PEORIA, Ariz. — It’s a thought that has crossed the minds of Texas Rangers officials. Michael Kirkman is pitching well enough to at least start the conversation of moving him into the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation.“It’s been thrown out as a possibility,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “We really like the improvements he’s made. I see him as ready to step into a big role in our bullpen, but there may be some discussion.”Kirkman continued his strong spring with three perfect innings in the Rangers’ 4-3 loss to the Mariners on Sunday afternoon at Peoria Sports Complex.Kirkman has not allowed a run in five Cactus League outings, scattering three hits with no walks and eight strikeouts.The left-hander is still viewed as a bullpen piece, but nobody has emerged as a favorite in the fifth starter competition. That leaves him as an intriguing option.Kirkman hasn’t been told anything about his role and is going about his business as a reliever. But after his three perfect innings, he threw another 12 pitches in the bullpen for a 50-pitch day.With less than two weeks until Opening Day, he has time to stretch out as a starter.Kirkman last started on a regular basis in 2010 at Triple A, and said he simply wants to help the team in whatever role they give him.“Whenever they want me on the mound, I want to be out there and help,” he said.Another fifth starter candidate, Justin Grimm, pitched well. He threw two scoreless innings and has allowed only one run on five hits over his last two appearances (five innings).“He looked good out there,” bench coach Jackie Moore said.Offensively, Lance Berkman had an RBI double and shortstop prospect Luis Sardinas had a two-run single.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison