it'll probably be Martin because of the right-hander [on the mound for the Astros]."
Washington could have flipped a coin after both young center fielders had stellar springs, but instead he expects to let the fact that the Astros have tabbed right-hander Bud Norris as their Opening Night starter make the decision for him. That said, Washington cautions he is not declaring this a strict platoon.
"If they come back with [another] right-hander Tuesday, I may send Gentry out there."
Norris' splits last season weren't heavily weighted either way: a .720 OPS for right-handed hitters, a .784 OPS for left-handers. But Norris had a 4.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio versus right-handers and just a 1.63 ratio versus left-handers.
Martin hit .350 in Arizona this spring with 11 runs scored and 12 RBIs. Gentry hit .345 with a team-leading 14 runs scored and nine RBIs.
Scheppers, Ortiz make 'pen; one spot remains
ARLINGTON -- The battle of the Rangers' bullpen is down to a single open spot after manager Ron Washington announced that both right-hander Tanner Scheppers and rookie left-hander Joe Ortiz have made the team.
"Scheppers was a little touch and go at the start of Spring Training, but when it mattered, he showed up," Washington said.
Telling Ortiz -- a completely unknown quantity when camp opened -- that he'd made the team made Washington's day.
"He was excited," Washington said. "He tried to hold it down, but I think if we'd kept him in that room a little longer, he'd have started crying."
Ortiz didn't argue.
"There were some tears in my eyes when they told me the news," he said through a translator. "I wasn't expecting this. I hope everyone knows who I am now, but I have to keep working hard and throwing strikes."
Washington said Scheppers will join lefties Michael Kirkman and Robbie Ross as eighth-inning setup possibilities for closer Joe Nathan.
With Scheppers and Ortiz on board, right-handers Josh Lindblom and rookie Cory Burns are competing for the last position in what is expected to be an eight-man bullpen.
Left-hander Brad Mills, picked up on waivers from the Angels earlier in the week, cleared waivers Thursday and was outrighted to Triple-A Round Rock. The leaves the Rangers with 39 players on their Spring Training roster, 31 on the 40-man roster and eight non-roster invitees.
Borbon with Rangers as they try to find deal
ARLINGTON -- Julio Borbon, the odd man out in the Rangers' center-field battle, remained with the team but unofficially in limbo Thursday. Borbon is out of options and the Rangers don't expect to be able to get him through outright waivers, so they're trying to work out a trade.
There's also a chance they might try to buy more time to get a deal done by keeping Borbon on the bench and starting the season with fifth starter Nick Tepesch in the Minors and just seven relievers for the first nine games.
Rangers pitchers Derek Holland and Derek Lowe took a few shots with the Michigan basektball team as it practiced at Cowboys Stadium Thursday ahead of the Sweet 16 and then visited with players in the locker room. Meanwhile, catcher A.J. Pierzynski attended Florida's practice and came back with a box full of Gator paraphernalia.
The Rangers play the San Diego Padres twice in San Antonio to wrap up their exhibition season, with Alexi Ogando starting Friday night's game (7:05 p.m. CT) against left-hander Eric Stults and Holland going on Saturday (1:05 p.m.) against right-hander Jason Marquis.
The Rangers released 19 Minor League players Thursday, including former Arlington Grace Prep Academy standout Matt Thompson, a right-handed pitcher selected in the seventh round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
Others cut: RHP Andres Perez-Lobo, LHP Austen Thrailkill, RHP Ben Henry, RHP Brandon Kuter, RHP Daniel Lopez, RHP Denny Peralta, 2B/OF Gabe Suarez, OF Jared Prince, OF Jeremy Williams, 1B/OF Jhonny Gomez, RHP Jorge DeJesus, RHP Kyle Devore, RHP Shawn Blackwell, LHP Timp Murphy, C/OF Yefry Castillo, RHP Yonata Ortega, RHP Zach Osborne and RHP Zach Simons.
Jim Reeves is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.