CHICAGO -- Derek Holland was 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA in 2011 and pitched a shutout against the Cardinals in the World Series. His 2012 season was derailed by a stomach virus that put him on the disabled list for five weeks but he still won 12 games.
Now Holland is 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA after his first three starts of 2012, and manager Ron Washington said the 26-year-old left-hander is much better than he was even two years ago when he dominated the Cardinals in Game 4 of the World Series.
"Derek is certainly proving not only to us but to himself that he can be consistent," Washington said, "That's something that he thought about over the winter, to be prepared to do just that. It's nice to see him out there using all his pitches and throwing them for strikes. His breaking ball has much more depth and he has brought his breaking ball back into play. For the first few years, it was his bread and butter and he got away from it. He's not leaving his fastball over, he's putting it where he wants to.
"He's competing and he's executing his pitches a lot better. I'm not going to say he won't leave some over the plate or hang a breaking ball. But he's able to execute and commit. He's much better to me. He's a more polished pitcher than he was when was 16. His stuff is consistent and has been consistent since Day 1 of Spring Training."
Borbon on waivers, will learn his fate by Friday
CHICAGO -- The Rangers, unable to complete a trade, have placed Julio Borbon on outright waivers. If Borbon is not claimed by noon CT on Friday, he can be sent to Triple-A Round Rock.
According to sources, the Rangers had a number of teams "kick the tires" on Borbon. But with most rosters set since Opening Day, the Rangers weren't able to find a team that could make room for Borbon. The Orioles were interested and had multiple discussions with Texas, but finally passed on Wednesday.
The Rangers were looking for pitching in return, most likely a reliever with options who could be brought up and down from the Minor Leagues when needed. But a source said the club was willing to consider "lower level" pitchers as well to facilitate a deal.
The Rangers had until 1 p.m. on Wednesday to complete the trade. Borbon was designated for assignment on April 9, giving the Rangers 10 days to trade him or get him through outright waivers. He made the Opening Day roster, but was dropped when Texas had to activate fifth starter Nick Tepesch.
Kirkman struggling, Scheppers thriving out of 'pen
CHICAGO -- Rangers manager Ron Washington was hoping Michael Kirkman could have closed out a four-run lead in the ninth inning against the Cubs on Tuesday. Kirkman had a 4-0 lead and retired the first two hitters. But he gave up a single and a walk and Washington had to go with closer Joe Nathan.
The Rangers hung on for a 4-2 win, but Washington still plans on using Kirkman for late-inning work.
"You just keep giving him the ball in situations when he has a hiccup, he can still work out of it," Washington said. "He's going to be important in that bullpen, so we're going to keep giving him the ball. We've got to figure out a way to get him right and the only way is to give him the ball."
Tanner Scheppers, on the other hand, continues to establish himself as Texas' primary eighth-inning setup reliever. He pitched a scoreless eighth on Tuesday and has not allowed a run in 7 1/3 innings over seven appearances this season.
"Things are feeling good," Scheppers said. "I'm just going out there and doing my piece of the puzzle, just be able to trust your stuff. I'm seeing results on certain pitches and staying with what my strengths are."
Rangers support Autism Awareness
CHICAGO -- The Rangers are offering special discounts on a variety of seating areas for Saturday's 7:05 p.m. CT game against the Mariners as part as their support of Major League Baseball's league-wide autism awareness initiative.
MLB has joined with Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization in a league-wide effort to recognize Autism Awareness Month. All 30 clubs are raising awareness for the disorder during one home game in April.
The Rangers are providing a special ticket price on a variety of seating for Autism Speaks supporters that will also benefit the nonprofit with a $5 donation from each ticket sold at texasrangers.com. Search for and click on Autism Speaks, and enter the password speaks13.
The ceremonial first pitch on Saturday will feature 6-year-old Lily Johnson. An estimated one in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum -- a 78 percent increase in six years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis. For more information about autism and Autism Speaks go to AutismSpeaks.org.
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.