GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Robbie Ross may not make the rotation, but he is in the lead as far as longest outing by a Rangers pitcher this spring. Ross went 5 2/3 innings Thursday afternoon against the Reds, allowing two runs on five hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out three.
He gave up an unearned run in the first and a solo home run to Brandon Phillips in the sixth. Otherwise it was his second straight strong start in enhancing his chances of making the rotation. Ross is getting left-handers out, is keeping the ball down and is getting ahead of hitters. He is also developing his changeup as a third pitch. In short, he has done everything the Rangers have wanted him to do in Arizona.
"I feel like I have put my best foot forward out there and shown them what I can do," Ross said. "It's up to them. I've done the best I can. Whatever happens, happens. I want to be in the big leagues, but I would love to be a starter. I love that feeling."
Ross will get one more outing in Arizona on Tuesday. Tanner Scheppers starts Friday against the Brewers, Tommy Hanson goes Saturday against the Royals and Joe Saunders pitches Sunday against the Padres. The Rangers haven't made a decision on the final two or three spots in the rotation.
"Keep pitching," manager Ron Washington said. "Ross has been throwing the ball extremely well. We're going to make a decision, but we haven't made it yet."
Low pitch total may leave Lewis out of rotation
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers want Colby Lewis to be able to throw 100 pitches in a game before he joins the rotation.
That appears unlikely to happen before the end of Spring Training. Lewis threw just 57 in a Minor League game Thursday, allowing one run in 4 2/3 innings against Triple-A Omaha. Lewis will have just one more outing in Arizona and most likely won't be able to throw more than 75 pitches. That makes it tough for Texas to go with Lewis over some of the other rotation candidates who have higher pitch counts at this point.
"I'm still here," Lewis said. "I want to be able to make the club out of camp. If I'm able to throw all my pitches for strikes, I can definitely be competitive in the big leagues."
The Rangers do have some flexibility. Because of an off-day April 3, the club won't need a fifth starter until April 8, the eighth game of the season. The Rangers could have Lewis pitch in a Minor League game before they bring him back to the big leagues for the first time since 2012.
"It's up to them," Lewis said. "We've got a week left, and they're going to make a decision and we'll go from there."
Lewis is in camp on a Minor League contract and hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since July 18, 2012. He underwent flexor tendon surgery in 2012 and hip replacement surgery last August. He'll get one more outing on Tuesday before the Rangers have to make a decision if he is ready to be in the Opening Day rotation.
Left-handed reliever Pedro Figueroa followed Lewis to the mound and threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He allowed one hit and one walk while throwing 30 pitches. Figueroa remains a candidate for the bullpen if the Rangers decide to move Robbie Ross into the rotation.
Lack of throwing hurts Andrus
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus did not play winter ball this offseason. He also didn't do any throwing.
Andrus is paying for his idleness by dealing with a sore arm. He was bothered by a sore shoulder earlier this spring and now it's a sore elbow that is keeping him out of the lineup.
"I'll learn from my mistake next offseason and have a throwing program," Andrus said.
Andrus did not play Thursday against the Reds, but did get multiple at-bats in a Minor League game back in Surprise. He is scheduled to be examined by Dr. Keith Meister on Friday.
"I'm not worried about it," Andrus said. "I'm just trying to be careful about it and let Meister do his job. Every spring it happens, it takes time to get the arms and legs going. This year it's just taken a little longer. It's nothing new or concerning or makes me feel I won't be ready for Opening Day.
"But I feel more rested and that's one thing I was looking for. As soon as the elbow clears up, I think not playing winter ball will help. Having that rest will have me performing at my best throughout the season."
Andrus played much better in the second half last season. He hit .242 with a .280 slugging percentage before the All-Star break and .313 with a .405 slugging percentage afterwards.
Soto set for back-to-back starts
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Rangers catcher Geovany Soto has been playing for one week since returning from ankle surgery. He'll take another step Friday when he starts against the Brewers in Surprise.
Soto caught six innings against the Reds on Thursday, so this will mark the first time he has caught back-to-back games this spring. Soto underwent surgery Feb. 22 to have a bone removed from his left ankle.
"I feel great," Soto said. "Hopefuly it keeps going like this and keep the surgery in the past."
Soto was 1-for-3 against the Reds with a two-run single in the first inning and is 4-for-10 in four Cactus League games since his return. He has also been getting extra at-bats in Minor League games without having to catch.
• Third baseman Adrian Beltre was back in the lineup Thursday after being sidelined for a week with tightness in his left quad muscle. Beltre went 1-for-2, was hit by a pitch and scored a run.
• Shin-Soo Choo was used at designated hitter for the sixth straight game because of soreness in his left elbow. Choo has been on a long-toss program and is hoping to play left field Friday. He said there is no question he'll be ready to play the field on Opening Day. In Thursday's game, he went 1-for-5 with two strikeouts.
• Jurickson Profar had some minor dental work done as a follow up to having his four wisdom teeth taken out last week. He was given Thursday off and will be back in the lineup Friday.
• J.P. Arencibia had another day of getting at-bats in Minor League games. Arencibia is hitting .188 in the Cactus League, but is 4-for-12 with a double and a home run in his last three games.
• Infielder Brent Lillibridge left Thursday's game in the ninth inning with a tight right hamstring.
• Pitchers Michael Zouzalik, Travis Dean and Jose Samayoa were released from Minor League camp.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.