And so it begins … first Cactus League lineup

LIneupMarch4

Manager Lloyd McClendon isn’t rolling out a lot of his starters for today’s first Cactus League game, but fans will get a chance to see the slimmed-down Jesus Montero at first base and a number of the club’s top young prospects when they take on the Padres at 12:05 p.m. PT.

The game will be broadcast live on ROOT Sports and MLB.TV.

“The one thing you have to be careful and really conscious of is you want to keep your horses strong for the entire season and this is just the start of hopefully 162-plus,” McClendon said. “You’ve got to build. You don’t want to run them right of the gate and start playing them six-seven innings and they leave here and they’re fatigued and worn down. We’ll pace them. They’ll play tomorrow. They’ll probably have a day off after that and then we’ll continue to build.”

Taijuan Walker will throw the first two innings, or about 30 pitches max, with relievers then to pick up an inning apiece. Right-handers Sam Gaviglio, Carson Smith and Dominic Leone and lefties Mike Kickham, David Rollins and Rafael Perez are slated for bullpen action today

Chris Taylor gets the start at shortstop and Brad Miller likely goes there tomorrow as that battle begins playing out. Those two will often alternate days, but McClendon said there will also be games when one of them plays second base. And yes, young Ketel Marte will get some time at short this spring as well.

“He’s a very talented individual,” McClendon said. “He’s come quite a long way in a short period of time and I can see why. He’s got a lot of talent and is pretty poised for a kid who is 20 years old.”

McClendon will be among those interested in seeing how Montero looks now in game situations at 230 pounds, having dropped about 45 pounds from 2014.

“I haven’t seen much yet,” he said. “We’ve just been in batting practice for most part and ground balls in the infield. I saw a little last year. I’m excited to see him play and how far he’s progressed.”

In other Wednesday news:

— Felix Hernandez will throw his first live batting practice session this morning. McClendon said he may then throw another live session later in the week or go right into an inning of work in a game situation, depending how he feels.

— After throwing his first live BP on Tuesday, Danny Hultzen could see his first game action later this week as he returns from a year rehab for shoulder surgery.

— Left-hander James Paxton played long toss on Tuesday and was fine. He’ll take today off, throw on flat ground again Thursday and is scheduled for his first bullpen session on Friday as he returns from a bruised forearm.

— The Rangers are returning lefty reliever Edgar Olmos to the Mariners after claiming him off waivers last week. Olmos has had a shoulder impingement and hasn’t been able to throw since joining Texas. The Mariners acquired Olmos off waivers from the Marlins in December, but Texas picked him up after Seattle dropped him from its 40-man roster just prior to camp.

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