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Grant, Sessions suggest #5 job still up in the air

Neither the DMN nor the S-T is running with T.R. Sullivan's report that Jamey Wright is the #5 starter.

Instead, Evan Grant writes tonight that, while Kam Loe has made the team, the organization is still undecided whether he'll be the long man or whether he'll be in the rotation.

Before their game tonight against Seattle, Rangers management will take up the debate over whether it's better to have Loe as the long man in the bullpen in April or as a fifth starter who will only get the ball four times through May 1.

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The candidates for the two jobs are Loe, Jamey Wright, who starts tonight, and lefty Bruce Chen. It appears only one of the two veterans will remain. The Rangers must either put Wright on the roster by Wednesday or offer him free agency. They have until April 1 to make a similar decision on Chen.

The problem the Rangers must sort through is how to divide up the jobs. Because the Rangers want to keep Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla on the normal four days of rest between starts and because the club has three off days in the first three weeks of the season, the club is likely to skip the fifth starter whenever possible. In actuality, a long reliever might get more work in April than the fifth starter.

"In the early going, I think the long reliever might be more important than the fifth starter," Washington said. "But that fifth starter is very important over the course of the year. For the first month of the season, though, you really like to have options."

Loe left no doubt that he'd prefer to be in the rotation.

"I've made that clear the entire time," he said. "I think I've done everything in my power to make that happen. I'm kind of stubborn. I'll be disappointed if I don't get the starter's role, but I'll be happy to make the team. ... I want to do what's important to this team."

In addition to the overall performance this spring, Loe has recently shown improvement in two areas that have hampered him in the past: Getting through the batting order more than once and retiring left-handed hitters.

Similarly, Dave Sessions' blog entry tonight seems to indicate that the Rangers are leaning towards Wright in the rotation and Loe in the pen, but that a decision hasn't been made.