The Texas Rangers were pretty well set last season when it came to left-handed bullpen arms, especially late in the season after the Rangers made a waiver wire acquisition of Mike Gonzalez.
Now, Gonzalez is gone after the Rangers offered him a minor-league contract, essentially saying they didn't really him, and also let everyone's favorite left-handed grandpa Darren Oliver walk free to go sign with Toronto. That means there are a couple of open spots in the Rangers' bullpen for lefty relievers, and Michael Kirkman is trying to take full advantage of that.
Kirkman has had short stints in the bigs the past two seasons, pitching in 14 and 15 games, respectively, with mixed results. He was thrown to the wolves in the 2010 World Series in a game in which the bullpen was beat to hell by the San Francisco Giants.
But now he's ready to show he can handle a full season in the bigs as he's competing for a spot on the Rangers' Opening Day roster. So far this spring, Kirkman has thrown five innings, walking just one batter and giving up nine hits.
He's shown potential to be a high-strikeout type arm that could end up being a great left-handed specialist out of the bullpen and possibly a starting pitcher down the road.