Results tagged ‘ Craig Gentry ’

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 26

Rangers primary logo

Here’s a wrap-up of the past week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 7-0

Overall: 91-71  (2nd Place AL West) (-5)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Craig Gentry  .391/.462/.435, 1 Double, 3 RBI, 6 Stolen Bases

Alex Rios .346/.357/.654  3 Doubles, 1 Triple, 1 Home Run, 8 RBI, 3 Stolen Bases

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Mitch Moreland  .200/.333/.200

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Texas Bullpen (Neal Cotts/Joe Nathan/Robbie Ross/Tanner Scheppers/Joakim Soria/Jason Frasor):  22 Games, 5-0 with 3 Saves, 20.2 Innings Pitched, 10 Hits, 1 Run, 7 Walks, 27 Strikeouts

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Alexi Ogando  3 Runs, 8 Hits Allowed in 5.1 Innings Pitched

The Texas Rangers have not qualified for the post-season, but thanks to an incredible last week of the season, they are guaranteed a 163rd game.

Say what you will about Texas getting to stay home the entire last week of the season to face the only two teams they dominated all season, they still needed every one of the seven straight wins they put together on the week to qualify for even this 163rd game. The Monday night match-up with the Tampa Bay Rays is not officially a play-off game, it’s actually a regular season game, with all stats counting towards the regular season total. Win tonight and THEN the Rangers can say they’ve made the post-season for the 4th year in a row.

Even with a 7-0 week, the Rangers weren’t the hottest team in the American League. That honor went to the Wild Card bound Cleveland Indians, who will take on the winner of tonight’s Texas-Tampa Bay game on Wednesday while riding a 9 game winning streak. The Indians dominated their week against the two lowest-ranked teams in the AL Central and Minnesota in particular seemed to just roll over against the hot Tribe. By the way, I want to meet the guy who could have said with certainty four months ago that the Indians would make the playoffs sporting a rotation that included Ubaldo Jiminez and Scott Kazmir.

Thanks to the Rays dropping two of their three games with the Blue Jays, the Rangers get to play the Rays tonight with rookie Martin Perez getting the start against David Price. The game will see the return of Nelson Cruz, who has now finished serving his 50-game Biogenesis-related suspension. Cruz will likely be the DH against the Rays. If Texas loses tonight, Cruz will be back for one game and then possibly no longer be a Ranger, as he heads into free agency after the season.

Seven days ago, I didn’t think I’d have anything more to write about in terms of play on the field after today’s wrap-up of the week. I am happy to say I will have more to write, at least for another day.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 25

Rangers primary logo

Here’s a wrap-up of the past week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 0-6

Overall: 84-71  (2nd Place AL West) (-8.5)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Craig Gentry  .571/.600/.786  1 Double, 1 Triple, 4 Stolen Bases

Ian Kinsler  .300/.364/.533  2 Doubles, 1 Triple, 1 Home Run, 4 RBI

Raspa Frio (Offense):

A.J. Pierzynski  .125/.120/.167

Alex Rios  .167/.194/.267

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Alexi Ogando  1-0, 0.75 ERA  1 Run on 4 Hits in 12 IP with 9 Strikeouts over two starts

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Joakim Soria  3 Earned Runs on 4 Hits in 2.2 IP

If there were any hopes among Texas Rangers fans of reaching the playoffs for the 4th consecutive year, they were pretty much dashed with a walk-off grand slam home run in the bottom of the tenth inning at Kansas City on Sunday. The Rangers were already no longer controlling their own destiny, entering play a game behind Tampa Bay and a half game back of Cleveland for the two Wild Card slots. With the Rays and Indians already showing wins in the books Sunday, the Rangers needed a win to keep pace. Instead, they failed to score a run for the third time in September and watched the Royals climb back into the Wild Card Race, albeit by an even slimmer thread than Texas.

There are only seven games to go. The teams ahead of the Rangers both swept their weekend series: the Rays took three in a row from the Orioles, while the Indians swept the lowly Astros. Entering the last week of play, any combination of six Rays/Indians wins and Rangers defeats means Texas sitting out the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

The good news? Texas is at home for the entire last week, playing host to the lowly Houston Astros and the third place Los Angeles Angels. Texas is a combined 25-6 against the two teams. The bad news? First, Texas has sunk to a paltry 39-35 at home. Second, Texas lost two of three to the resurgent Angels in their last series and the folks from LA are extra motivated with slim hopes of at least finishing .500 on the season. Third, the Indians close their season with six games against the White Sox and Twins, the 4th and 5th place teams in the AL Central.

The biggest glimmer of hope for the Rangers is for the Rays to stumble in the last week. Tampa Bay is on the road the entire week against the Yankees and the Blue Jays. The Rays are 36-39 on the road for the year. BUT Tampa also has a winning record on the season against both the Yanks and the Jays AND they have a winning record on the season at both Yankees Stadium and the Rogers Centre. Trailing the Rays by two games, Texas needs the Yanks and Jays to do them a huge solid to get to the Wild Card.

Elvis Andrus put it best after Sunday’s loss: The Rangers have to win out this week. 7-0 is the mantra for the week, and there’s no guarantee that’ll be enough.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 20

Rangers primary logo

Here’s a wrap-up of the past week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 3-3

Overall: 71-53  (1st Place AL West) (+1/2)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Adrian Beltre   .450/.560/.500    1 Double, 4 RBI, 5 Walks

Craig Gentry  .333/.467/.417  1 Double, 3 RBI, 3 Walks and 2 Stolen Bases

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Elvis Andrus .167/.167/.250

Alex Rios .192/.192/.192

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Derek Holland  7 IP, 0 ER, 6 Strikeouts, 0.71 WHIP

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Matt Garza  6.35 ERA, 4 ER in 5.2 IP

Alexi Ogando 5.68 ERA, 4 ER in 6.1 IP


The 10-game winning streak didn’t happen. The Rangers made it to 8 in a row before dropping a game to Milwaukee with Alexi Ogando on the mound. That led to an overall lackluster week of baseball: a win to finish off a sweep of Houston, a split in two games against Milwaukee and dropping two of three, at home no less, to the Seattle Mariners. The Rangers managed to end the week holding on to first place in the AL West, but by a meager half game over the Oakland A’s.

One elephant in the room: the two newest Rangers have performed a bit below expectations. Since throwing seven shutout innings against the Yankees in his Rangers début, Matt Garza has gone 0-2, giving up 15 runs in less than 28 innings of work. The upside? He’s never given up more than four runs and, except for his last start, has gone 7 innings just about every time out. Meanwhile, Alex Rios, who made a great splash in his opening weekend with the Rangers, is at a decent but not overwhelming .273. He’s got a couple stolen bases and he catches the balls Nelson Cruz couldn’t get to in right field, but without Cruz’ cannon of an arm. Rios has only been on board for a week and a half, so I’m still reserving judgement on him, but Garza needs to step it up starting tonight against the Astros.

While losing two of three at home to Seattle is disappointing, especially when the one win was against Felix Hernandez, the Mariners have been just about the biggest thorn in the Rangers’ side all season. Texas has a winning mark against them at 9-7 but none of it has been easy. Kyle Seager especially has been an AL MVP, if only stats against the Rangers were counted. Seager had the deciding hit in Sunday’s loss and leads all hitters against Texas with 13 RBI this season. The Mariners just do well against Rangers pitching. Three of the top four RBI hitters against Texas in 2013 are Mariners: Seager, Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez. Seager, though, is in another stratosphere. He has 11 doubles against Texas. The next closest is Jose Altuve with 5. He and Ibanez are the only players with 4 home runs against Texas this season. Only Miguel Cabrera has a better OPS against the Rangers than Seager. He’s like this pesky gnat that keeps flying around your ear that you can’t get rid of. Fortunately for Texas, there are only three games remaining against the Mariners this season.

The next week favors Texas, with three home games against the Astros and three on the road at Chicago against the White Sox. The two teams with the worst records in the AL. Anything less than 4-2 would be shocking. The A’s get three at home with Seattle followed by three in Baltimore. The Mariners have done even better against Oakland than Texas (8-5 thus far), while Baltimore is 3-1 against the A’s in 2013. Look for the Rangers to add a couple of games to their lead this week, hopefully more than a couple.

How To Come Back In 10 Days or Less

AL West Standings July 29, 2013

AL West Standings July 29, 2013

From June 28th until July 29th, a span of 32 consecutive days, the Texas Rangers failed to gain any ground on the Oakland A’s. In 17 if those 32 days, the Rangers did no better than holding their ground. The other days, they lost ground. By the time the streak of more than a month was over, the Rangers had gone from a half game up in the AL West to a season’s worst six games behind. Texas was in disarray. The offense was dead. Coming out of the All-Star Break, the team looked dead in the water, losing eight of 10, including sweeps at the hands of Cleveland and Baltimore.

Compare that to the last 10 days. In little over a week, Texas has gained back all but a half game of that ground, winning nine of ten and waking up this morning to a tie in the AL West standings with Oakland. The last three wins came without any help from their leading run producer on the year, forced to bow out for the rest of the regular season by Major League Baseball for doing something he shouldn’t have done.

It’s one thing being a fan and trying to stay positive about your team, but I don’t think you’d find many Rangers fans who can honestly say they fully expected the Rangers and A’s to be tied atop the standings just 10 days after being six games behind.

AL West Standings August 8, 2013

AL West Standings August 8, 2013

What’s been really cool to see the past few nights is the new Rangers way of winning games. Without Nelson Cruz, the long ball can no longer be the main offensive force. Texas has to get a little more creative to score runs. The Angels were the first to discover the new emphasis on the running game. The Rangers put the pressure on the Angels from the start of the game to the end. The last two wins in their 3-game sweep featured 13 stolen bases against the fading Angels. Leonys Martin swiped 6 bases in two games by himself, one of which came even when the Angels called a pitchout to stop him. Elvis Andrus had 5 swipes and Craig Gentry added the last two. In both Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games, Texas best exemplified the new way of scoring runs in the first. Tuesday, it went like this: Martin had a single and promptly stole second. Elvis Andrus hit a grounder to second and a nonchalant throw to first didn’t get him in time, putting runners on the corners. An Ian Kinsler sac fly brought Martin home. Andrus went to second on a wild pitch. Then Elvis stole third. Following an Adrian Beltre pop-out, another wild pitch plated Andrus with the second run. Wednesday was even better. Martin was hit by a pitch. Andrus walked. A double steal put runners on second and third. After a pop-out, Adrian Beltre was intentionally walked. A Mitch Moreland sac fly plated a run. This time, speed allowed a run to score without benefit of a hit.

Angels manager Mike Sciosia squarely put the blame on his pitchers for the 6 steals on Tuesday. Wednesday, he couldn’t really do that. Tommy Hanson seemed to throw more balls over to first base than he did to the plate, trying to slow down the running game. It didn’t work.

Texas won with defense too, especially Tuesday. First there was Jurickson Profar robbing Mike Trout of a sure double, which you can see following this link: http://wapc.mlb.com/play?content_id=29483275

Then there was Elvis Andrus making lemonade out of a lemon when he tumbled on this attempted steal:

There was also this outstanding play Martin made in right field Wednesday, throwing out Erick Aybar attempting to go to third on a single. There didn’t seem any way to get Aybar out at third, yet not only was he out, it wasn’t particularly close.

Texas will face better pitchers and catchers down the road who will negate the running game somewhat, but while it lasts, it’s a beautiful thing to behold.

Gifts Both Good & Bad

Talk about being the gift-giving season. There were all kinds of gifts being handed out in Tuesday’s Rangers-Yankees game. The gifts at the end were the ones to be remembered the most, but they weren’t exclusive. Gift # 1 was given to the defensively challenged Nelson Cruz in the second inning of a scoreless game:

That was just one example of the great glovework on display by both teams in the game. Center fielder Craig Gentry also had a phenomenal catch for the Rangers, while Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner also had outstanding plays defensively in the game.

Those were fun gifts for any baseball fan. The 9th inning gifts, however, were hurtful and cost the Rangers the game. Clinging to a 4-3 lead, Joe Nathan came on to close the game out against the Yankees. After getting a strikeout on the first batter, Nathan walked Vernon Wells on five pitches. Some were close but called balls. With Wells on first, the ever dangerous Eduardo Nunez came to the plate, Nathan had a plan to pitch to Nunez. Unfortunately, home plate umpire Kerwin Danley decided this would be a good time to stop calling the low strike. With two clear strikes called balls, the count went to 3-2. Forced to elevate his pitches a little more to compensate for Danley’s new higher strike zone, Nathan got one high enough for Nunez to lace a game-tying triple to left-center. Brent Lillibridge would follow with a single that put the Yanks in the lead 5-4.

Adding insult to injury, the ageless Mariano Rivera came on to close out the game for the Yankees. Not that Rivera ever needs any help, but after the debacle of the Nunez at bat calls in the top of the 9th, the calls that went in Rivera’s favor with Leonys Martin at bat were enough to get even the biggest stroke zone apologist of them all, Rangers TV analyst Tom Grieve, to blatantly call out Danley for an inconsistent zone. Trust me when I say in most games, a pitch could show up on the Fox Tracker as a foot outside and Grieve will say itmay have been a borderline pitch.”

I don’t have the FoxTracker from the TV game last night, but the strike zone feature on the MLB At Bat app pretty much mirrored the Fox Tracker. Side by side, here are the Nunez at bat vs. Nathan and the Martin at bat vs. Rivera:

Nathan vs Rivera 7-23-13

Still, I like to give the benefit of the doubt. I know the pitch maps at the esteemed Brooks Baseball web site tend to be more realistic than both the TV FoxTracker and the MLB At Bat strike zones so I went there for the final decision. The Brooks Baseball maps seem to bear out the story. Nathan got hosed and Rivera got huge props:

Joe Nathan Strike Zone Chart 7-23-13 (Brooksbaseball.net)

Joe Nathan Strike Zone Chart 7-23-13 (Brooksbaseball.net)

Mariano Rivera Strike Zone 7-23-13 (Brooksbaseball.net)

Mariano Rivera Strike Zone 7-23-13 (Brooksbaseball.net)

In the end, things in baseball tend to even out. Earlier this season, I wrote about a Rangers win over Tampa Bay that ended on an umpire’s gift to Nathan of a 3rd strike call, so I guess last night evened out. The Rangers also received a gift after the game was over, when the Houston Astros inexplicably came back from 1 run down in the 9th to score their first win in ten tries against the division leading Oakland A’s on a walk-off error. Thanks to that gift, Texas didn’t lose any ground to the A’s. Still, this loss stung, particularly since it had the feeling of an unearned win for New York. As Rangers’ skipper Ron Washington is fond of saying, “That’s the way baseball go.” Yep. And sometimes the way baseball go sucks.

The Return Of…

Good News #1: Colby Lewis made a rehab start for AA Frisco on Wednesday. The line score didn’t look that great, but Lewis said it felt a lot better than his abortive rehab outings in May and feels it’s only a matter of time before he’s back in the Texas starting rotation.

 

English: Alexi Ogando, Texas Rangers pitcher.

Back Soon: Alexi Ogando (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Good News #2: Alexi Ogando will make his last rehab outing for AAA Round Rock tonight, setting him up to rejoin the Rangers rotation Tuesday night against the Yankees.

 

Good News #3: Yu Darvish is a day ahead of schedule and should start Monday night against the Bronx Bombers.

 

Good News #4: 4th outfield Craig Gentry will be activated for Friday night’s opener against the Orioles.

 

You’d think that would be more than enough good news for a team beset by injury after injury, but perhaps there is now bigger piece of good news, at least for the Rangers offense, than this one:

 

Good News #5: Jeff Baker will be activated for Friday night’s opener against the Orioles and could be in the starting line-up.

 

Hard to believe, but Baker was a Godsend to the Texas bench this year, quickly becoming perhaps the best reserve player the Rangers have had the last few seasons. In 37 games, Baker was hitting a robust .317 with a superb OPS of 1.086. Baker’s 9 home runs is still good enough to rank 5th on the club. Against southpaws, Baker is hitting .386.

 

Baker hit the DL a month ago when a high-five delivered by an unnamed teammate (although there’s speculation it was A.J. Pierzynski) bent his thumb back. Suddenly, he couldn’t grip a bat. Just as suddenly, the Rangers bench became downright ordinary. Robinson Chirinos, Geovany Soto, Engel Beltre, Jurickson Profar. Not much to write home about. Baker’s return, along with Gentry’s, puts veterans on the bench to replace the inexperienced Beltre and Chirinos. It also makes it quite possible the struggling David Murphy will become part of a platoon with Baker. Not only is Murph hitting a very unexpected .219 on the season, his .216 average against southpaws includes only four extra base hits.

 

Also losing out a bit on the deal is Profar. The Rangers top prospect not only has played second, short and third, he started a couple of games in left field just before the break. Baker’s return surely ends Profar’s time in the outfield and will probably lower the at bats available to him. Baker can also play third and first. Profar will likely remain Adrian Beltre‘s backup, while Baker will still spell Mitch Moreland on occasion.

 

Texas still wants to add a bat and a starting pitcher, if possible, via trade before the July 31st deadline. Baker’s presence and the possible recall of Manny Ramirez in the next couple weeks could lessen somewhat the immediate need for a bat so Jon Daniels can focus more on the pitching front.

 

Best of all, it’s looking like the Rangers team as most envision it is starting to come back together again. It couldn’t come at a better time.

 

 

 

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 2

Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 4-3

Overall: 8-5 (2nd Place AL West) (-1)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense): Lance Berkman   .313/.450/.438   3 RBI   4 Walks

Raspa Frio (Offense): David Murphy .143/.143/.179

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching): Joe Ortiz 2-0   0.00 ERA   5.2 IP   1 H   .056 BAA

Raspa Frio (Pitching): Michael Kirkman  5.40 ERA in 3.1 IP

Texas ended their homestand by taking two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays, then travelled to Seattle where they split a 4-game set with the Mariners. Ask most Rangers fans and they’ll probably say they were a little disappointed the Rangers didn’t go 5-2 or even 6-1, as all four games with the Mariners were winnable. Instead, the offense has gone decidedly cold. Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz really haven’t provided the power punch in the early going, which in turn magnifies David Murphy’s typical slow start even more, not to mention the overall low results of Mitch Moreland and the center field combo of Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry. The offense is scraping, which is too bad, considering the pitching has been excellent overall. Only Michael Kirkman had an ERA above 4.50 for the week. Yu Darvish gave up 3 first inning runs then nothing else the rest of the way, but Texas could only manage one run of their own in the game.

Upcoming: Another week of both road and home games- Monday off, followed by three games in Chicago against the Cubs and three at home against the Mariners. Don’t expect to see much of Lance Berkman in Chicago. Texas will have to go by NL rules, which means no DH. Berkman could start one game at first base. Otherwise, he’ll be strictly a pinch hitter, especially with cold conditions expected in the Windy City.

One Last Borbon For The Road

Unless an outfielder gets injured (doubtful) or a certain rookie outfielder is sent down to AAA (even more doubtful), tonight marks the end of Julio Borbon‘s days with the Texas Rangers organization.

Tuesday night, rookie Nick Tepesch takes the mound for the first time as a fifth starter. Tepesch is currently at AAA Round Rock, so a roster move is necessary tomorrow. Borbon was the 25th and last man to make the Rangers team. He is out of options so if, as expected, Borbon is optioned to make room for Tepesch, the only way he’ll stay with the Rangers organization is if he clears waivers. Looking at what the Houston Astros accomplished in the first week of the season, I’m willing to bet they would snap Borbon up in a heartbeat and have him in the starting line-up on Wednesday.

If so, good for Julio. I’m not going to dog on him. I hope he finally gets a good chance to stick with the Astros or whoever might pick him up.

English: Julio Borbon, Texas Rangers outfielder.

Julio Borbon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many Rangers fans who have no use for Borbon and haven’t for awhile, mostly because he was such a revelation when he first came to Arlington and never measured up to those first-year numbers in subsequent seasons. Julio played in 46 games at the end of the 2009 season, the year before the Rangers run of playoff appearances began. He scored 30 runs in those 46 games, stealing 19 bases in 23 attempts, adding 4 home runs and hitting .312 in 179 plate appearances. Julio bunted for singles, he kept the opposition on edge and Rangers fans were looking forward to a full season of mayhem on the basepaths in 2010.

It wasn’t to be. On Opening Day, Borbon was at the top of the batting order. After 9 games, he was just 3 for 36 at the plate with one steal. Julio was dropped to 9th in the order and Elvis Andrus was elevated to first, where both would stay for the remainder of the season. By season’s end, with the playoffs in sight, Borbon became a forgotten man. While he recovered from the bad start and ended at .276 for the season, his lack of power caused Ron Washington to put Josh Hamilton in center field and David Murphy in left for the playoffs. While he appeared in 8 post-season games, he started only one- Game 2 of the ALDS against the Rays. In two other games he was merely a pinch-runner.

In 2011, Borbon was back in the starting line-up in center field and was off to a decent start hitting 9th in the order, hitting .270 in 32 games with six steals when he got injured and placed on the disabled list. He wouldn’t return to the majors until Opening Day this year, a victim of the great play of Craig Gentry and Endy Chavez, his own below par defense and the conviction of his manager that he didn’t have the right approach to the game.

Chavez having a career year was something Borbon could recover from. Being in Wash’s doghouse was not. Despite putting up great numbers at AAA Round Rock in 2012, Borbon got passed over for promotion whenever an extra outfielder was needed, with Leonys Martin getting the shot. Even more telling, when rosters expanded on September 1st, Borbon wasn’t even recalled to help out in the stretch run.

So it was that Borbon came to camp this year pretty much knowing the odds were against him. He played well in Spring Training and got enough of his manager’s respect to make the team as the 25th and final player, at least until the 5th starter was needed.

Julio has appeared in just one game of the first six, entering the game as a pinch runner and scoring a run, then getting one hitless at bat afterwards. It will be interesting to see if Wash gives him one last start in a Rangers uniform tonight.

Texas would still like to get something in return for Borbon instead of putting him on waivers, so there’s also a possibility he’ll be traded before tonight’s game with the Rays even gets underway. Trade or waiver claim, I wish Julio Borbon the best. He deserves a place in the big leagues, but it just isn’t in the cards for it to be with the Texas Rangers.

Rangers’ Spring Training Good Signs

Just 11 days from Opening Day and the Rangers line-up is starting to shape up. The first domino to fall occurred Tuesday when Mike Olt was sent back to the minor league camp. Olt was given a chance to win a job as Mitch Moreland‘s back-up at first base and Nelson Cruz‘ back-up in right field but he just didn’t run with it. Olt struggled at the plate throughout the spring and led the club with 12 strikeouts when he was sent down.

I always figured Olt as a long-shot to make the club out the gate. As the second or third best prospect in the Rangers system, it didn’t make sense to me that he would be a back-up. Olt’s struggles, combined with the way Jeff Baker has been locked in at the plate pretty much sealed his fate.

While he hasn’t been sent down yet, the fact #1 prospect Jurickson Profar decided to join the Netherlands team in the World Baseball Classic after the first round was a pretty good sign he won’t be with the Rangers on Opening Day either. Rangers brass has already said Profar won’t be in Arlington unless he could be assured of 350 or so at bats and that appears unlikely.

With the top three prospects all gone (Martin Perez is out with an injury) from consideration, it’s time to look at who is likely to get the few open positions available. Here are the players who have had outstanding springs and will probably be Rangers on March 31st when they play the Astros in Houston:

Jeff Baker

As mentioned earlier, Baker has just been outstanding with the bat all spring long. In 49 at bats, Baker is hitting .449 with a home run and 7 RBI. Best of all, Baker knows his role is as a back-up. Players who know and accept their role prepare the way they’re supposed to and shouldn’t cause problems in the clubhouse.

Yangervis Solarte

In the first part of the spring, anytime someone mentioned Solarte as a possible candidate for the utility infield position, those more in the know would say it wasn’t going to happen because Solarte doesn’t play shortstop. Lo and behold, in the past two weeks, Ron Washington has given Solarte four or five games at shortstop. Whether this results in a roster position remains to be seen, but Solarte, who played in AAA Round Rock in 2012, has some pop in his bat and could be a consideration.

Leonys Martin & Craig Gentry

Most folks figured Martin would be on the big league level this year. The question was would it be as part of a platoon with Craig Gentry or would he win the job outright. The competition has been on and neither player is giving an inch. As of this writing, Martin is hitting .350 with 4 extra base hits, 5 walks and 2 steals. Gentry is at .286 but with a surprising 2 HR’s and has 5 steals without being caught. Other teams have been calling about obtaining Gentry, so Martin could still be the guy fulltime but if Gentry stays, center field could be a fun position to watch on the Rangers this year.

 

English: Michael Kirkman, Texas Rangers pitcher.

Michael Kirkman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michael Kirkman

Kirkman is anothe rplayer who figured to make the club as he is out of options. What was unexpected was how impressive he would be this spring. The southpaws in camp have been excellent and none more than Kirkman, who has now pitched 9 scoreless innings this spring, allowing only three hits with 0 walks and 8 strikeouts. With the injury to Martin Perez, Kirkman has even put himself into the mix for the #5 starter position.

Derek Lowe

I wasn’t necessarily a big fan of his signing but now I look at Lowe the same way as I see Jeff Baker. Lowe has been signed specifically for the thankless job of being the Rangers’ long reliever and spot starter. This is the pitcher who is used the least but expected to give multiple innings whenever he appears in the game. Over the past few years, that role has been filled by Dustin Nippert, Scott Feldman and Roy Oswalt. It’s a tough role but one Lowe is willing to take on and, unlike Feldman and Oswalt last year, is unlikely to grouse about the way he’s being used. Since signing, Lowe has twirled five scoreless innings this spring.

Joe Ortiz

Last year, Robbie Ross opened eyes when he just threw strike after strike and earned his way onto the Rangers despite pitching only in Class A the year before. This year, the same can be said of Joe Ortiz. While he played at the AA and AAA level last year, the diminutive 5-7 Ortiz was said to not have much of a chance of getting to the majors strictly because of his lack of stature. All Ortiz has done is what Ross did last year- throw strikes and make batters swing. The lefty has now thrown 9 scoreless innings, striking out 9 and allowing a meager .167 batting average, putting him well into the bullpen mix.

Nate Robertson

Another lefty, this major league veteran last pitched in the bigs in 2010. Robertson has a career ERA in the 5′s but has been nothing short of outstanding in trying to come back from injuries. Robertson has 10 innings of 3-hit no-run ball so far.

Another minor leaguer to watch out for is Nick Tepesch, who was a combined 11-6 for Hi-A Myrtle Beach and AA Frisco in 2012. Tepesch has opened some eyes in Rangers camp and is still in the mix for the #5 starter job, though I doubt he’ll get it. He could get consideration for an early call-up in case of injury, though.

11 days to Opening Night Easter Sunday.

Prospecting

Most Spring Training exhibition games are worth listening to the first four or five innings. The starters are in for a few innings, the pitchers you expect to be on the team are getting their innings in.

By the fifth inning or so, only the diehards tend to stick around, as the line-ups become more of the minor leaguers who have no chance of making the team this year. Some of them you’ve never heard of, even though you tend to glance at minor league box scores on a regular basis. So I’m sorry Johan Yan, I’m not paying much attention to you right now. Same goes for you, Juan Apodaca. I admit I didn’t even know you were a part of the Rangers organization when you came to the plate yesterday.

Today’s exhibition game with the White Sox is a little different, though. There are only two Rangers regulars in the starting offensive line-up today- Nelson Cruz and Geovany Soto. Despite that, this game has my interest and I wish I could be at the game in person to watch.

Mike Olt - Texas - 2012 Batting Practice

Mike Olt – Texas – 2012 Batting Practice (Photo credit: BaseballBacks)

Jurickson Profar - Texas - 2012 Road

Jurickson Profar – Texas – 2012 Road (Photo credit: BaseballBacks)

Why? Because the starting line-up has all four of the players who have a real shot at making the Opening Day roster. Mike Olt at third base, Leonys Martin in center field, Jurickson Profar at shortstop and Leury Garcia at second base. Of the four, Martin is the best bet at sticking and most expect him to platoon with Craig Gentry in centerfield in 2013. Garcia is the second best bet, whose versatility make him a strong possibility for a utility role. Profar and Olt are the two best offensive prospects overall, but unless a trade or an injury occurs (or Nelson Cruz is suspended), it’s becoming unlikely there’ll be enough at bats available to justify putting them on the major league roster. Instead,  they will more than likely start 2013 in Round Rock.

Still, having all four in the starting line-up today is exciting. All but Martin have reputations as good defensive players. All but Olt have speed on the basepaths. They’re all scouted to be decent to above average bats.

The best I’ll be able to do today is listen, and my work schedule may not even allow me to do that. If you happen to be able to see this game or listen to it, please do. The first few innings could be a taste of the future of the Texas Rangers franchise.

 

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