The Rangers released pitcher Michael Kirkman and moved six others to the minors Tuesday morning.
Outfielder Michael Choice, a former first-round draft choice out of UT Arlington by the Oakland Athletics, and pitchers Luke Jackson and Jerad Eickoff were assigned to Triple A Round Rock. Catcher Pat Cantwell and pitchers Alec Asher and Martire Garcia were assigned to minor league camp.
Kirkman has battled arm soreness early this spring but feels fine at the moment. The Rangers drafted him in 2005. He had stints in the big leagues the past five seasons. Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said the club decided it was obvious Kirkman was not going to compete for a big league roster spot in the near future.
“We felt at this time in his career, after a lot of dialogue, maybe it was best suited for him to get a fresh start with a new organization,” Levine said. “He deserves an opportunity to have a clear path to the big leagues. So we wanted to give him every opportunity to pursue that elsewhere.”
The battle for left field this spring included Choice, but the Rangers decided he’d be better served getting regular at-bats in the minors. Others, including Jake Smolinski (.333) and Ryan Rua (.250), have fared better so far. Choice was batting .063 in nine games this spring. The Rangers traded Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom for Choice in December 2013. He was the 10th overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft by Oakland.
“We see Michael Choice being a big contributor to the Texas Rangers moving forward,” Levine said. “We have very high hopes for him. We traded quality major league players for him but I think we feel as if it would benefit him to go down, get momentum, get a chance to play regularly, everyday at-bats and defensive innings in the outfield.”
Six minor league pitchers were also released Tuesday, including lefties Scott Cousins, Gionny Fracchiolla and Easton Napiontek, and right-handers Jose Mavare, Jacob Raffaele and Brett Teschner.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760