SURPRISE, Ariz. — Perfection is what Derek Lowe thought he had to show to win a job in the Texas Rangers’ bullpen.Lowe did that in his opening eight innings before he admittedly had a “disastrous” inning. He gave up four home runs and six runs in his scheduled fourth inning against the Angels last Thursday.But the Rangers didn’t hold that inning against Lowe. Instead, they saw enough from the 39-year-old veteran to want him in the bullpen as their long man and spot starter, similar to the role Scott Feldman filled last season.“You always like someone who has proven he can get outs at the major league level and he has done that in his career,” manager Ron Washington said.For Lowe, who pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings Tuesday, it’s quite an accomplishment. The 16-year veteran will be pitching in the majors in a season he’ll turn 40, and ranks making the team up there with all of his accolades.Lowe was throwing batting practice to his son’s youth-league team, and long-tossing and throwing bullpen sessions at nearby Florida Gulf Coast University before signing with the Rangers on March 6.“I came into this knowing you couldn’t give up a run,” Lowe said. “That’s the way I came into this camp. I think if my fourth inning [Thursday] would have happened in my first game, I don’t think I’m here. You had to come in and make an instant impression and have competitive innings every time out.“For me personally, it’s a pretty big accomplishment. Now you’ve got to go prepare for the season.”Nathan sharpThe results don’t matter, Joe Nathan said. But he’s still had an impressive week by striking out seven of the nine batters he’s faced his last three outings and appears to be ready for the regular season.Nathan struck out all three batters he faced in a minor league game on Monday, and has thrown three perfect innings his last three outings over a four-day stretch.“Just because I’ve had strikeouts doesn’t mean I’m ready, but I feel ready,” Nathan said. “I’m throwing strikes, my arm strength has gotten better each time out and now we just need the extra adrenaline that comes with the regular season.”Nathan started about a week later than the rest of the pitchers, but has thrown 11 innings this spring. That’s plenty for the 38-year-old who is going into his 13th season in the majors.“He’s throwing the ball well,” Ron Washington said. “As we’re getting to the end, he’s starting to get sharper and sharper.”Bullpen boundGoing into his start Wednesday, Michael Kirkman has not allowed a run this spring. He has scattered three hits with no walks and eight strikeouts over nine innings and five outings.He is pitching well in his role and the Rangers aren’t interested in changing it. Club officials thought about Kirkman as a potential fifth starter candidate, but he will be one of seven in the Rangers’ bullpen.“Kirkman is in a great spot right now, we all love what we’re seeing out of him,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “He’s just so valuable in the bullpen right now and we like where he is and want him to continue having success.”Kirkman was open to the idea of starting, but is willing to do whatever the team asks of him.“At the end of the day, it’s about getting hitters out,” Kirkman said.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison