Results tagged ‘ Robbie Ross ’

Opening Day: Who Are These Guys?

BaseballEvan Grant of the Dallas Morning News passed along this interesting tidbit yesterday.

When the Texas Rangers take on the Philadelphia Phillies today in the season opener for both teams, the Rangers Opening Day 25-man roster includes 17 players who were NOT on the Rangers Opening Day roster just one year ago today. The only holdovers? Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross, Jason Frasor, Alexi Ogando, Elvis Andrus, Mitch Moreland, Leonys Martin and Adrian Beltre.

Part of the turnover is due to the current length of the Rangers disabled list. Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Geovany Soto were all on the 2013 roster when the Rangers played the Astros on Sunday Night Baseball. Still, that’s a better than 50% turnover of the roster in just one year’s time.

Gone from last year’s squad are Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, David Murphy, AJ Pierczynski, Joe Nathan, Nick Tepesch, Justin Grimm and Jeff Baker.

Of the Rangers 2010 squad that appeared in the World Series for the first time, only Andrus, Moreland and Ogando are on the Opening Day roster in 2014.

From the 2011 World Series team, you can add Adrian Beltre to the list.

Even accounting for the players currently disabled and expected back this year (Harrison, Holland and Colby Lewis), the 2014 Rangers bear only the vaguest resemblance to the team that came within an eyelash of being the 2011 World Champions. Still, this is a team that has playoff aspirations. If the injury bug that him them in Spring Training gets fixed and remains fixed, maybe they can do it. We just don’t know. To borrow a cliché, that’s why they play the games.

#1 of 162 begins today. Time to find out what these 25 guys, including the 17 newcomers, have got.

RBiA Sunset

Who Are These Guys? -or- Can You Identify That Strange Odor?

Adam Rosales and Josh Wilson your Opening Day middle infield? Doesn’t exactly strike fear into the heart of the AL West, does it?

Jurickson

Jurickson Profar

That’s a possibility for the Rangers come Opening Day against the Phillies on March 31st. We know for a fact Jurickson Profar won’t man second base for the first game, or the second, probably not for the first 81 games. Profar got diagnosed with a torn muscle in his shoulder and will miss 10-12 weeks.

Meanwhile his middle infield partner, Elvis Andrus, is still experiencing soreness on  his throwing arm. He is currently DH-ing and isn’t supposed to throw until this weekend’s final exhibition games in San Antonio, cutting the margin extremely close for the opener.

The Opening Day starter, Yu Darvish, got scratched from his last start because of a sore neck. He insisted it wasn’t an issue but the word out of Rangers camp Sunday made it sound like it hasn’t cleared up as much as he’d like.

Who will start Opening Day? For sure not Profar. Maybe not Andrus. Maybe not Mitch Moreland, still getting over and oblique strain. Maybe not Darvish. Maybe not Shin-Soo Choo, who still has left elbow soreness. Maybe not Geovany Soto, who got pulled in the first inning of Sunday’s exhibition when his leg locked up.

Question-Mark-34Let’s make matters even worse, shall we? The Rangers announced Friday Tanner Scheppers had earned a spot in the rotation and Joakim Soria will be the closer, making it a four-way battle for the last two rotation spots between Tommy Hanson, Joe Saunders, Colby Lewis and Robbie Ross. So what happens? Hanson starts on Saturday and gives up 7 runs in 5.2 innings. Advantage Saunders, right? Wrong! Saunders started Sunday and couldn’t even make it through two innings, giving up 9 runs in an inning and a third. Ross has pitched well enough to earn a rotation slot. I’ve always loved Colby Lewis but this is a guy coming off a hip replacement whose last two starts have come in minor league games. That makes the starting rotation Proven Commodity with a sore neck (Darvish), Second Year Starter who may or may not have a sophomore slump (Martin Perez), Former Reliever (Scheppers), Former Reliever (Ross) and Hip Replacement Guy (Lewis). One of them will get replaced in a few weeks by Missed All But Two Starts Last Year Guy (Matt Harrison). So there’s no concern about the starting rotation, right?

You sense a trend here? Opening Day for the first time in five seasons is filling me with dread. The optimism just isn’t there now. The Rangers have a lot of depth in the minor league system but there’s not much there now at the big league level. That’s why we have a possible starting middle infield of Adam Rosales and Josh Wilson.

Rougned Odor

Rougned Odor

A national beat writer wrote last night the Rangers wouldn’t miss a beat at second base if they start rookie Rougned Odor while Profar is on the mend. Odor is one of the Rangers top prospects, a player Rangers minor league analyst Scott Lucas says just has “that look” about him. Maybe so but he also has only 134 at bats at the Double A level. Is he ready for that big a leap? And if he succeeds, what then? Now there’s another logjam in the middle infield with three quality players for two positions.

I’m not totally against the idea of Odor playing at the big league level. He may already offer more than Rosales or Brent Lillibridge over the next three months. Or he could flame out spectacularly, which is why someone like Rosales or Lillibridge could be the stopgap measure. We know they won’t add much, but as veterans, their output is more of a known commodity. Also to be considered is if Odor hits the big stage, that accelerates his free agency timetable by at least a year. Is the front office willing to risk that year right now?

Only a week to go before Opening Day and there are still a lot of decisions to be made.

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 22

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: 4-2

Overall: 79-57  (1st Place AL West) (+1)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Elvis Andrus   .421/.450/.474  1 Double, 4 RBI

Ian Kinsler .360/.385/.400  1 Double, 3 Stolen Bases

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Jurickson Profar  .174/.240/.348  (But he did have a home run)

Leonys Martin  .174/.208/.304  (But he did have a home run and 5 RBI)

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

7/9 of the Rangers Bullpen (Neal Cotts/Robbie Ross/Joakim Soria/Joe Nathan/Jason Frasor/Tanner Scheppers/Neftali Feliz): 16 Games, 16 IP, 11 Hits, 0 Runs, 3 Walks, 19 Strikeouts  2-0 with 1 Save

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Travis Blackley  5.23 ERA  6 Earned Runs in 10.1 Innings Pitched


It was a wasted week. Again.
Once again the Rangers had a winning week at 4-2, but this time they lost a game and a half in the standings. Texas followed up a great road sweep of the Mariners only to come home and lay an egg in front of the home crowd against the lowly Minnesota Twins. Meanwhile, the second place A’s proved they’re up to the task of repeating as AL West champions by taking three out of four from the Detroit Tigers ON THE ROAD, then came home and swept the Wild Card-contending Tampa Bay Rays. Ron Washington is always quick to say his team can’t worry about what other teams are doing. If they take care of their own business, everything will be OK. Against the Twins, Texas didn’t take care of their own business.

Rangers Hall of Famer Jim Sundberg tweeted over the weekend that, with big series coming up, it’s natural for contending teams to look ahead a bit. I hope that’s the case because the Rangers and A’s are head to head the next three days and Texas needs to bring its A game (or A’s game, as it were). I stated last week it was important for Texas to go into September with a 4 game or more lead because the schedule this month favors the A’s. With a one game lead today instead of four you can officially label me as skeptical about my team winning the West in 2013. This week, it’s six games on the West Coast: three at Oakland followed by three games at Los Angeles. Oakland is at home all week against the Rangers and the Astros. Texas needs to take two of three against Oakland and, dare I say it, sweep the Angels. Anything less and this time next week I’ll probably be talking about the second place Rangers. I hate to talk about the second place Rangers.

On the positive side, welcome back Neftali Feliz! The man whose image is indelibly frozen in my brain when he struck A-Rod out looking to end the 2010 ALCS and send the Rangers to their first World Series returned to Texas Sunday after the long recovery from Tommy John surgery. Feliz threw two scoreless innings against the Twins. His velocity isn’t where it was a couple of years ago but he mixed his pitches well. I’ll pit the Rangers bullpen against just about any team in baseball. The offense is another question altogether,

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 21

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: 4-2

Overall: 75-55  (1st Place AL West) (+2.5)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Adrian Beltre   .350/.480/.750    2 Doubles, 2 Home Runs, 4 RBI, 5 Walks

Ian Kinsler .364/.400/.500  1 Home Run, 6 RBI

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Jurickson Profar  .188/.350/.313

Leonys Martin  .222/.391/.222

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

5/7 of the Rangers Bullpen (Neal Cotts/Robbie Ross/Joakim Soria/Joe Nathan/Jason Frasor): 11 Games, 11.2 IP, 5 Hits, 0 Runs, 2 Walks, 16 Strikeouts  2-0 with 1 Save

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Matt Garza  5.93 ERA  9 Earned Runs (10 Total) in 13.2 Innings Pitched


It was a wasted week. 
You might think that strange considering the Rangers had a winning week at 4-2 and went from a half game up in the standings to two and a half up on the second place Oakland A’s, but it was indeed a wasted week. Why? Because Texas should have a three and a half game lead entering play today. The Rangers pushed the lead to 3 1/2 after Friday’s win over the Chicago White Sox, then couldn’t win either Saturday or Sunday with Yu Darvish and Matt Garza on the mound. The A’s went 1-1 in that span against Baltimore. It was a prime opportunity for Texas to add some space and they blew it. The offense could only score four runs over the last two games of the week and Garza turned in another lackluster performance to boot.

Every game counts in this stretch because the strength of schedule favors Oakland in the September stretch drive. Now is the time Texas has to go into overdrive because the A’s are certainly going to make another push soon. The Rangers have to take advantage against the Mariners this week while the A’s have to contend with the Detroit Tigers on the road. It won’t be easy for the Rangers, as they have to face both Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma in the three game set, not to mention Rangers killer Kyle Seager, who has 11 doubles and four home runs against Texas this season. It doesn’t matter how difficult the chore, they have to take two of three at Seattle this week and follow it up by taking at least two of three at home against the Twins while the A’s host Tampa Bay. The lead is two and a half games now. It needs to increase to four or five games by Sunday. If it’s less than four, there’s still a very good chance the A’s will once again win the AL West. If it’s four games or more, the odds tip over to the Texas side of the ledger.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 19

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: 6-0

Overall: 68-50  (1st Place AL West) (+1)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Adrian Beltre   .435/.536/.739    1 Double, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4 Walks

Alex Rios  .571/.625/1.000   1 Double, 1 Triple, 2 RBI, 3 Runs Scored in 2 Games

Joey Butler   .500/.600/1.000   2 Doubles, 2 Runs, 1 Walk in 5 Plate Appearances

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Ian Kinsler .200/.276/.280

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Martin Perez   2-0, 1 Complete Game, 1.76 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 15 K in 15.1 IP

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Only Robbie Ross and Matt Garza had ERA’s over 4.50 for the week, but both get a pass as Garza won his game, striking out 8 while walking only 1 and Ross only pitched 2/3 of an inning for the week. No Frios por la semana (for the week).

Talk about making lemonade out of lemons. On Monday, the axe fell on Nelson Cruz, the Rangers’ top run producer for 2013. Instead of bowing their heads and feeling sorry for themselves, the Rangers went right ahead like they didn’t miss him at all. How does a season long 7-game winning streak hit you? Without Cruz, but admittedly with the benefit of playing the AL West’s bottom two teams, the Rangers swept the week at 6-0 and went from 2 1/2 games behind the Oakland A’s to a game on top in the AL West.

Regular readers of this blog know Texas just shifted its focus against the Angels to a speed game and ran at will on the LA pitching and catching staff. The Astros were a little different animal. Houston just isn’t a very good team and even when their starting pitchers did their job, the bullpen ensured the Rangers would come out on top.

I put two players in the Jalapeno Caliente column this week even with limited at bats. Alex Rios came over in a trade from the Chicago White Sox and immediately paid dividends. In his first game Saturday, Rios walked his first time up, then singled and hustled into second on a throw to third in his second plate appearance. In the 8th, with Texas trailing 4-3, Rios tied the game with a triple, then came home on a grounder, knocking the ball out of Jason Castro‘s glove at the plate to score what proved to be the winning run. For Sunday’s encore, Rios scored the Rangers first run following a single in the 5th, added an RBI double in the 6th to make it 2-0 and scored in the Rangers’ 4-run 9th. For someone who came to Texas with a reputation for not hustling, Rios sure didn’t look like the guy the scouts were talking about. Maybe it’s playing on a club with playoff aspirations for a change. Rios tweeted after Sunday’s game he’s never encountered a team with as much energy as the Rangers. It appears to be catching.

The other honorable mention went to Joey Butler. At the advanced baseball age of 27, Butler finally made it to the big leagues for the first time, being recalled following Cruz’ suspension. He was to be the right-handed hitting complement to lefties David Murphy and Leonys Martin in right field. That platoon lasted all of five days when Texas acquired Rios. Butler only got to start one game for Texas before being sent down to AAA Round Rock, but he made the most of it, mashing two doubles and scoring twice off Houston’s Eric Bedard. I hope Butler gets to come back up as a September call-up. Everyone loves to cheer for those types of underdogs.

Another week facing sub-.500 teams, a streak that won’t end until Labor Day. This week, it’s one game with the Astros Monday to close out the 4-game set. Tuesday, an 8-game homestand begins with two against the Milwaukee Brewers followed by three against the AL West foe the Rangers have had the hardest time with in 2013, the Seattle Mariners (8-5). If Texas wins the first three games this week, be prepared for a different looking Jon Daniels. The Rangers GM, along with Dallas radio personalities Ben & Skin, have promised to shave their heads to look like Ron Washington for charity if Texas wins 10 in a row. Here they are side by side. Just imagine what Daniels will look like:

Ron-Washington Hair

Jon Daniels

Interesting Moves

Plenty of moves made by the Texas Rangers today, most of them of the unexpected variety.

The first day of the International Signing Period was today and the Rangers were far busier than even the most aggressive fans would have thought. The rules have changed under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement as it applies to Latin American players. In the past, teams could spend as much as they liked on as many international players as they’d like (usually from Latin America), as long as they were eligible. Texas has been among the freest of spenders on Latin American talent. It has netted them Jurickson Profar, baseball’s #1 prospect and current utility player; Martin Perez, now in the starting rotation; Alexi Ogando, a starting pitcher now on the DL; and a whole slew of players working their way through the minor league system.

This year, the rules have changed. Teams are given a cap on how much they can spend on Latin American players and the cap varies depending on the parent club’s fortunes in the standings. The Houston Astros can spend the most, the Rangers are among the teams who can spend the least. It’s also complicated. Teams can acquire more money to spend via trades. At least one club already has done that this year. If clubs go over their cap, they not only have to play a luxury tax, they’re penalized the following year.

Count the Rangers as a team in the penalty box. Today they’ve already signed SS Yeyson Yrizarry (Baseball America’s #7 International prospect), RHP Marcos Diplan (BA’s #6), OF Jose Almonte (MLB.com’s #13) and SS Michael DeLeon (BA’s #26 prospect) for a combined total of over $5 million. Texas didn’t make any deals to acquire more cap money. Their cap budget was $1.94 million, so they’re already at least $3 million over the cap. Texas will have to pay an extra luxury tax of  100% (another $3 million) PLUS in next year’s signing period, the most they’ll be allowed to sign a prospect for will be $250,000. If an International Player Draft comes to pass, Texas would pay the luxury tax PLUS lose their first round pick in the 2014 and 2015 drafts. Texas has apparently decided to go all in this year and look elsewhere next year, probably to Japan or on a Cuban defector, neither of which is a part of the International pool of players.

As if this wasn’t interesting enough, the big league club made a move today that is very curious, designating RHP Kyle McClellan for assignment and recalling RHP Josh Lindblom from AAA Round Rock. McClellan was certainly a candidate to be DFA’d. After a decent start, allowing one run over 4 innings in his first three appearances, McClellan gave up runs in each of his next four outings, 7 in all in only 5.1 innings. Not a surprise there at all. What’s curious is the timing. Curiosity #1: Texas is playing Seattle and Houston this week, two teams on the lower end of the league. It’s pretty safe to assume Rangers starters will be able to go longer over the next six games, thus taxing the bullpen less. In other words, McClellan probably would only be needed once at best this week. Curiosity #2: Why was Lindblom brought up to replace him? He’s been a starter all year, including 4 starts for the Rangers. Why convert him to the bullpen now, especially when it’s doubtful he’ll be needed much this week? Curiosity #3: Rumor has it Joakim Soria is about ready to be activated by the

Joakim Soria

Joakim Soria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rangers, perhaps in time for the Astros series this weekend. The former Royals closer will go in back to back outings for Frisco Wednesday and Thursday. As long as those outings go well, and Soria has already tossed 5 scoreless innings in rehab thus far, he’ll be deemed ready to go. That would have been the time to DFA McClellan. Lastly is Curiosity #4: When Soria is activated, who will be the player to go? Lindblom? Why bring him up just for four days? Ross Wolf? He hasn’t done anything to deserve a demotion. Those are the only possibilities in the bullpen. Possibly Nick Tepesch or Justin Grimm could go down to Round Rock, with Lindblom moving into their starting role, but that’s pretty much a lateral move that doesn’t improve the ballclub much, if at all.

The only thing that makes much sense is we’re about to see an unexpected disabled list move on the pitching staff, maybe Tanner Scheppers, who insists he’s healthy yet had horrible command on Sunday. Or we’re about to see the first mid-season trade go down, one that changes the face of the pitching staff. Maybe Robbie Ross or Neal Cotts will find themselves part of a trade package.

Things will start shaking out the day Soria joins the Rangers. We’ll see how the dominos fall.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 11

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: 1-6

Overall: 38-31  (2nd Place AL West) (-3)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Jurickson Profar .350/.409/.450   2 Doubles

Leonys Martin .333/.368/.611  2 Doubles  1 HR

Raspa Frio (Offense):

David Murphy  .143/.280/.190

Chris McGuiness   .174/.174/.174  10 Strikeouts in 23 AB

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Robbie Ross   0.00 ERA  1-0 in 3 appearances, 6 K in 3.2 IP

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Derek Holland   0-1  6.97 ERA in 2 starts 19 Hits Allowed in 10.1 IP

Plain and simple, this past week sucked. That’s what I said a week ago, so if it was then, you can only imagine the ensuing week sucked even worse.  Looking to enjoy home cooking, the Rangers instead burned the meal, dropping six of seven to the Indians and the Blue Jays including the last six in a row. The Rangers offense could muster only 8 runs during the last six games and many of them came in the late innings AFTER everything was already out of control. It didn’t matter if the pitching was good or bad, the offense was so bad you could tell as soon as the opposition took the lead the game was over. Even Yu Darvish, who pitched a gem on Wednesday, could do better than a no decision after giving up only a single run in seven innings of work. As a result, the Rangers fell to second place, three games behind the Oakland A’s.

The only good news for Texas was the return of Ian Kinsler from the disabled list. The bad news: Kinsler went hitless in his first two games back, fitting in with the rest of the punchless crew.

To hammer home the bad timing of this cold spell, this week opens up with four games against the now West-leading A’s at home, followed by three in St. Louis against the team with the best record in baseball, the Cardinals. Another week like last week and Texas could find themselves seven back in no time at all. To say the Rangers need to do no worse than a split with the A’s at home is no exaggeration.

Feeling A Bit Tepesch

Before the game, someone asked me what I expected out of Nick Tepesch in his major league debut with the Texas Rangers. I said I’d be happy if he managed to achieve a line of 5-8-4-4-1-2. After all, the kid has all of one start at the AAA level and that was last week. So I’ve got to say Tepesch walked three guys and I said I’d be happy with a line that included one, so that was a little disappointing.

STTX13_Tepesch_006

Nick Tepesch (Photo credit: mikelachance816)

Other than that, Tepesch exceeded my expectations in every way. He didn’t strike out two, he K’d five. He didn’t give up 8 hits, he gave up only four. He didn’t give up four runs, he only allowed one Ray to cross the plate. And he didn’t go five innings, he got one out into the 8th. Oh, and he picked up his first major league victory 6-1.

I don’t want to go too overboard on Tepesch’s debut and extrapolate a Hall of Fame career for the guy based on one start. After all, Justin Grimm pitched a lights out game for Texas last year in his debut after being called up from AA Frisco and every subsequent start he had brought poor results. Grimm, however, faced the hapless Houston Astros in his 2012 debut. Tepesch was facing a veteran, savvy, potential playoff team in the Tampa Bay Rays. Outside of the third inning hiccup in which the lone run scored and all three of his walks came, Tepesch was a machine.

It wasn’t until his last inning that the Rays had a fly ball out. If it wasn’t a strikeout, everything was being hit on the ground. Fourteen groundouts to one fly ball. Outstanding.

Even better from an overall Rangers perspective, Tepesch saved a Rangers bullpen from overwork. After having four different relievers throw a lot of pitches in Monday’s series opener, it was a pretty safe bet that only three relievers would be available for Tepesch’s start and closer Joe Nathan wouldn’t be one of them.

No problem. Only two were needed and the first, Robbie Ross, only needed six pitches to get through 2/3 of an inning.

What a great debut. A win in convincing fashion and giving his team their third consecutive series win to begin the season. So yeah, I’m feeling a bit Tepesch this morning. I imagine most Rangers fans are feeling the same way.

Don’t Panic

The good news: Exhibition play has started.

 

The bad news: The Rangers, in essence, got swept by the Royals, getting a tie on Friday and dropping games on Saturday and Sunday. I don’t think they even had a lead in any of the three games.

 

BUT I’M NOT PANICKING!!!

 

I’m sorry. I should just say I’m not panicking. All caps bolded would tend to lead to the impression I am indeed already panicking about the upcoming season.

 

Nope, not me. Yeah, Matt Harrison had a putrid one inning of work on Sunday, giving up six hits and four runs. Elvis Andrus doesn’t have a hit yet and committed an error on his first play. Mike Olt started out 0-3 with three strikeouts before finally getting a soft liner to third to end the K streak. He also mixed in an error and an almost error with one nifty play at third defensively. Also among the hitless are Mitch Moreland and Geovany Soto. On the pitching side, Alexi Ogando‘s spring debut was almost as bad as Harrison’s.

 

BUT THERE’S NO NEED TO PANIC!!!

 

English: Michael Kirkman, Texas Rangers pitcher.

Michael Kirkman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Really. Harrison, Ogando, Andrus and Moreland have shown enough over the past 2-3 seasons, worrying about them three games into a 38 game exhibition schedule is like worrying about a new CD from Elton John on which the first cut sucks and you decide his career is over. That’s not to say there’s nothing to pay attention to in exhibition games. For players like Julio Borbon and Michael Kirkman, these are extremely important games. Both are out of options, so not making the Rangers out of spring training no longer means going back down to the minors, it means looking for a new employer. For Kirkman, the first appearance couldn’t have gone better, twirling two shutout innings with three strikeouts. For Borbon, the results are more a mixed bag. Defensively, he’s been OK and made an outstanding play in left field in the first game. Offensively is another question. The .250 average is OK, but he’s also fouled off a couple of bunt attempts and Sunday hit into two double plays. For a speed guy on the bubble, these are the things Ron Washington pays close attention to. Julio’s got to step it up.

 

I also like hearing about the players turning heads in camp. A.J. Pierzynski has been impressed with Robbie Ross so far. Yangervis Solarte, who also had a decent spring training a year ago before playing for AAA Round Rock, has impressed with his bat again. He’s still a long shot to make the team as a utility infielder, as he doesn’t play much shortstop. Rangers radio broadcaster Eric Nadel had high praise for the change-up of Cory Burns. And Wash has liked what he’s seen from corner utility candidate Jeff Baker.

 

In other words, right now I’m just excited to listen to some actual games, regardless of the final score. As the spring progresses, there will be days I turn the game off around the sixth inning when the scrubs I know have no chance of making the club come in. But for now, I’m a happy camper, even with an 0-2-1 start.

 

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