SURPRISE, Ariz. – Even after throwing three solid innings, Paul Maholm faces a tough challenge to crack the Los Angeles Dodgers' rotation.
Maholm allowed one run on three hits in three innings as a Dodgers split squad and the Texas Rangers tied 5-5 Saturday. The game was halted after nine innings.
Maholm won 23 games the past two seasons and signed as a free agent on Feb. 8 with the Dodgers, who have a deep and stacked rotation. He has started 242 of his 243 games in the majors.
"I'm going to prepare and pitch whenever they tell me to," Maholm said. "If I pitch well, then everything is going to work out. I'm not concerned with roles or anything. You pitch well, they find a spot for you.
"I'm preparing the season like I have in the past. I think this is my 11th spring training, so I'm going to do the same thing. I go out there and get outs. I try to get quick outs."
Maholm got four groundball outs, including Michael Choice rolling into an inning-ending double play in the second inning.
"My arm felt good and my pitches were working," Maholm said. "When I got ahead, I was able to get groundballs."
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was impressed with Maholm's outing.
"I thought he was good and sharp," Mattingly said. "He's right on schedule. It is going in the right direction for him so far."
Shin-Soo Choo, signed by the Rangers to a seven-year, $130 million contract, went 0 for 2 with a strikeout, dropping his average to .176 with one extra-base hit in seven games. Choo did drive in a run in the fifth with a sacrifice fly.
"Getting better," Choo said. "The first couple of games, I was swinging late, but now I'm hitting the ball more in the middle of the park. Every game I play, I'm getting better timing and consistency. In spring training, I try to see the most pitches I can. Sometimes I get to two strikes to get into a two-strike approach. I try not to swing at a ball."
Dodgers: Maholm threw 41 pitches, 28 for strikes. All three hits he allowed came in the second inning.
"The first inning, I was in a rhythm," Maholm said. "The second inning, I could tell my mechanics were all coming out of zip."
Rangers: Tanner Scheppers, who is a candidate for the rotation, labored through 2 2-3 innings. He threw 57 pitches to 12 batters before being yanked after walking Adrian Gonzalez with the bases loaded.
Dodgers: Zack Greinke (strained right calf) threw 35 pitches in a two-inning simulated game Saturday. Outfielder Matt Kemp (left ankle surgery) hit off Greinke and took some limited-range fly balls to supplement his running program.
"It's not 100 percent, but pretty solid," Greinke said. "There's something in there, but it was pretty good."
Rangers: Shortstop Adam Rosales was a late scratch with a stomach virus. Left-hander Derrek Holland (knee surgery) checked into the Rangers' camp for the first time, but he is not expected to return to the rotation before July. Matt Harrison, who has been set back with back issues, will throw a bullpen session Sunday and if all goes well could throw in a 'B' game Tuesday.
PUIG EXCUSED ABSENCE
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was excused to leave camp Saturday to attend to a personal matter, Mattingly said. Puig is anticipated to be back Sunday and play against the Giants. He is hitting .176 with no home runs in seven games after hitting .517 with three home runs in the Cactus League last year.
MAN FOR ALL POSITIONS
Chone Figgins made his third start at second base. He has started at six different positions this spring for the Dodgers.