Results tagged ‘ Jurickson Profar ’

The Dandy Dozen: The ‘Riders Turn 12

It's shaping up to be another great summer at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

It’s shaping up to be another great summer at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

This article originally appeared in the March 21 edition of SportsPage Weekly, which is a free publication available throughout the Metroplex.  To view the article in the online edition, click here.

There are very few “sure things” in life, but when it comes to local sports and entertainment options, the Frisco RoughRiders are just about as close to a sure thing as you can get.  Year after year, Dr Pepper Ballpark hosts exciting baseball action, premium prospects and fun for the whole family.  Ask anyone who has ever been to a RoughRiders game and they’ll tell you how memorable the experience is.

It’s almost hard to believe, but the RoughRiders will soon begin their 12th season on April 3 at home against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals affiliate).  In honor of a dozen years of Frisco baseball, we present the top 12 reasons to catch the RoughRiders in action this season at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

#12 – A winning tradition

Everybody loves a winner.   And over the past decade the RoughRiders have been one of the most consistent winners in Minor League Baseball.  In 2013, Frisco finished with a 70-70 record, its eighth consecutive season with a .500 or better mark on the ledger.  The last time Frisco finished with a losing record was the only time in team history: back in 2005, when the team finished 58-82.  The streak of non-losing seasons is by far the longest in the Texas League; every other team in the circuit has had at least one losing season in the last three years.  The streak is the longest in Double-A and the third-longest among all 120 full-season minor league clubs, exceeded only by the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats (11 straight non-losing seasons) and the Advanced-A San Jose Giants (ten).  Including teams that play in short-season leagues, Frisco’s streak is the sixth longest; the Elizabethton Twins (25), Brooklyn Cyclones (13) and AZL Giants (13) have the longest such streaks in stateside Minor League Baseball.

#11 – History in the making

Baseball fans appreciate the sport’s history and tradition, and the Texas League plays an important role in the lineage of the game. The RoughRiders and their fans belong to a storied Texas League pedigree that dates back to 1888 (the American League was founded in 1901). A game at Dr Pepper Ballpark is more than just a chance to contribute to baseball’s history; it affords fans the opportunity to witness history as it happens. Notable Texas League alumni span the generations and include Major League Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Dizzy Dean, Joe Morgan and Whitey Herzog. It is a legacy furthered by many stars in the game today who also enjoyed success in the Texas League. Current Rangers Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus had All-Star seasons in the Texas League in 2004 and 2008, respectively. Outside the organization, an impressive crop of recent alumni continue to cultivate the Texas League brand as their big league careers flourish. The Texas League footprint extends across the Major League map and features young stars Mike Trout, Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, Lance Lynn, Jean Segura and numerous others.

#10 – Rehabbing Rangers

Matt Harrison was one of 13 rehabbers who played with the 'Riders in 2013.

Matt Harrison was one of 13 rehabbers who played with the ‘Riders in 2013.

Players, coaches and fans dislike injuries, but they remain an inevitable component of any professional game. For a major league club, the inconvenience of an in-season malady is lessened—somewhat—when an affiliate team plays in the neighborhood. No one in Frisco hopes for a rehab assignment, but when a Rangers’ regular tweaks a calf or strains a wrist, Dr Pepper Ballpark provides a two-fold benefit for both the player and the fan. Players can stay in the Metroplex to nurse an injury and play in an atmosphere that approximates a big league ballgame. On the other hand, fans receive a unique opportunity to view their favorite Rangers in a more intimate setting and at an affordable cost. A total of 13 Rangers players donned a RoughRiders’ cap for a rehab assignment in 2013, including pitcher Matt Harrison, who unfortunately started as many games for Frisco (two) as he did for Texas. Rehab assignments rarely occur with much forewarning, but thanks to Derek Holland’s dog, Wrigley, the southpaw has likely already booked a stint with the RoughRiders in 2014. Make sure you’re in the stands when the Rangers’ rehabbers visit Dr Pepper Ballpark.

#9 – A new skipper

For the first time in five years, someone other than Steve Buechele will write out Frisco’s lineup card.  With Buechele managing the Rangers’ Triple-A club this season, Jason Wood steps into the role for the RoughRiders in 2014.  Wood, a five-year major leaguer and veteran of 18 professional seasons as a player, will begin his fourth season as a manager in the Texas farm system.  The 44-year-old spent the previous three years as the skipper for Advanced-A Myrtle Beach.  He led the Pelicans to the playoffs in all three campaigns and looks to get the ’Riders back to the postseason this year.  While Wood is a fresh face in the dugout, the rest of his coaching staff will remain in place from the last two seasons.  Jeff Andrews returns as the team’s pitching coach following a season in which Frisco’s hurlers collectively set numerous team records.  This past offseason, Andrews was honored the co-recipient of the Rangers’ annual Bobby Jones Player Development Man of the Year award.  Jason Hart will begin his third season as Frisco’s hitting coach and his instruction has been lauded for helping former RoughRiders Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, Leury Garcia, Chris McGuiness and Engel Beltre all reach the major leagues over the past two seasons.

#8 – Affordability

One of the charms of Minor League Baseball is getting a big league experience without paying a premium price.  RoughRiders games are no different because the team strives to make sure everyone can afford to watch games at Dr Pepper Ballpark.  It can be a major strain on the wallet to attend other professional sporting events.  The average cost for a family of four to attend a Major League Baseball game is approximately $208; for an NFL game that number is $444, with the NBA checking in at $442 and the NHL at $355.  That figure for a Minor League Baseball game?  Just $61.  With RoughRiders tickets starting at just $7 (less than the cost of a movie theater ticket), attending a game at Dr Pepper Ballpark is very much accessible.  But say you’re interested in getting even more value at the ballpark.  The RoughRiders offer affordable ticket plans that include all-you-can-eat food and drink, and even packages that include alcohol.  These value-based ticket plans make attending games in Frisco possible without denting your bank account.

#7 – The other guys aren’t too shabby either

Tomorrow’s stars play today in the Texas League and 2014 is no exception. The RoughRiders will welcome a host of talent from around the circuit to Dr Pepper Ballpark this season, many of whom are ranked on the MLB.com Top 100 Prospects list. The Tulsa Drillers figure to field a strong pitching rotation bolstered by top 50 prospects Jon Gray (#14) and Eddie Butler (#41). Both pitchers bring high-octane velocity to the Drillers’ staff and can touch the upper 90s on the radar gun. Catcher Austin Hedges (#24) of the San Antonio Missions is rated as the second-highest prospect at his position by MLB.com. His strong arm and good footwork behind the plate will give would-be base stealers second thoughts. Kyle Zimmer (#25), the number five overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft, is expected to start the season with the Northwest Arkansas. The Royals promoted Zimmer to Double-A late last season where he held a 1.93 ERA through four starts with the Naturals. Position players to watch for elsewhere in the Texas League include speedy leadoff hitter Delino DeShields (#66) of the Corpus Christi Hooks, Jorge Bonifacio (#91) of the Naturals and gifted batter Stephen Piscotty (#98) of the Springfield Cardinals. Every mentioned player has big league potential.

#6 – You won’t be the only one cheering

The vocal and expressive fan will find a home at Dr Pepper Ballpark. For nine consecutive seasons, the RoughRiders have led all 30 Double-A teams in total and average attendance. More than half-a-million fans routinely fill Dr Pepper Ballpark every season and the team averages better than 7,000 fans per game.  Not only is that the best in Double-A, but it’s also higher than 17 Triple-A teams! On 21 occasions in 2013, the ’Riders drew crowds of more than 10,000. Frisco’s fan base is second to none and players say the crowds enhance the in-game environment more than anywhere else in the Texas League. Bring a sign, be loud and shout until your voice goes out. You won’t be cheering alone.

#5 – More than just peanuts and Cracker Jack

RoughRiders cuisine far outstrips traditional ballpark fare. Sure, fans can still fill up to the gills on foot-long hot dogs and brats from Smokie’s Sausage Shack, but Dr Pepper Ballpark serves something for any palate. The new Beer & Barbeque stand will cook in-house, smoked Texas barbeque favorites while Lone Star Pizza offers a wide range of personal style pies. Deep-fried Oreos grace the à la carte lineup for the first time this season, and for those in search of a healthy option, Greek yogurt is also available. Of course, many Frisco fan favorites will be back on the menu as well, from fresh-spun cotton candy and funnel cakes to snow cones and freshly squeezed lemonade. Of course, few things taste better on a hot Texas night than a cold serving of Dippin’ Dots. It’s never summer without great food, great drinks and RoughRiders baseball.

Luke Jackson figures to lead a very talented starting rotation this season.

Luke Jackson figures to lead a very talented starting rotation this season.

#4 – An arsenal of arms

For the best pitching this side of Yu Darvish and Arlington, Dr Pepper Ballpark is the place to be. The RoughRiders will rely on their mound men to bolster the franchise’s quest for an eighth playoff berth. Right-hander Luke Jackson is expected to lead the group in 2014. The fireballer started the previous season with Advanced-A Myrtle Beach and made his RoughRiders’ debut on August 4, 2013. He didn’t miss a beat in Double-A and finished the season with 134 combined strikeouts at both Myrtle Beach and Frisco and held the eighth-lowest ERA among all full season minor league pitchers (2.04). Those numbers were a big reason why the Rangers named Jackson the club’s 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Alex Claudio figures to take the reins from Jackson and the starters as a key piece in the RoughRiders’ bullpen in 2014. The deceptive Claudio fools batters with his changeup and was named the Rangers’ Minor League Reliever of the Year last season. Another burgeoning prospect, Alex Gonzalez, hopes to excite the Frisco faithful this year. Don’t call him Alex, though. Gonzalez prefers the nickname “Chi Chi,” given by a family member. Baseball America rates the 2013 first round draft pick as the number six prospect in the Rangers’ organization. Fans on the wild side will anticipate the return of eight-year veteran Kevin Pucetas as he unleashes his newly developed knuckleball pitch on the diamond this season. Other highly-ranked pitchers that are expected to see time in Frisco this season include Alec Asher, Nick Martinez and Jerad Eickhoff.

#3 – Rougned Odor

Top prospect Rougned Odor is expected to begin the season at second base in Frisco.

Top prospect Rougned Odor is expected to begin the season at second base in Frisco.

Because the makeup of minor league teams are up to the discretion of the parent club, you never know who will be on the Opening Day roster until very late in spring training.  That is typically the case with the RoughRiders, but one player who looks very likely to be with the team on April 3 is second baseman Rougned Odor.  The Venezuelan with the memorable name is the Rangers’ top-ranked prospect according to Baseball America and he showed why during a 30-game stint with Frisco at the end of the 2013 season.  Odor was promoted to Double-A in early August and hit .306/.354/.530 with six home runs, eight doubles, two triples and 19 RBI.  And he did all of that as just a 19-year-old, the youngest player in Double-A.  (Projecting those numbers out over a 140-game season, he would have hit 28 homers with 37 doubles, nine triples and 89 RBI.) Now 20, Odor spent the first half of spring training in big league camp and hopes to use that experience to further propel his ascension to the major leagues.  For the time being, however, the spunky infielder with the big bat is expected to ply his trade at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

#2 – Family-friendly entertainment

The RoughRiders are well-known for making trips to Dr Pepper Ballpark about more than just the game on the field.  The atmosphere on game nights is a blast, even for folks who aren’t big baseball fans.  The RoughRiders employ a full-time entertainment director whose sole job is to make sure that families have fun when visiting the ballpark.  From spectacular fireworks shows following every Friday night home game to a collection of more than 180 hilarious on-field skits and promotions that rotate throughout the season, there is something fun for everyone who comes to a game.  Dr Pepper Ballpark even features a pool in right field and two playgrounds (including one specifically designed for two-to-five-year-olds).  And for a lot of fans, their favorite RoughRiders aren’t ones you might see in Arlington someday – they are Deuce and Daisy, the team’s loveable mascots.

#1 – The home of future Rangers

With Odor and a tremendous pitching staff leading the way, there should be another impressive assortment of talent on display at Dr Pepper Ballpark this season.  This has been the norm in each of the RoughRiders’ first 11 seasons in Frisco, and with the Rangers’ relentless pursuit of building a winning organization from top-to-bottom, don’t look for that trend to change anytime soon.  Since 2003, 107 former RoughRiders have reached the major leagues, almost one-third of all Frisco players.  In 2013, ten former ’Riders made the big leagues, including Nick Tepesch, Beltre, Garcia and McGuiness.  One look at the Rangers’ 40-man roster shows that half of its members played in Frisco.  Elvis Andrus, Harrison, Alexi Ogando, Holland, Leonys Martin, Profar, Neftali Feliz, Mitch Moreland, Tanner Scheppers and Martin Perez are just a few of the Texas stalwarts who once wore a RoughRiders uniform.  Outside of the Rangers organization, All-Stars such as Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis, Adrian Gonzalez and C.J. Wilson all spent time in Frisco as well.

***

With the RoughRiders, fans get winning baseball, exciting prospects, delicious food, affordable family fun and the future of the Texas Rangers on display.  It all shows that the Frisco RoughRiders continue to be a sure thing for families and sports fans across the Metroplex.

Russell Wilson: A worthwhile gimmick for Rangers

Image

Whether it’s a football or a baseball, Russell Wilson shows good form on his throws. (photo credit to Louis DeLuca/Dallas Morning News)

This story appears in the March 7 edition of Sports Page Weekly, which is a free publication available in the Metroplex.

During the early portion of spring training for the Texas Rangers, much of the focus has been on a young second baseman who burst onto the pro sports scene in August 2012.  He impressed observers with his skill and a cool sense of confidence which was uncanny for someone so young.  His notability and importance have only grown because of recent events.  Come late February, the Rangers, as well as fans, were wondering when they’d finally see him take to the field out in Surprise.

No, this discussion does not concern Jurickson Profar and his balky right shoulder.  The above also applies to newly minted Super Bowl champion quarterback Russell Wilson. 

Last December, the Rangers plucked Wilson, better known for his stellar work on the gridiron and whose pro baseball career had been on hiatus since 2011, from the Colorado Rockies in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft.  The cost to formally acquire the baseball rights of the undersized signal caller? A mere $12,000, roughly the same amount of signing bonus money a team might allot toward a late round draft pick in June.

Throughout the off-season, we’ve read numerous stories about how the Rangers drafting Russell Wilson was not a gimmick.  Let’s be clear: this whole episode has been a complete gimmick.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word “gimmick” with the following description: a method or trick that is used to get people’s attention or to sell something. 

Enter the Rangers and Wilson.  On March 3rd, the team held a “Russell Wilson Day” of sorts.  The Seattle Seahawks quarterback traveled to Surprise, worked out with the team, fielded ground balls, took in the spring game against Cleveland (a 6-4 Rangers loss) and gave a speech to players within the organization.  And, yes, Texas has begun selling Rangers jerseys with “3” and “Wilson” on the back, as well as other Wilson-themed merchandise. (I’m sure Frisco RoughRiders shortstop Luis Sardinas, whose jersey number is 3 on the Rangers’ 40-man roster, gave Wilson his blessing to temporarily use the number.  Maybe Wilson even persuaded him with financial incentives.)

Now, no one inside or outside the Rangers organization expects Wilson to trade in his facemask and shoulder pads for a glove and some pine tar on a full-time or even part time basis.  This was a singular opportunity to stage a cool photo-op, grab some friendly headlines and sell some Rangers gear.  In other words, it was a gimmick.  For his part, Wilson seems to sincerely enjoy baseball and his respect for those within the game is evident.  But other than throwing out the first pitch sometime this summer, he’s not suiting up on a diamond again anytime soon (unless he somehow transforms into some sort of Anthony Wright clone).  The Rangers knew this when they took him off the Rockies’ hands a few months ago.

But the fact that drafting Russell Wilson and having him spend a day at spring training was a gimmick does not necessarily make it a bad thing.  I realize there’s a negative connotation with the word, but gimmicks can have positive value, as this one does.

First of all, the Rangers should be commended for recognizing and seizing a terrific promotional opportunity and making the most of it in a pseudo-organic way (at least compared with, for example, the Red Sox’ explicit marketing deal with Johnny Manziel, which brought the former Aggie to Fort Myers for a day, wearing a #2 Boston jersey to boot).  Additionally, it has brought a bevy of positive attention to a club coming off a mildly disappointing season, fans are buzzing over their team’s connection with the best young quarterback in the NFL (go ahead, compare his numbers with Andrew Luck and tell me who comes out on top) and it allowed the players in the clubhouse to bask in the glow of a bona fide champion.

And therein lies a big reason why the Rangers want to be so closely associated with a second baseman who owns a career .229 batting average in 93 professional baseball games (all below the Advanced-A level).  As this organization strives to maintain a team that consistently competes for championships, the hope is that through osmosis this group can absorb as many positive attributes as it can from winners like Wilson.  Especially ones who are young enough for current professional athletes to relate to.  That sort of thing can potentially go a long way toward developing a team’s culture and identity. 

If Adrian Beltre is lifting the Commissioner’s Trophy high above his head come October, I’m not sure he’ll be pointing back to March 3rd and Wilson’s spring training visit as a big reason why, but it could be an intangible piece of the foundation that makes up this team’s season.  Intangibles are immeasurable by definition.  But in this case for the Rangers, it cost $12,000.

Yes, drafting Russell Wilson and bringing him to spring training was a gimmick.  A gimmick that may already be worth the gambit.

 

 - Alex

The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide…: Part Two – The Players

This post is a continuation of an earlier post compiling the essential Twitter handles to keep up with the Texas Rangers farm system and Texas League. You can find all entries here

A little over a week ago, I posted twitter handles for the teams in the Texas Rangers system and the Texas league, along with broadcasters and other key employees in the league and the Rangers’ farm. Today, I submit Part Two of “The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide to the Frisco RoughRiders, the Texas League and the Rangers Farm System,” or TNCTG. If you want to check Part One – go here.

Today: a list of the players. This is, to my knowledge, an exhaustive list of the Frisco RoughRiders in addition to as many twitter handles I could find of Texas Rangers at the MLB and MiLB levels. As always, comment below or tweet me (@NathanSBarnett) with additional follows. I will update this as I can as the season moves along. If you want to use a list to keep track of these players, the RoughRiders Twitter handle has a 2013 RoughRiders list and I have one compiling as many current Rangers MLB and MiLB players that I can find.

_________________________

TNCTG PART TWO – The Players

(as of 05/17/13)

2013 Frisco RoughRiders

Current RoughRiders:

Hanser Alberto ‏ @elpotroalberto (#15 ranked prospect in Texas system by Baseball America)

Cody Buckel ‏  @Cheatcode07 (#8)

Randy Henry ‏ @RandyHenry51 (#29)

Odubel Herrera ‏ @odubelherrera1frisco roughriders logo

Jared Hoying ‏ @jhoying3035

Teodoro Martinez ‏ @martinezteo

Brett Nicholas ‏ @bnicholas15

Kevin Pucetas ‏ @KPucetas

Jimmy Reyes ‏ @jimmymreyes

Ryan Rodebaugh ‏ @RRodey

Ben Rowen ‏ @B_Rowen

Ryan Strausborger ‏ @Ryan_Straus

Zach Zaneski ‏ @ZZaneski

RoughRiders to play in 2013, now off roster:

Jake Brigham ‏ @jbrigham49 (Triple-A)

Ross Wolf ‏ @18RGW (Triple-A)

Other players in the Texas Rangers System:

MLB:

Elvis Andrus ‏ @ElvisandrusSS1

Nelson Cruz ‏ @ncboomstick17

ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) ‏ @faridyu

Neftali Feliz ‏ @NefFeliz

Josh Frasier ‏ @Frasier66 (bullpen catcher)

Leury Garcia ‏ @leurygarcia1 (#20)

Justin Grimm ‏ @GrimmReaper51 (#5)

Derek Holland ‏ @Dutch_Oven45texas_rangers-9679

Michael Kirkman ‏ @MikeKirkman50

Josh Lindblom  @JoshLindblom52 

Leonys Martin ‏ @leonys27martin (#4)

Joe Nathan ‏ @JoeNathan36

Martin Perez ‏ @MartinPerez33D (#3)

Jurickson Profar ‏ @JURICKSONPROFAR (#1 ranked prospect overall by Baseball America)

Robbie Ross ‏ @Ross_108

Joakim Soria ‏ @joakimsoria

Triple-A Round Rock:

Chad Bell ‏ @ChadBell19 (Injured just before beginning of the season, finished 2012 with Express)

Engel Beltre ‏ @engelbeltre07

Lisalverto Bonilla ‏ @propecto1

Jake Brigham ‏ @jbrigham49

Robinson Chirinos  @robinson28chrr_express_logo_detail

Michael Olt ‏ @molt2222 (#2)

Yangervis Solarte ‏ @yanyi26_12

Yoshinori Tateyama ‏ @tatetatetateyan

Ross Wolf ‏ @RGW

Advanced-A Myrtle Beach:

Alec Asher ‏ @Ash_Tag24

Kellin Deglan ‏ @keldegs

Royce Bolinger ‏ @roycebolinger

Zach Cone ‏ @ZachCone (#24)

Ryan Harvey ‏ @Hammer32jetlifepelicans

Luke Jackson ‏ @YaBoy77 (#6)

Will Lamb ‏ @LamboLeap30

Nick Martinez ‏ @nickmartinez10 (#27)

Rougned Odor ‏ @RougnedOdor (#11)

Drew Robinson ‏ @drewrobinsonnn

Jake Skole ‏ @JakeSkole15

Joe Van Meter ‏ @JVanMeter28

Class-A Hickory Crawdads:

Jorge Alfaro ‏ @_JorgeAlfaro11 (#9)

Ryan Bores ‏ @RyanBores

Lewis Brinson ‏ @LewisBrinson (#12)

Eric Brooks ‏ @itsEricBrooks

Coby Cowgill ‏ @CobyCowgill_RHP

C.J. Edwards ‏ @CEdwardsSBS (#14)

Joey Gallo ‏ @JoeyGallo24 (#10)

David Lyon ‏ @DLyonKSU36Hickory_Crawdads

Joe Maloney ‏ @JoeBoMalones

Nomar Mazara ‏ @NomarMzra26 (#16)

Luis Mendez ‏ @mendezluis932

Ryan Rua ‏ @Rua_Numba_2

Connor Sadzeck ‏ @connorsadzeck

Ryne Slack ‏ @Slack28

Nick Vickerson ‏ @Nick_Vickerson

Nick Williams ‏ @NW1superstar (#25)

Players yet to be assigned (either hurt or will be in either Rookie or Short-Season A)

Jairo Beras ‏ @jairoberas (#18)

Janluis Castro ‏ @Jaanluis

Guy Edmonds ‏ @EdmondsGuy

Brandon Garcia ‏ @BrandonGarcia_

Ronald Guzman ‏ @_ronaldguzman (#17)

Jamie Jarmon ‏ @jjarmon34

Kevin Matthews ‏ @kevmat1

Barrett Serrato ‏ @bserrato23

Nick Urbanus ‏ @NickUrb

Brett Weibley ‏ @wild_stallion5

Collin Wiles ‏ @cwiles11

_________________________

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: fuzzy concreteartificial turf

Welcome Home

The rain has stopped, the clouds have parted, and Rangers baseball is back in Arlington!   Many people will call in sick from work, pull their kids out early from school, and make the drive to the ballpark to welcome our Rangers back home for the 2013 season.  Opening Day is finally here as the Rangers face the LA Angels this afternoon at 1:05.

Ballpark

Today also marks Josh Hamilton’s first return to Rangers Ballpark since leaving for LA.  This return has sparked a number of reactions by Rangers fans, especially after remarks made by Hamilton questioning the loyalty of DFW baseball fans.

I am personally on the edge of my seat waiting to know how Josh will be received at today’s game.  Will the stadium erupt in boos?  Will there be cheers for the once-adored All-Star?  Or will he receive the silent treatment, getting little acknowledgement from the fans of his former team?

More than likely, there will be a combination of all three.  There are a number of fans who feel Hamilton leaving the Rangers and the way he left was a betrayal, and boos will be heard throughout the stadium.  Others will try to look past the hurt feelings and the tension, and cheer.  However, the hope for many is that there will be silence, no boos or cheers, proving Rangers fans stand strongly behind their team and can move past the tensions from the last few months.

Hamilton

Regardless of how Hamilton’s reception plays out, the fact is today is the Rangers Home Opener.  The day Rangers fans have been looking forward to is finally here.  Enjoy it and look forward to many enjoyable days and nights at the ballpark!

 Other notes from the week:

-The Rangers began the season this past Sunday on the road in Houston.  Despite dropping the first game of the series 2-8 in the Astros’ first game in the American League, the Rangers came back to win the series in back-to-back shutouts.

Yu Darvish was one strike away from pitching a perfect game in Game 2, tallying a career-high 14 strikeouts.  Former RoughRider Alexi Ogando also had a career-high 10 strikeouts in Game 3. In total, the Rangers had 43 strikeouts, the most by a major-league team in the first three games of the season, breaking the mark set by the 1966 Cleveland Indians.

-Elvis Andrus is in Texas for a while.  The 24-year-old shortstop announced Thursday that he signed an eight-year contract extension, securing him at least through 2018 (he has an opt-out in his contract at that point).

Where was Nolan Ryan?  At Thursday’s press conference announcing Andrus’ contract extension, Ryan was noticeably absent.  This only fueled the curiosities of his future with the Rangers.  It was reported later that Nolan attended the Round Rock Express season opener.

What does the future hold for Jurickson Profar?  With the Elvis Andrus contract extension, the future for Rangers’ top prospect Profar is up in the air.  The former RoughRider, will be in Round Rock this season, but playing the same position as Andrus brings questions regarding the 20-year-old’s future.

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Parachute Hitter – another term for a singles hitter

One month away…

Nights like this will be back again in one month. (Photo credit to Alex Yocum-Beeman)

Nights like this will be back again in one month. (Photo credit to Alex Yocum-Beeman)

Today is a day for minor celebration, not necessarily because it’s “311 Day,” but because we are now exactly one month away from the home opener for the 2013 season at Dr Pepper Ballpark.  We are also 22 days from the RoughRiders-Express exhibition game in Frisco and 24 days away from the official start of the regular season in North Little Rock.

All of the Rangers’ minor leaguers (excluding the ones who had big league camp invitations) reported to Surprise one week ago and they will begin their spring training games against other organizations on Thursday.  We’ll do our best to get you whatever information we can on those games, though the Double-A team that takes the field against their Royals counterparts on Thursday is guaranteed to look much different than the one that arrives here in the Metroplex come late March.  That’s mainly because off all the roster mixing that goes on in the spring, with many players playing a level higher than they will ultimately be on once the season starts.

As for the big club, we are still not at a point of complete resolution with the Nolan Ryan situation, though it looks like we are moving closer to that point.  The Rangers released a statement from him yesterday that basically said he’s been meeting with ownership about his role with the team and that those discussions will continue.  It’s not much to read into, but I suppose it should be taken as a positive sign that there is a chance that they work this all out and come out a happy family once again.

In other developments, Craig Gentry of all people is hitting home runs, Jurickson Profar’s stint as starting spring training shortstop (I love alliterative phrases) is likely coming to an end as Elvis Andrus’ stay at the World Baseball Classic was a short one, and Derek Holland gets more time to play on the “big” stage.

Ryan will remain CEO for time being, continue to search for understanding of role - Evan Grant gives you the basics of yesterday’s developments with Ryan’s full statement included.

More time on WBC’s big stage can only help Rangers’ “wildcard” Derek Holland (subscribers only)Tim Cowlishaw thinks the continuing experience for Holland on the US team will be good for him.

Josh Hamilton brought sizzle to Texas, but new Ranger Lance Berkman could offer just as much substanceHighlights from Cowlishaw’s Sunday column on why there might not be so large a dropoff between Hamilton and Berkman.  (A major caveat should be added – IF Lance stays healthy.)

Gerry Fraley bits on emerging slugger Craig Gentry, Elvis Andrus taking some ribbing, a sleeper from the Michael Young trade, and Adrian Beltre re-thinking the WBC.

(Daily FWST disclaimer: most articles on their site are subscription-only, but you can easily read the articles around the sign-in pop-up)

Positive spin on Ryan staying takes another negative turnRandy Galloway (who has practically been the writer-of-record on all things Nolan Ryan) says that, in spite of yesterday’s statement, Ryan staying on with the Rangers is no sure thing at all.

Long journey may lead Rangers’ Martin to center fieldFrom a couple of days ago, but a good read from Gil Lebreton nonetheless about Leonys Martin.

Despite Ross’ struggles, Rangers hold on for 7-6 victory over IndiansRobbie Ross says he was not distracted by the ZOOperstars, who performed at yesterday’s game in Goodyear.  Thank goodness for that.

Ross struggles for first time this springESPNDallas.com’s Ron Matejko has more reaction from Ross on his tough start (2.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 4 BB).

Is there still time to get Nolan Ryan to stay? - Richard Durrett gives his thoughts on the latest developments with Ryan.

Tepesch still auditioning for roleRon Washington and Mike Maddux talk about 2012 RoughRiders pitcher Nick Tepesch and his odds on winning the fifth spot in the Rangers’ rotation.

- Alex

When a day off isn’t really a day off

Pitching for Team USA, Derek Holland allowed a run over three innings yesterday in an exhibition game against the White Sox. (Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

Pitching for Team USA, Derek Holland allowed a run over three innings yesterday in an exhibition game against the White Sox. (Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

There was no game for the Rangers yesterday but of course that does not mean things were slow in terms of news developments.  The big story continues to be the Nolan Ryan situation and we can expect things to remain that way until the big man speaks publicly on the matter.  So far, he has shown little interest in doing that for reasons only he knows.

I think I speak for most fans when I say that I hope that this reaches a conclusion that keeps Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels’ top lieutenants with the organization.  That might be a pie-in-the-sky hope, but it’s no crime to dream of a happy ending in this case.  Sometimes, however, the band does end up breaking up.  It happened to the Beatles and it can happen here.

In my opinion, what the Rangers would like to avoid experiencing is what happened the Red Sox front office over the final years of the Theo Epstein era.  Epstein is a bit like Daniels in how he rose through the game to become a big league general manager.  Like Daniels, Epstein had a group of extremely talented people around him who eventually outgrew their roles (i.e., the Red Sox could not afford them or give ran out of ways to promote them) and moved on to other organizations.  Think of Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod as examples.  Their departures diluted the talent pool of the front office and as a result, the Red Sox stumbled through some mediocre drafts and disastrous free agency signings, leading to three straight seasons ending with no postseason in Boston.  Maybe voices like Hoyer and McLeod, had they been a part of those decisions, could have asked questions that weren’t being asked or proposed different solutions.

The Rangers ownership wants to make sure the Thad Levines and A.J. Prellers of the organization stay put to keep Daniels’ “dream team” of assistants together.  Daniels’ promotion to president clears the way for some future upward movement in the front office, making it more likely that the band stays together for a little longer and the Rangers continue their run of recent success.

So where does that leave Nolan Ryan?  We don’t really know, though there is plenty of speculation.  My belief is that we won’t know until Nolan himself determines how he would like to see this play out.  Until then, let’s hope this iteration of the Beatles keeps on rocking together.

On the subject of who has the power in the Rangers’ organizationEvan Grant says that nothing much will change with the organization despite the title changes.

Daniels on Nolan Ryan: ‘I don’t want him to leave’Some quotes from the Rangers’ GM/president, who was on ESPN Radio 103.3 yesterday.

If the always-sensible Nolan Ryan wants to win, it’s Texas Rangers or bustHighlights from Kevin Sherrington’s DMN column.

Daniels had ‘good conversation’ with Ryan over the weekend, says there’s ‘no issue’ between the twoMore Daniels quotes from another radio interview, this time with KRLD.

Why Rangers haven’t made move for Lohse, othersDaniels also took some time yesterday to touch on the potential acquisition of a new starting pitcher.

Team USA gets strong debut from HollandThere was a Ranger in action yesterday, as Derek Holland threw three innings for Team USA in a WBC tuneup vs. the White Sox.

Rangers’ top prospects can benefit from WBC absencesJeff Wilson has Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar looking to take advantage of their extended playing time with the big club while the WBC is in progress.

Rangers don’t need to panic and press the No. 5 buttonGil Lebreton says Texas can afford to be patient in finding a fifth starter.

Harrison hopes offseason pays off in ’13Matt Harrison says he’s not content with coasting off his first all-star season despite earning a big contract, writes Anthony Andro.

Inbox: Could injuries bring Lohse into picture?T.R. Sullivan answers fan questions in this week’s mailbag column.

- Alex

Elvis’ ink gives Profar a chance to shine

The detailed tattoo that kept Elvis Andrus out of the lineup yesterday.

The detailed tattoo that kept Elvis Andrus out of the lineup yesterday.

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 tattooA.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-batCassavell 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 debutMore on Berkman, from Ron Matejko of ESPNDallas.com.

Holland leaves for WBC on high noteThe Rangers lefty tossed four scoreless innings yesterday against Cleveland and now leaves to pitch for Team USA at the World Baseball Classic.

Gerry Fraley on Mike Olt in the outfield, a new addition that won’t play but will be useful for the Rangers, and Lance Berkman

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.

- Alex

Rangers Spring Training Links – 2/25/2013

Martin Perez makes his first start of the spring against the Rockies today as he tries to secure a spot in the Rangers' rotation.

Martin Perez makes his first start of the spring against the Rockies today as he tries to secure a spot in the Rangers’ rotation.

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 spotFormer 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 conditionsSullivan writes that Matt Harrison’s first spring outing was a little ragged in less-than-ideal weather.

Tepesch impresses in spring debut vs. hometown teamWhile 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 debutESPNDallas.com’s Ron Matejko has more on Tepesch’s outing yesterday.

McClellan suffers setbackMatejko 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 bluesGrant runs down the essentials from yesterday’s 7-5 loss to KC.

Rangers conflicted by Profar’s talent, Andrus’ primeThe 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’ BerkmanDave Magadan’s not the only new hitting coach for Texas, writes Jeff Wilson.

Kyle McClellan still slowed by back sorenessDrew Davison has the Star-Telegram’s notebook with Justin Grimm reminiscing about his stint with the big club last season.

- Alex

Rangers Spring Training Links – 2/22/2013

The view from above of the Rangers' and Royals' complex in Surprise, Arizona.

The view from above of the Rangers’ and Royals’ complex in Surprise, Arizona.

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 officeThe 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 trainingJeff 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 RangersThe 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.

Jon Daniels on Profar and PayrollThe Rangers GM held a chat yesterday and The Dallas Morning News is providing some of the highlights.

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 assistantT.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?

- Alex

Rangers Spring Training Links – 2/20/2013

Before the season, most knew that Jurickson Profar would one day reach the big leagues.  Few expected it to happen in 2012 as a 19-year-old. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

Jurickson Profar is already more accomplished than most 20-year-olds. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

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.

- Alex

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 56 other followers