First there was “The Case of the Poorly Timed Tattoo” and now there’s a much more serious Rangers injury to be concerned about. In the sixth inning of yesterday’s 7-6 loss to the Mariners, former RoughRiders pitcher Martin Perez was struck just above the left wrist by a Brad Miller line drive and after the game it was revealed that he suffered a fracture of the left ulna bone. It will be at least four weeks until he can begin a throwing program and most indications are that he will be on the shelf until May at the earliest.
What makes this so unfortunate is that Perez was the clear leader in the clubhouse for the fifth spot in Texas’ rotation, a position that failed to produce any wins down the home stretch of the 2012 season. The former RoughRider was having a strong spring training while the other competitors were either: a) struggling; b) injured; or c) inexperienced. Perez, the Rangers’ top minor league pitcher who has been on prospect radars everywhere for the last few years, was looking to make that next step to become a reliable major league starter. That still may end up happening, but this is a big blow in the short term for the club.
The calls for veteran free agent pitcher Kyle Lohse were already out there to some degree and they’ve only gotten even louder since Sunday afternoon. The Rangers will have to decide how big of a setback this is and if they want to put themselves into a position they were in last year with Roy Oswalt. Texas was practically forced to sign Oswalt after some injuries to their pitching staff, but had to stash the former all-star in the bullpen because of ineffectiveness which didn’t sit well with ol’ Roy.
It’s not completely an apples-to-apples comparison, as there would be some differences and some similarities if they were to sign Lohse. The former Cardinals righty is 34, the same age as Oswalt when he signed with Texas a few months into the 2012 season. He has been better than Oswalt in recent years (including a stellar season last year) but has a career track record of mediocrity; he’s almost the opposite of Oswalt’s in that sense. The primary reason Lohse has not signed yet is because he and agent Scott Boras likely want more money and more years than the market has been interested in giving him (as well as the forfeiture of a first round draft pick and the signing bonus pool money that goes along with it), whereas Oswalt simply wasn’t interested in pitching a full season, Roger Clemens-style.
What makes this a tricky situation is the expected return of Colby Lewis as soon as May, when Perez would likely be back. The question the Rangers need to answer is whether they feel they can last the first six weeks of the season with a big question mark in that fifth rotation spot (whether it is Robbie Ross, Justin Grimm, Kyle McClellan, Nick Tepesch, etc.) or if they need to feel a little more certain with a veteran who finished seventh in the Cy Young voting last year. In a very competitive A.L. West, it’s a decision that will likely have big consequences.
Now, on to today’s links, with the two most important off-the-field stories leading off:
In trying to keep Jon Daniels in town, Rangers must be careful not to squeeze out Nolan Ryan - If you missed it, the Rangers announced the promotion of Jon Daniels to president/GM on late Friday afternoon, normally a release time for when businesses want to sweep under the rug to avoid maximum attention. (I’m not trying to say that that’s what the Rangers were trying to do in this case, just pointing out a common practice.) Nolan Ryan, now no longer team president, will continue as CEO and Daniels will report to him. Kevin Sherrington explains the tight-rope walk that Rangers ownership must embark upon to satisfy all wings of their baseball operation and maintain success both on and off the field. A good read.
Nolan Ryan could leave Rangers by the end of spring training, sources say – Randy Galloway has sources who say that Nolan Ryan’s departure from the Rangers is imminent, based on changing roles over who gets final say baseball-wise. Another interesting read on a subject that threatens to take over the narrative of the next month. (note: for this story you need a subscription, but you can easily read the text around the “sign in” pop-up.
Perez injury leaves Texas Rangers’ rotation with questions that Kyle Lohse could answer (subscription required) – Gerry Fraley gives us his thoughts on the rotation quandary created by Perez’ injury.
Justin Grimm all but eliminates himself from Texas Rangers rotation after another ugly outing - Fraley reports on Grimm’s latest rough big league appearance.
Tough day for 5th-spot contenders – Ron Matejko of ESPNDallas.com notes that it was a rough Sunday for two of the Rangers’ top rotation candidates.
Martin Perez out at least two months with broken forearm – Jeff Wilson’s report on the injury of the day.
Tepesch making early impression – Drew Davison’s notes column brings up Tepesch as a possibility for the fifth spot as well as David Murphy’s thoughts on PED penalties.
Murphy eager to step into everyday role – Anthony Andro writes that Murphy expects big things now that he knows his role as an everyday player going into a season. A big year would certainly help his bottom line come the hot stove season, as he is a free agent after 2013.
Nathan makes scoreless debut in Rangers’ loss – Lost in all of the Martin Perez/Nolan Ryan news was that Joe Nathan looked pretty good in his first spring outing.
Grimm remains determined for Opening Day role – Despite poor results this spring, William Boor of MLB.com writes that Justin Grimm is confident he can turn things around and be a contributor to the big league club.
Nathan, E. Beltre primed for spring action – Boor’s notebook has more on the return of Nathan and Engel Beltre, who is back from a left shoulder injury.
Things were progressing in a nice and dull manner out in Surprise until yesterday’s news that Elvis Andrus would be scratched from the Rangers’ spring training game against the Indians. Missing the game itself wasn’t as noteworthy as was the reason why: his left arm was sore after spending nine hours on Wednesday getting a new tattoo, a memorial to his late father. Publicly, the Rangers haven’t seemed too upset over the ink stink, which overshadowed their 10-0 win – the team’s first of the spring. It also may have been a blessing in disguise for Jurickson Profar, who filled in for Andrus at shortstop and tripled in his first at bat off Zach McAllister (the same Zach McAllister who Profar took deep in his first major league at bat last September in Cleveland). The whole “incident” won’t mean much in the long run – which is a good thing – but it certainly made for an eventful Thursday in the desert. On to today’s links:
Andrus sits out due to sensitivity from new tattoo – A.J. Cassavell of MLB.com talks to Andrus and Ron Washington about the new tattoo and missing yesterday’s game. There’s also some good notes about Derek Holland’s impressive performance, Mike Olt in the outfield and Robbie Ross feeling a little sore.
Berkman looks like usual self in first spring at-bat – Cassavell has a look at Lance Berkman’s spring debut, which included a hit, a walk and two runs scored out of the leadoff spot.
Lance Berkman doesn’t show rust in debut – More on Berkman, from Ron Matejko of ESPNDallas.com.
Holland leaves for WBC on high note – The Rangers lefty tossed four scoreless innings yesterday against Cleveland and now leaves to pitch for Team USA at the World Baseball Classic.
Spring break: Rhode Islander trying to catch on with Rangers – Jeff Beliveau is trying to become the first player from the Ocean State to suit up for the Rangers, per Drew Davison.
‘Tattoo soreness’ and other significant developments in the Rangers’ camp – Randy Galloway gives his thoughts on the news of the day and Lance Berkman.
Repeat after me: the games don’t count. It’s reassuring to remind yourself of that every time you see results like yesterday. Or the day before. Or any of these spring training games. It’s only natural to have at least a small amount of concern that the Rangers have yet to put anything other than a bagel in the “W” column, especially given that wins were a rarity over the final few weeks of last season.
(By the way, did you notice the only other team that has yet to post a spring training victory? They play their regular season home games at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, to give you a hint.)
To get worked up over early spring training results is a quixotic endeavor, given the relative rust on the players and the individual tasks they set for themselves that may give way to garish performances. A pitcher’s goal in a spring training game may simply be to throw his fastball for strikes, results be damned. Maybe a hitter is working on a new aspect to his swing. Maybe a player simply isn’t ready for the season at this point in late February. I don’t have problems with any of that. When spring training is over and the battles for the number five starter, utility infielder and regular centerfielder are over, I’m willing to bet (like many others) that the Rangers will have a unit that will be very competitive for a playoff spot in the American League West. Until then, practice your anti-Kevin McCallister face.
Rangers’ Ron Washington says prospect Mike Olt trying too hard – Gerry Fraley has the Rangers skipper saying Mike Olt should not put so much pressure on himself to perform.
Hamilton on Michael Young & the Rangers - It seems like everyone has an opinion on how things went/ended with Michael Young on the Rangers, including Josh Hamilton.
Despite villainous reputation, Rangers’ A.J. Pierzynski a winner, ex-mates say – Fraley writes about the Rangers’ new catcher, who won a World Series with Chicago in 2005 (subscribers only).
Alexi Ogando’s continuing struggles could throw wrench in rotation plans – With most of the focus on the Rangers’ fifth starter competition, everyone is kind of assuming Ogando will step in and be the guy he was a few years ago as a starter. Might not work out quite so smooth, based on early returns.
Rangers not about to ignore Ogando’s early struggles – Just because the results don’t count doesn’t mean that Ron Washington is paying no attention to Ogando’s troubles, writes Drew Davison.
Rangers’ survivors say change is good – Randy Galloway says that the holdovers from a tumultuous off-season are still confident that this club can win a World Series.
Leonys Martin staking claim to CF job – A trio of stories today from Ron Matejko, who is filling in for new ESPN Radio host Richard Durrett. The first has Leonys Martin starting to emerge as a favorite for a more regular role with the Rangers.
Alexi Ogando still working out some kinks – Ogando and Washington talk about the right-hander’s struggles.
Robbie Ross aiming for last rotation spot – The 2011 RoughRider talks about his desire to join the Rangers’ rotation.
Burns stepping forward in Rangers’ bullpen – T.R. Sullivan has Washington giving some kind words to bullpen-hopeful Corey Burns.
Berkman ready for first Cactus League action – Sullivan’s notes column touches on Lance Berkman’s expected spring debut this afternoon, Ogando and injury updates for Engel Beltre & Craig Gentry.
Yesterday the White Sox jumped out to a 12-0 lead and beat up the Rangers 14-8 to drop Texas to 0-4 in Cactus League play. The good news? These games (of course) don’t count for much of anything and, by all accounts, Yu Darvish looked fantastic in his two innings of work. As for 2012 RoughRiders pitcher Cody Buckel? He had a tough afternoon, throwing just 10 of his 31 pitches for strikes and yielding six runs (four earned) with five walks while retiring just one batter. Here are today’s links:
Why veteran Jeff Baker could have edge on Mike Olt for spot on Texas Rangers’ bench – Evan Grant says the journeyman’s experience riding the pine might end up getting him a big league job.
Texas Rangers roster predictions, V2.0 – From a couple days ago, but worth a look as Grant handicaps the 25-man roster.
Same old Josh? Ex-Ranger Hamilton swings at first pitch, goes 0-for-3 in Angels debut – If you’re interested, Josh Hamilton did not set the world on fire in his first game of the spring with Los Angels.
With year under his belt, Texas Rangers’ Darvish already looking like Yu 2.0 – For subscribers only, Gerry Fraley thought highly of the Japanese right-hander’s debut outing.
Cody Buckel survives – Jeff Wilson reports that, despite yesterday’s flameout, Cody Buckel was not incinerated from planet Earth altogether. He also notes that Engel Beltre might not be playing for Spain in the WBC after all.
Rangers catcher feels nothing (yet) vs. old team – Wilson writes about A.J. Pierzynski facing the White Sox for the first time as a Ranger yesterday.
Yu Darvish impresses in spring debut – Another glowing report on Darvish, this time from Ron Matejko.
Darvish off to strong start in second spring – Matt Mosley writes that things are bit calmer this spring for the now more seasoned Darvish.
Plenty of arms to choose from for Rangers – Needing to almost completely rebuilt their bullpen, Anthony Andros says that the Rangers have a diverse group of options available to fill out the open spots.
Rangers prepared to round out rotation in house – Don’t look for Kyle Lohse to come walking through that door, writes T.R. Sullivan.
Berkman may make Rangers debut Thursday – Sullivan has injury updates on Lance Berkman, Colby Lewis and the two Beltres, Adrian and Engel.
Before we get to today’s links, a quick happy birthday shout-out to my brother, Kevin, who’s now only one year away from being eligible to sign an international free agent baseball contract. He’s not the next Jairo Beras, but he is much more talented ninth grade baseball player than I was back in the day. (Also, despite the photo, neither he nor I are Mets fans. Maybe he is a little, but I’m smart enough not to subject myself to that level of misery.) Happy birthday bro!
The Rangers got walloped by the Rockies 9-1 yesterday. Here are today’s links:
Martin Perez impressive in start - As the headline indicates, Ron Matejko was one of many who came away with positive things to say about the former RoughRiders’ official Cactus League debut.
Perez, Grimm motivated to make impression for Texas – Lyle Spencer of MLB.com talks to the two candidates who pitched in yesterday’s Rockies game. Grimm will have an uphill climb after a difficult outing, especially in the face of Perez’s brilliance.
Loquacious Andrus has audience in Texas prospects – T.R. Sullivan has Elvis Andrus taking on a greater leadership/mentor role this spring out in Surprise.
Rangers optimistic Lewis could return in May – Sullivan’s notebook has an update on Colby Lewis’ improved outlook as well as the forecast for Lance Berkman, Jason Frasor and Joe Nathan.
Texas Rangers have reason to keep sidearming Coty Woods on roster, but will he be ready? – Gerry Fraley talks to Rule 5 pickup (and former Tulsa Driller) Coty Woods about his spring and his prospects of sticking with the big club.
Texas Rangers fans start campaign to bring silence to ballpark when Josh Hamilton hits – It will never happen, given the difficulty of getting 50,000 people all on the same page, but it’s an interesting idea.
Young will be in DFW fans’ hearts – Former Ranger Michael Young reflects on his time in Texas and gives his thoughts on how DFW fans should view Hamilton.
Enjoy Andrus while he’s still in Texas – Matt Mosley says appreciate Andrus because it’s not likely to last after 2014.
Martin Perez makes strong spring debut – Drew Davison gives his take on Perez’s outing yesterday (subscription required for most Star-Telegram stories).
Lance Berkman isn’t the retiring kind – Randy Galloway has a story on the Big Puma.
The Rangers began their exhibition slate over the weekend with a tie and a pair of losses against the Royals. Today they’ll get some fresh competition when they venture over to Scottsdale for a date with the Rockies. Here’s a smattering of stories from the weekend that was in Rangers-land:
Perez fired up for chance at rotation spot – Former RoughRider Martin Perez gets the starting nod today for Texas and has as good an opportunity as anyone for the fifth spot in the rotation. T.R. Sullivan gets the thoughts of an excitable Perez.
Harrison battles command in windy conditions – Sullivan writes that Matt Harrison’s first spring outing was a little ragged in less-than-ideal weather.
Tepesch impresses in spring debut vs. hometown team – While he had a few rough days as a RoughRider, there was no doubt last season that Nick Tepesch profiles as a big league starting pitcher. He showed that yesterday with two scoreless innings against the Royals.
Tepesch impresses in debut – ESPNDallas.com’s Ron Matejko has more on Tepesch’s outing yesterday.
McClellan suffers setback – Matejko also has an update on Kyle McClellan, who re-injured his shoulder in bullpen session Sunday morning.
Nolan Ryan’s focus is pitching (of course) – Richard Durrett has Nolan Ryan talking about the club’s pitching situation, including the candidates for the number five spot in the rotation.
After subpar season, Rangers’ Kinsler vows new approach in 2013 (subscribers only) – Evan Grant writes that Ian Kinsler believes he can improve from his down 2012 season.
Texas Rangers have the Kansas City Royals blues – Grant runs down the essentials from yesterday’s 7-5 loss to KC.
Rangers conflicted by Profar’s talent, Andrus’ prime – The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Randy Galloway writes about the dilemma that figures to plague the Rangers for the next two seasons with Jurickson Profar essentially ready for a full-time role at a position where there is zero need for Texas.
Rangers have second hitting coach with ‘old and gray’ Berkman – Dave Magadan’s not the only new hitting coach for Texas, writes Jeff Wilson.
Kyle McClellan still slowed by back soreness – Drew Davison has the Star-Telegram’s notebook with Justin Grimm reminiscing about his stint with the big club last season.
As someone somewhere once said, “Let the games begin!” Today marks the start of Cactus League play as the Rangers and they won’t have to go far to play their opponent. In fact, neither will opponent. Texas will play the Kansas City Royals this afternoon in the stadium they share out in Surprise, Arizona. Derek Holland will get the start against Will Smith while Carlton and Uncle Phil might make an appearance as well. On to today’s Rangers links:
Pudge Rodriguez hired to front office – The big news yesterday was that Ivan Rodriguez was rejoining the organization as a special assistant to Jon Daniels as well as an instructor and ambassador. As a result, we might see Pudge in Frisco this summer like we did with Greg Maddux last year. Drew Davison gets Pudge’s thoughts on catching prospect Jorge Alfaro and also notes the Rangers players who will be competing in the World Baseball Classic.
Five Rangers to watch in spring training – Jeff Wilson says that the Rangers could greatly benefit from big springs from these five players.
Spring Break: New Rangers reliever Josh Lindblom embraces the cold -Davison talks cold weather baseball with Josh Lindblom, who played his college ball in the Big Ten.
Lighter Moreland has heavier role with Rangers – The AP writes that former ‘Rider Mitch Moreland is lighter this spring, both in weight and attitude.
Jim Bowden on Profar/Cano and Ron Washington’s Job Security – Former major league GM and ESPN Insider Jim Bowden appeared on the Ben & Skin Show on 103.3 ESPN Radio yesterday and had some interesting things to say, especially his hypothetical 2014 Rangers middle infield.
Small in stature, LHP Joe Ortiz making big impression - Richard Durrett profiles former RoughRider and dark horse relief candidate Joseph Ortiz (he told me he prefers Joseph, but the Rangers insist on using Joe on their rosters with him for some reason). Last season in his two months with the ‘Riders, former big league all-star Brad Hawpe said that Ortiz was one of the three toughest lefties in the Texas League along with Midland’s Sean Doolittle (who pitched with Oakland by mid-season) and Corpus Christi’s Kevin Chapman.
Rangers hire Pudge as special assistant – T.R. Sullivan has more on the Rangers’ hiring of Ivan Rodriguez.
Holland believes Classic will give him an edge - Sullivan talks with today’s starter, Derek Holland, about the upcoming WBC, in which he is excited to be participating. Some worry that the WBC is bad for pitchers, but don’t count the former RoughRiders lefty in that camp. On an editorial note, how great would it be to see Holland matched up against the Netherlands at some point?
The Rangers avoided the snow that did this to the Match Play Championship out in Arizona yesterday as “Team Jackie Moore,” comprised of mostly Rangers regulars, defeated “Team Bobby Jones” 10-4 in the second intrasquad scrimmage of spring training. The Rangers media relations folks distributed a box score indicating that 2012 RoughRider Cody Buckel pitched an inning for the winning side, but I swear that’s him in the photo above instigating a snowball fight. Anyway, here are today’s spring links (or “splinks,” if you will):
Martin Perez determined to win fifth spot – Richard Durrett has a feature on former ‘Riders pitcher Martin Perez, who’s been the Rangers’ young stud pitching prospect for about 15 years now. Perez thinks that this will be the year he arrives for good after foundering with the big club in 2012. He got off to a good start in Tuesday’s intrasquad game, throwing all nine of his pitches for strikes.
Relief candidates show off stuff - Durrett also cleans out the notebook with a closer look at pitchers trying to make Texas’ bullpen, including 2012 ‘Rider Joseph Ortiz, who earned an Eddie Guardado comparison.
Rangers’ Berkman says calf strain is no issue – Fox Sports Southwest (via the AP) has Lance Berkman essentially saying, “nothing to see here,” regarding his right calf strain. It has to be at least a little concerning for the Rangers considering they are paying him $11 million this season and he played just 32 games last year because of two knee surgeries and a left calf strain.
Lance Berkman lands on injury report – Drew Davison talks to Berkman about his injury but also notes that Leury Garcia may be a WBC candidate for the Dominican Republic because of his versatility.
Five candidates vying for last spot in Rangers rotation – Jeff Wilson breaks down the competition for the number five starting spot between Perez, Randy Wells, Kyle McClellan, Justin Grimm and Robbie Ross.
And, just for the sake of comparison:
Opening Day for the RoughRiders is a mere 43 days away and baseball fans in the Metroplex are itching to see the ‘Riders and Rangers in action once again. As a primer to get ready for the season, we’ll be posting semi-regular batches of links to stories by the local media about the Rangers, giving you a one-stop shop of sorts for all your Rangers news & notes. With today marking the 20th birthday of 2012 ‘Riders shortstop Jurickson Profar, today seemed as good a day as any to start filling you up with Rangers info.
Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com has stories about one of the youngest players in big league camp, former ‘Riders infielder Leury Garcia, and one of the oldest players in Lance Berkman. I know there’s been abundant talk about Garcia’s versatility, but there probably needs to be some pumping of the brakes regarding his ability to play outfield. While he is a premium defensive player whether he’s at second base or shortstop, he is still inexperienced in the outfield and will need a lot more time out there before he can be considered a credible option on any sort of basis at the big league level. He’s a great piece for the Rangers to have, nonetheless.
Jeff Wilson (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) notes that the Rangers hope that their success on offense will start at the top with former RoughRiders Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus setting the tone for the rest of the lineup. Drew Davison gets to know former Montreal Expos draftee Collin Balester, who hopes to make an impact in the bullpen this season. Josh Hamilton is certainly not going to win any popularity contests around these parts, and Gil Lebreton gets Biblical to start his column chastising the former Rangers slugger.
The Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant has some notes on yesterday’s first intersquad scrimmage, including some Yu Darvish observations and an injury update on 2012 ‘Riders reliever Wilmer Font.
Anthony Andro (Fox Sports Southwest) also recaps Darvish’s performance, with the Japanese right-hander getting a good crack about Andrus’ defensive miscue. Matt Mosely wonders if Hamilton is crazy like a fox for making his DFW “baseball town” comments.
Finally, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com explores Matt Harrison’s roots on Tobacco Road in the small town of Creedmoor, North Carolina.
The provisional rosters for the teams competing in the World Baseball Classic were recently announced and the RoughRiders will be well-represented in the third iteration of this relatively new showcase event. Of course, there may be some players added on or taken off before the tournament starts on March 2, but a quick scan of each squad’s roster reveals 15 players who at one point wore a RoughRiders uniform. Not including big league rehabbers, that number is 11. Here’s the full list of players who once plied their trade at Dr Pepper Ballpark that will soon be seeking baseball’s greatest international achievement:
United States of America
RHP R.A. Dickey (rehabbed with the ’Riders in 2004, making four starts)
LHP Derek Holland (made four starts during 2008 season, his last as a minor leaguer)
1B Mark Teixeira (rehabbed in 2004 & 2007 for two total games)
OF Tim Smith (played 36 games in 2009)
OF Nelson Cruz (rehabbed in 2010 & 2011 for six total games)
RHP Pedro Strop (made 36 relief appearances in 2009)
RHP Edinson Volquez (started 10 games in 2005 & 11 games in 2007)
RHP Jason Grilli (made a one-inning rehab start in 2009)
1B Adrian Gonzalez (played 45 games in 2003)
IF/OF Edgar Gonzalez (played 106 games in 2004)
RHP Luis Mendoza (pitched in 27 games – 26 starts – in 2007 & 2008)
SS Jurickson Profar (played 126 games in 2012)
OF Engel Beltre (played 302 games between 2009 & 2012)
C Salomon Manriquez (played 71 games in 2007)
SS Elvis Andrus (played 118 games in 2008)
As a bonus entry, LHP Richard Bleier (a RoughRider from 2010 – 2012) pitched for Team Israel in last fall’s WBC qualifying tournament. Israel lost to Spain in the Jupiter, Florida qualifier, failing to gain entry into the main event.