SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Outfielder Nelson Cruz will be designated for assignment by the Texas Rangers after being informed Tuesday that he did not make the team.
Once the Rangers make that move, they will have 10 days to trade or release Cruz, who hit .211 in 23 spring games.
The Rangers also told outfielders Jason Ellison and Kevin Mench, a fan favorite when he played for the Rangers from 2002-06, that they will start the season at Triple-A Oklahoma. That is where Cruz will likely go if he clears waivers.
Officially, Texas made two moves with their major league roster Tuesday. Right-hander Frank Francisco was optioned to Oklahoma and right-hander Eric Hurley, the team's first-round pick in 2004, was reassigned to the minor league camp.
Manager Ron Washington did confirm Tuesday that left-hander C.J. Wilson will be the closer and that designated hitter/first baseman Jason Botts will be on the opening day roster after hitting .357 in 20 spring training games.
Before Tuesday, Wilson appeared in only three major league spring training games, pitching three scoreless innings. He had 12 saves last season, and was the primary closer after Eric Gagne was traded in July.
"We're down to the point that he showed me enough and looks healthy," Washington said. "He's throwing the ball well and he's the obvious choice."
Still undecided is whether Gerald Laird, the opening day starter last season, or Jarrod Saltalamacchia, traded to Texas in the Mark Teixeira deal, will be the starting catcher.
"We hope to clear that up soon," Washington said. "I just haven't reached that page yet."
Ellison and Mench were in camp on minor league contracts. Mench spent the last 1½ seasons in Milwaukee, after being part of a six-player deal in July 2006 that brought Cruz to Texas. Cruz hit .237 in 137 games for the Rangers since then.
Notes:@ The Rangers also released several minor-league players Tuesday — infielders Jim Fasano, Micah Furtado and Matt Smith, left-handers Eric Cyr and Marc Major, right-hander Andy Walker and catcher Kevin Gossage. … Texas signed RHP Mark Alexander and C Caleb Moore to minor-league contracts.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.