Right-hander Shawn Tolleson was slowed earlier this spring by back spasms and is still searching for his regular-season form, but manager Jeff Banister said that will be given the chance to duplicate his breakout 2015 as the Texas Rangers’ closer.
Banister declared in December that Tolleson was the closer, but on Thursday Banister also said that the best matchup could dictate who gets the final outs for the Rangers in a particular game. It’s too early to tell definitively, he said, with Opening Day still more than a week away.
Tolleson, though, is going to be found often in the ninth inning after recording 35 saves in 2015.
“Shawn Tolleson will close for us,” Banister said. “I’m going to give him an opportunity to continue to do that.”
Tolleson pitched a scoreless inning Wednesday in the Rangers’ 5-0 win, but it wasn’t easy. He allowed a single and hit a batter on a 1-2 pitch, but still escaped on only 15 pitches.
The Rangers don’t seemed concerned about Tolleson’s spring progress compared to others in the bullpen.
“He’s probably an outing behind those guys,” Banister said. “There’s a different rhythm when you go from pitching on a bullpen mound with no hitter to game speed with hitters. You’ve got to find that rhythm. I feel comfortable that Tolly will find that rhythm.”