SURPRISE, Ariz. — J.P. Arencibia came into spring training as the expected backup catcher, but he hasn’t seized the job yet. Robinson Chirinos remains a candidate and might even be slightly ahead.Asked if Chirinos could still beat out Arencibia for the job, manager Ron Washington said: “No. Arencibia could still beat out Chirinos.”Chirinos has been one of the hottest hitters this spring, batting .435 with one home run and five RBIs in 13 Cactus League games. Arencibia is coming off a poor season at the plate and has struggled this spring, batting .184 with a .205 on-base percentage going into Saturday’s game.But Arencibia is coming around at the plate and has worked extensively with hitting coach Dave Magadan this spring. He had hits in his first two at-bats Saturday.“The effort has been there and we’re starting to see it a little bit,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “We’ll keep watching him over the next week.”Chirinos and Arencibia each have minor-league options remaining, although Arencibia is signed for $1.8 million. But that likely won’t factor into the Rangers’ decision. They are focused on putting together the best 25-man roster possible.More bench newsBrent Lillibridge was assigned to minor league camp, leaving the utility infielder competition down to Josh Wilson and Adam Rosales.Defense ranks most important for that position and Ron Washington believes one stands ahead of the other.“Wilson is the better defender, it’s obvious,” Washington said.Wilson committed three errors early in spring, but has played well since then. He has also swinging the bat well with hits in five of his last six games.“Overall, I’m happy with the work I’ve done in the cage and then applying it in the game,” Wilson said. “But there’s always more to do. No matter what I’ve done this spring, my job isn’t finished by any means.”Rosales, meanwhile, is batting .143 with 11 strikeouts in 28 at-bats going into Saturday.As far as the other two bench spots, it appears that Michael Choice will be the fourth outfielder and the final spot is down between corner infielder Kevin Kouzmanoff or outfielders Engel Beltre and Jim Adduci.Beltre is notable because he is out of options and, if he doesn’t make the 25-man roster, has to clear waivers to remain in the organization.“It’s not a perfect fit for us, a left-handed hitting leftfielder, center fielder,” general manager Jon Daniels said of Beltre. “I’d feel a little better if he was right-handed. We’ve got a decision to make.”Briefly• Left-hander Michael Kirkman is no longer in the rotation mix and is competing for a spot in the bullpen. He’s scheduled to pitch one inning Sunday.• Right-hander Jose Contreras asked for and was granted his release. The 42-year-old was in Rangers’ camp competing for a rotation spot, but was informed earlier this week that he wouldn’t make the team.• Left-hander Ryan Feierabend is scheduled to start Monday’s game against Oakland. He’s still in big league camp, but seems likely to begin the season in the Triple A Round Rock rotation.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison