PHOENIX — Josh Lindblom wasted little time assessing his spring training to date.“Not very good,” Lindblom said.Lindblom struggled in his latest outing, allowing three runs on two hits, hitting a batter and striking out three against the Dodgers on Thursday. He has an 8.44 ERA in five spring appearances.But Lindblom isn’t panicking quite yet. There are still three weeks until Opening Day, and he feels as though his fastball command and off-speed pitches have improved.Now, he’s just waiting for the results.“When you look at a pure results standpoint, it hasn’t been good,” Lindblom said. “People say that results don’t mean anything out here, but they do tell you something. They tell you if guys are seeing the ball on you and what kind of swings guys are putting on you.“But it’s just a matter of tightening everything up and focusing in and not missing on the middle of the plate.”Lindblom isn’t the only bullpen candidate strugglingEvan Meek has gotten off to a slow start with a 13.50 ERA in five appearances. He allowed three runs on four hits over two-thirds of an inning Thursday.Meek and manager Ron Washington expressed little concern at this point, though.“He started out slow, but lately he has been picking it up,” Washington said.Meek has seen progress, too. All of his pitches have felt good and his focus has shifted to establishing an inside pitch against right-handed batters. And, as his arm gets more conditioned, his velocity should rise to the mid-to-upper 90 mph range.“It’s a fine line in spring training, because you want to go in and impress and you want to make the team,” Meek said. “At the same time, you’re also getting ready for a six-month season. So it’s just a matter of staying with the process. The big thing for me is I feel healthy.”Nathan on RiveraYankees closer Mariano Rivera is expected to announce his planned retirement from baseball after the season Saturday. The all-time saves leader has compiled more than 600 saves over his 18-year career, and has accomplished more than any reliever in the game.When Rivera retires, Rangers closer Joe Nathan will become the active player with the most saves — less than half of Rivera’s total. Nathan has saved 298 games in his 12-year career.Nathan isn’t worried about how he stacks up against Rivera or his career numbers at this point.“It’s just time, and Rivera started closing when he was young,” Nathan said. “He’s coming up on his 17th season closing. I think this will be my eighth year. So, for me to get the years that he and Trevor Hoffman have, I’ll have to do it until I’m 45-46.“So you have to jump into the role when you’re younger, and obviously doing it that long is impressive.”Solarte at shortYangervis Solarte made his spring debut at shortstop Friday, but had no plays of significance in the first four innings before the game was called because of rain. But Solarte starting at short was significant.“He’s been working there, he’s been taking balls there, now he gets a chance to play,” Ron Washington said.Solarte, 25, could be viewed as a dark horse for the Rangers’ utility infielder job. If he proves to be a viable option at shortstop, it would increase his chances of making the team.Jurickson Profar and Leury Garcia are two candidates who came up as shortstops, but the Rangers could view their development is best served with everyday jobs in the minor leagues.Solarte has produced offensively throughout his career, batting .288 with 28 doubles, 11 home runs and 54 RBIs in 130 games at Triple A Round Rock last season.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison