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ARLINGTON It was a chilly morning on Tuesday as the Rangers opened their mid winter pitching camp.In 26 days, the team will be in Surprise, Ariz. to start another season.

'We feel good about our kids on the pitching staff,' says Rangers manager Ron Washington. 'It's just a matter of them believing because we believe in them.'

The pitching camp is filled with workouts and meetings but it's also the beginning of the process to find a replacement for Derek Holland. It's a great opportunity for someone to step up, team officials say.

'Well it's a huge opportunity for someone no doubt about it and it could be someone who is already here,' Washington said.

That lists starts with Matt Harrison, who pitched only 10 innings last year. He was sidelined with two back surgeries after winning 18 games the year before.

'I want to prove to them that I'm healthy,' Harrison said. 'I want to be honest with them and ready to go, but I don't think I need to prove to them that I'm able to pitch at this level because I feel like I've done that so far.'

That's not the case for Nick Tepesch who was a rookie last year. Tepesch pitched 93 innings and won only four games in 17 starts.

'I feel like I want to just continue to improve and build off the year I had last year,' Tepesch said. 'I had my ups and downs last year. Being on the DL, I really got to experience a lot of different things whether good or bad.'

Pitcher Michael Kirkman pitched 22 innings last year all in relief. He will also be fighting for Holland's starting spot.

'There is a spot there and I definitely want to try and take advantage of being able to obtain that spot and then reprove myself to the organization and reprove myself to myself honestly,' Kirkman said.

Colby Lewis, Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers are all in the mix. Don't count out the possibility of a free agent signing although it would not be a top level pitcher.

'I think there are always guys signed this time of year that end up playing big rolls on good clubs,' Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels said.

That may still be exactly what the Rangers need until Holland returns.

Email griba@wfaa.com

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