SURPRISE, Ariz. — Robbie Ross kicked off the competition for the fifth spot in the Rangers’ rotation with a solid showing Friday. He was the lone candidate to throw in the spring opener, as he pitched scoreless sixth and seventh innings against the Royals.The other leading candidates will make their debuts today (Randy Wells) and Monday (Martin Perez, Justin Grimm). Kyle McClellan is in the mix, too, but he doesn’t have a scheduled day to pitch yet.McClellan is dealing with soreness in his back and is still in recovery mode from shoulder surgery on July 10.“You have to take your time to get back,” McClellan said. “The good news is the repair site is not a problem. A week ago, I felt great. But I haven’t faced hitters since May and this is part of the process.”McClellan is being patient in his rehab process and there is still plenty of time for him to show he deserves the fifth spot. The Rangers are playing just their second of a franchise-record 38 spring games today.Ross started what is expected to be a heated competition off well. He allowed only two base runners on an error and a single, throwing 32 pitches.“It was the first game, so I just tried to throw strikes and get out of the innings as quickly as I could,” Ross said. “All three of my pitches – fastball, slider, changeup – felt good coming out.”WBC-boundInfielder Leury Garcia accepted an invitation to play for the Dominican Republic in this year’s World Baseball Classic.Garcia had been debating whether to play, and felt it was too great of an honor to turn down.“Very excited to be with all those guys,” Garcia said. “I told them, ‘Hey, wherever you want me to play, infield or outfield, I’ll do it.”Garcia is among the candidates for a bench spot with the Rangers as a utility player. Leaving big-league camp might diminish his chances, but manager Ron Washington wasn’t ready to weigh in on it.“He had to make his own decision and I’m not going to form an opinion on what happens if he stays and what happens if he leaves,” Washington said.Darvish dateYu Darvish will make his first spring training start Tuesday against the White Sox at Surprise Stadium. It appears that most of his starts will come at home this spring.Darvish started four games last spring, going 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA. He allowed six runs with eight walks and 21 strikeouts over 15 innings.Darvish is the last of the known starters to start. Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando pitched Friday, and Matt Harrison will start Sunday.Resting regularsOpening Day is more than a month away, but Ron Washington fielded questions regarding playing time Friday. After the late-season collapse last year, Washington said he might have run his regulars into the ground.But Washington hasn’t formulated a plan for rest this season, as he has three All-Star infielders in third baseman Adrian Beltre, shortstop Elvis Andrus and second baseman Ian Kinsler.“I’m not sitting around trying to find where I can take time away from the field from those guys,” he said.Washington likely won’t have the luxury of using the designated hitter spot to give players a “half-day.” Lance Berkman is expected to get the majority of DH starts.BrieflyRon Washington on Ian Kinsler bouncing back from a down year: “He gets a chance to start anew. Everything is fresh and he’s got to focus and put his year together and I believe he will.”Former Rangers Rusty Greer, Kenny Rogers and Mark McLemore are scheduled to be guest instructors next week in camp.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison