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Rangers' Holland tries to earn spot with effort on and off the mound

Rangers' Holland tries to earn spot with effort on and off the mound

March 21st, 2011 in News

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) - Derek Holland made the argument on the mound and continued after his outing was over.

He wants a spot in the Texas Rangers' rotation.

Holland pitched five strong innings Sunday to help the Rangers beat the Kansas City Royals 5-2, snapping a five-game losing streak.

"I had all my pitches working for me," he said. "I was locating the ball well and my defense behind me was making the plays. Everything was working out perfect for us. The A-game."

The left-hander allowed an unearned run and five singles, struck out three and walked one. Brett Tomko finished for Texas, yielding one run and four hits.

Holland's role on the Rangers could be linked to Neftali Feliz, who could join the rotation after saving 40 games and winning the AL Rookie of the Year award last season. If Feliz becomes a starter, Holland could end up the in the bullpen, where he was in the 2010 playoffs and World Series.

"My goal is to make the rotation," Holland said. "Feliz wants to be there, too. It's going to go either way. It's our job to make it hard for them. If I get put in the bullpen, I'm going to be OK, but like I said I'm going to be in that rotation. I know I will. I have confidence. Confidence is everything."

All-Star closer Joakim Soria pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the Royals, finishing his outing with a flourish. Elvis Andrus hit a leadoff double in the seventh and Josh Hamilton followed with a single, but Soria struck out Adrian Beltre, Michael Young and Nelson Cruz to end the inning. He also struck out Mitch Moreland to begin the eighth.

"That's the closer in him," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "First and third and all of a sudden that extra little thing he's got that makes him so special kicks in. We're up to the point in spring where we're trying to get him up to a 35-pitch inning and we did that today."

Moreland had two hits, including his third spring homer, for Texas. Julio Borbon went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .380.

Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur snapped an 0-for-25 skid with three hits, including a double. Vin Mazzaro gave up two runs and six hits in five innings.

Royals catcher Jason Kendall, who had rotator cuff surgery in September, was held out of a minor league game Sunday with a tender shoulder.

"We going to back him off a day or two and get some of that soreness out," Yost said. "It's nothing serious. It's part of the rehab process. Time is on our side. He's so far ahead of schedule. We don't want to do anything crazy or stupid either, push it to the point it's going to have an extended shutdown due to inflammation."