Results tagged ‘ Ron Washington ’
This week I’m taking in my first visit to Surprise, Arizona for Rangers Spring Training, and I’m bringing you with me. If you missed the recap of Day One of my trip, check it out right here.
From what I can gather, you go through a few different phases during Spring Training as a player,coach and executive.
1. There’s the initial burst of excitement over getting back to a baseball field and rediscovering your passion for the game you love. This period is great – until you grow weary of the numerous of meetings, practices, simulated situations and other minutia that, while important, is not why anyone signed up to be a part of this game. All during this time, you’re chomping at the bit to start playing something that at least resembles a game.
2. You eventually do move into this phase, but they’re not real games (granted, Spring Training games are not really like real games, but at least it’s somewhat close); they’re more like scrimmages that you play against the same people you’ve been practicing against for the last week or two.
3. Just when you get to the point where you’re mentally over the idea of facing the same opponent day after day, you start games against other organizations, which is a major refresher for the mind.
4. Then, you just get sick and tired of being in Arizona for up to two months and playing the role of “human sunny-side up egg” in the roasting desert sun. You want to get the season underway and start playing games that count (with real stats too).
The big leaguers are in the midst of Phase 3, while the minor leaguers have just gotten to Phase 2, which I watched begin in earnest on Monday morning at the Rangers’ Spring Training complex in Surprise. Along the way, I witnessed the start of a comeback, a rebirth, the long-term future and the bizarre before finishing the day with a Hall of Famer.
7:45 a.m. – As I alluded to at the end of yesterday’s post, I was not going to play the role of fool two days in a row (at least in this specific respect) and get microwaved by the southwest sun once again. Upon the recommendation of the helpful hotel lobby person, I headed over the nearby “99 ¢ Only Store” (because dollar stores are considered too bourgeoisie here) to purchase some sunscreen. Now, I was just as suspicious as you probably are reading this about buying 99-cent sunscreen. “Wouldn’t splashing a layer of water on your skin be at least equally effective?” Yeah, that ran through my head, but my faith in “Hypoderm Sunscreen” (Note to anyone who thought, “Why didn’t I think of an amazing name like that?”: it’s not a registered trademark, apparently) was rewarded. My burns from Sunday were reasonably contained and my skin did not start falling off at any point. And I feel like a true bargain hunter after spotting this attempt on eBay to charge some poor sap $12.99+shipping for three of these babies. The whole episode felt a little like hitting a three-point bank shot that you didn’t call.
8:15 a.m. – Things are still fairly quiet by the time I reach the complex, probably due to the fact that fans won’t be let into the facility until 10 a.m. There are a few hitters getting some early work in and some of the big leaguers are trickling in for the day. The Rangers clubhouse is divided into two sides: one for the major leaguers and one for the minor leaguers. The minor league clubhouse is a lot bigger, but more crowded because there are so many more players in that camp. I am a bit surprised at how nice the minor league clubhouse is, however. I wasn’t necessarily expecting Bull Durham or some high school level accommodations, but I wasn’t expecting it to be nearly equal in many respects to the big league side. The lockers are made of wood (like the major leaguers) and are certainly an acceptable size, the flood is nicely carpeted and it has a welcoming tone to it. It’s much better than many road stadium clubhouses (and some home ones too) I’ve seen in my baseball travels.
On this particular morning, I meet Alex “Chi-Chi” Gonzalez in the clubhouse and we talk about his outing in the big league “A” game the day before. He allowed three of the four men he faced to reach base before being removed after hitting his 20-pitch limit. A pair of meekly-hit grounders were able to sneak through for hits, so he isn’t overly negative about his performance even though all three men came home to score later in the inning. As for his nickname (which he prefers to go by, by the way), Chi-Chi says it was given to him by his grandfather’s brother; he nicknamed Gonzalez’ two older sisters Nina and Nene, so Chi-Chi seemed to fit the bill for Alex.
9 a.m. – Pockets of minor league hitters are taking batting practice out on the back fields (the big leaguers practice on the two fields closest to the stadium/clubhouse). I stumble upon the BP group that folks who love prospects dream about: Joey Gallo, Nick Williams, Lewis Brinson and Nomar Mazara. Like many, I’ve heard a lot about these players but have never seen them in person (Ronald Guzman and Jorge Alfaro are also among the super-prospects who are super-young and populated Hickory’s Avengers-like squad last season). Like many, I am impressed at first glance. I didn’t realize how big they all were. At 6’3″, Brinson is the shrimp of the group. The others are either 6’4″ or 6’5″ and aren’t just tall rods with pine tar on their batting gloves. They’re built like stallions and we may see one or two gallop to Frisco by the end of 2014 if things go well.
I have a nice conversation about Cody Buckel with rehab pitching coordinator Keith Comstock, who says that Buckel is throwing the ball as well as he ever has. Buckel, the Rangers’ 2012 Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year, suffered a bad case of the yips last season and spent most of the campaign rewiring himself mentally and mechanically. I hadn’t heard much about Cody since the end of the season and am excited to see him pitch later in the day.
9:30 a.m. – The pitchers meet as a group with new farm director Mike Daly right next to the tall observation structure pictured at the start of the blog entry and it’s not long before Daly is about to give another talk to the hitters. It’s recommended that I join the group if I want a cool history lesson. Daly proceeds to educate the players about notable players from the 1966 MLB draft. The first overall pick was Steve Chilcott by the Mets – a seven-year minor leaguer who never reached the show. The second pick did slightly better. His name is Reggie Jackson. Daly tells the group about Reggie’s career and his epic performances in the World Series before finishing up by talking about the sixth overall pick from that draft: none other than Tom Grieve. I later speak with Daly and we talk about his history lesson. He’s concerned about the relative lack of knowledge many young players have about players who came before them, so he makes it a point to relay some history during camp through his own lessons and visits from legends like Pudge Rodriguez and others. Hopefully Texas’ minor leaguers can avoid the fate of Josh Hart.
10 a.m. – After the meetings wrap up, it’s more practice time on the back fields. The four fields are filled with defensive drills, bunt plays and batting practice. I’ll see infield work before games throughout the season, but never 20-30 minutes’ worth with every pitcher also taking part in these simulated situations. These are the minor leagues, and the minors are all about development. We see that over the course of the season, but the foundation is laid right here.
11:30 a.m. – Most of the big leaguers have left the practice fields to get ready for that afternoon’s game against the Reds, but not everyone has headed back to the clubhouse. On the infield-only field, Greg Maddux is hitting ground balls back to Matt Harrison, Nick Tepesch and Tommy Hanson. So not only the minor league guys work on fielding, and what better mound defender to learn from than Maddux, who only racked up a record 18 Gold Gloves during his Hall of Fame career. With not a whole lot else going on, a crush of fans flock to get in prime autograph position for when the session is over (for Tepesch, obviously).
On my way back to the big league side, I have a short chat with Rangers manager Ron Washington who is about to drive his golf back to the clubhouse. I wish him luck this season at the end of our conversation, to which he responds, “Well thank you baby!” and drives off.
12 noon - I meet Brandon Boyd, who is one of the Rangers’ clubhouse managers and also a former RoughRiders employee. Brandon oversaw the ‘Riders clubhouse from 2005-09 before moving on to Arlington. He takes me into the big league clubhouse, where I catch up with several familiar faces: Mitch Moreland, a RoughRider in 2009 and a rehabber in 2012 & ’13; Ryan Feierbend, a 2013 ‘Rider who would throw a scoreless inning in relief of Yu Darvish later in the day; and Brett Nicholas, Frisco’s best offensive player in 2013. Nicholas has been with the big club for the spring, mostly as a catcher after spending nearly all of last year at first base. Most of the clubhouse is vacant, but that is probably because it is when media is allowed in for interviews (nobody likes the media, especially radio guys).
On my way back to the minor leaguers, I stop to talk to Harrison, who I met during his rehab stint with Frisco last summer. Harrison will pitch for the first time in Tuesday’s game and says he feels completely healthy for the first time in a very long time. He says 2013 was agonizing, but feels like he is in great shape and is ready to get back to what made him an All-Star in 2012.
12:15 p.m. – I return to the back fields to watch the three intersquad games being played (the start of Phase 2 of Spring Training). Basically, all of the players in camp are mixed into random teams and pitted against one another for games that would last approximately five innings. This is once of the coolest parts of the day. On Field 5 I see Jorge Alfaro lace a Kevin Pucetas knuckleball to right-center for a triple. Pucetas is reinventing himself as a knuckleball pitcher after toying with the pitch in Frisco last season. Despite the Alfaro three-bagger, the knucklers dance enough that Pucetas does not allow another baserunner.
When I turn to Field 4, I watch Alex Claudio end an inning with a pickoff at second base with Juremi Profar batting and later Jon Edwards hits 98 on the radar gun. It is tough to keep up with all three games at once, so I miss some action but thoroughly enjoy what I did see. And the players seem to enjoy playing in games for the first time since last season. The minor league guys will play intersquad games on Tuesday and Wednesday before squaring off against other organizations beginning Thursday.
Soon enough, it’s Buckel’s turn to pitch and I am not disappointed. Cody looks a lot like the 2012 Cody; the one who struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings and displayed impeccable control. Buckel gets a strikeout and ultimately retires three of the four men he faces. Afterwards, he tells me that it felt good to finally pitch in his first game action since a pair of early-August AZL contests. He says he didn’t attack the strike zone the way he has in recent bullpens, but chalks that up to the long delay in facing live batters.
As an aside, I don’t want to make Buckel’s outing out to be more than it was. It was a good step in the right direction after a nightmare 2013, not a guarantee that he will never struggle again on the mound in the minors. I hope that he can string outings like this together and get his career back to where it was, and then beyond. Monday was not a definitive answer to anything, but it certainly was encouraging to see.
2 p.m. – Following the intersquad games, I head back to Surprise Stadium, where the Rangers and Reds are well underway. But before I can enter the stadium through the team offices, I encounter an obstacle I just am not expecting: bees. Lots of them. A stone column that sits between the office and the stadium concourse apparently gathered an enormous mass of bees over the span of an hour. There was no hive there previously; they just all swarmed to that spot and just stayed. I’m told it’s probably not safe to walk past them and that pest control is on its way. I agree that missing an inning or so of a Spring Training game in exchange for avoiding hundreds of simultaneous bee stings is probably a fair trade. It isn’t long before a group of close to a dozen people (including Rangers special assistant and former pitcher Darren Oliver) join me to watch the extermination.
A photo essay of the kill:
2:15 p.m. – The Rangers and Reds are in the fifth inning by the time I get past the bees and into the stadium. Yu Darvish is finishing up his outing and both teams get ready to send in position players that 95% of the stadium has never heard of. Now 11 years old, Billy Parker Field at Surprise Stadium holds up very well and seems to be an enjoyable place to watch a game. There’s a big Monday crowd on hand; hopefully most of them do not leave with bee stings.
3:15 p.m. – Because I did not get the chance to see him on Sunday, I make a stop by the Rangers’ broadcast booth to see Eric
Nadel. I’ve met Eric a few times at Rangers games and he has always been kind to me. Rangers fans are lucky to have had him for so long and I wasn’t the only one who was very happy for his Hall of Fame election this past off-season. I don’t want to take too much of his and Matt Hicks’ time during the game, but I congratulate Eric on the honor during an inning break and then scoot out of the booth. In the radio booth right next door, fellow Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman is broadcasting for the Reds’ radio network. Eric calls Marty one of his career mentors.
3:40 p.m. – The Rangers wrap up an 8-2 win over Cincinnati as former RoughRiders Neftali Feliz and Nicholas form the game-ending battery. It’s Texas’ first win since Thursday against San Diego and the last game I’ll see at Surprise Stadium during my stay in Arizona. The team heads to Camelback Ranch in Glendale to play the White Sox on Tuesday and I’ll be there for at least some of it as I hit the home stretch of my stay in the desert.
As always thanks for reading,
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 substance – Highlights 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.)
(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 turn – Randy 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 field – From 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 Indians – Robbie 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 spring – ESPNDallas.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 role – Ron Washington and Mike Maddux talk about 2012 RoughRiders pitcher Nick Tepesch and his odds on winning the fifth spot in the Rangers’ rotation.
We interrupt today’s edition of “Nolan Ryan Talk” to bring you the latest development involving the guys who are actually on the field: last night the Rangers announced the signing of veteran pitcher Derek Lowe to a minor league deal. Lowe split last year between the rotation and bullpen for the Indians and Yankees, going 9-11 with a 5.11 ERA and one save in 38 games, 21 starts. The big sinkerballer has bounced around the last few seasons, but is best known for being one of the chief “idiots” on the 2004 World Series-winning Boston Red Sox, earning the clinching win in all three series that post-season.
While he’s not on the Rangers’ 40-man roster at the moment, you would have to think he’s a at least a decent bet to make the club out of spring training given his versatility, the team’s lack of experienced middle relievers, and the fact that the Rangers were facing the prospects of going into a season without a pitcher named “Lowe” for the first time in four years (Mark signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers last month).
As someone who grew up in the Boston area and remembers when Dan Duquette pulled off one of the greatest heists in big league history – trading Heathcliff Slocumb for Lowe and some guy named Jason Varitek – I have a special place in my heart for the Michigan native. I watched him go back-and-forth from the starting rotation to the closer spot and have success in both positions, pitch a no-hitter in 2002 against the Devil Rays, and put a lot of Boston nightclub owners’ kids through college.
It’s a smart, low-risk move for the Rangers, who could benefit tremendously if Lowe can locate his sinker and be effective for a couple innings at a time when called upon (or even fill in as a starter). If he doesn’t work out, he didn’t cost you much to begin with so there’s no obligation to keep him. He should be a strong clubhouse presence as a player who has succeeded on the biggest stages and is known to be a good teammate. And, at the very least, his acquisition has slowed down some of the Ryan talk that has become a distraction for the organization.
The Rangers won a 3-2 decision over the Cubs in Surprise yesterday and got some strong pitching from Robbie Ross (4 IP, 4 H, 1 R) and Alexi Ogando (3 IP, 6 K, 1 R). Lance Berkman also homered as the team won its second straight Cactus League contest.
Jon Daniels has the power; Nolan Ryan has the love – (Note: read around the “sign in” bubble to take in the article) Before we get to the on-the-field items, this Randy Galloway column is a must-read for fans interested in the Nolan Ryan story (i.e., pretty much all Rangers fans). Galloway has been all over this story from the start and says that Daniels was actually offered the full CEO job that belonged to Ryan, in addition to the president title, back in November but turned it down. More interesting stuff to chew on.
Berkman confident about health as Opening Day approaches - Jeff Wilson has the Big Puma feeling good about his ability to be ready to go come March 31.
Rapid Reaction from Texas win – Ron Matejko’s fast facts on yesterday’s victory.
Robbie Ross continues to impress – With Perez out until May, the former RoughRiders lefty may have cast himself as the new favorite to take the fifth starter spot after yesterday’s outing.
Alexi Ogando rewards Ron Washington’s faith – Given the way his first two spring outings went, Ogando’s strong performance was maybe the most encouraging thing about yesterday’s game.
Derek Lowe gives club versatility – Richard Durrett gives his thoughts on the Lowe acquisition.
Astros should woo Nolan Ryan – ESPN.com’s Johnette Howard argues that Jim Crane should be pulling out all the stops to swipe away the Rangers’ CEO.
Angels’ Hamilton primed for monster year — but holds no grudges – Some interesting nuggets on CBS.com’s Jon Heyman’s interview with former Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, including Hamilton saying that Nolan Ryan wished that Texas hadn’t dragged its feet in the negotiations.
Rangers don’t plan to return Alexi Ogando – and maybe Robbie Ross – to bullpen (subscription only) – Gerry Fraley thinks that the starting rotation is the final destination for both Ogando and Ross.
Ogando, Ross giving Rangers confidence in rotation – T.R. Sullivan’s report on the two pitchers impressing Ron Washington yesterday.
Rangers press on despite Ryan’s uncertainty – Sullivan has plenty of quotes from Daniels on the Ryan story.
Olt, Martin pulled out of Rangers’ lineup – Sullivan’s notes column has injury updates on Mike Olt (tooth pain, not the Rory McIlroy type), Leonys Martin (hamstring), Kyle McClellan (shoulder), Tanner Scheppers (hamstring) and Yoshinori Tateyama (back).
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.
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?
Six degrees of Kevin Bacon is a popular party game where people try to link themselves to the Hollywood star. During a brainstorming session, the idea came up and all of us started laughing. We never realized that we would find not one, but four links to the Frisco RoughRiders. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Circle of Bacon.
The first chain begins with none other than Kevin Bacon. He was in A Few Good Men with Tom Cruise, which is a great movie by the way and it has a baseball tie-in because Cruise’s character loves playing baseball. Back to the chain, Tom Cruise was in Interview With A Vampire with Brad Pitt. Brad Pitt was in Moneyball with Brent Jennings who was portraying Ron Washington. Ron Washington is the manager of the Texas Rangers, which is the parent club of the Frisco RoughRiders completing chain one.
The second chain begins much like the first. Kevin Bacon was in A Few Good Men with Tom Cruise who was in Interview With A Vampire with Brad Pitt. The chain changes because Brad Pitt played Billy Beane. Billy Beane played for the Jackson Mets, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets that were part of the Texas League, from 1982 to 1984. The Jackson Mets moved to Binghamton and joined the Eastern League in 1991. The Houston Astros took over the Double-A franchise renaming it the Jackson Generals, where the team remained until 1999. Nolan Ryan and his group took over and moved the Generals to Round Rock eventually becoming the Round Rock Express where they claimed the Texas League title in 2000. The owners of the Round Rock Express acquired the Triple-A franchise in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and moved that club to Round Rock. The Double-A version of the Round Rock Express moved to Corpus Christi eventually becoming the Corpus Christi Hooks who compete against the RoughRiders in the Texas League.
Through Corpus Christi we can complete the third chain all the way back to the original source, Kevin Bacon. Hooks’ broadcaster Matt Hicks was an extra in Major League which starred Charlie Sheen. Charlie Sheen was in The Three Musketeers with Kiefer Sutherland. Kiefer Sutherland was in Flatliners with Kevin Bacon completing the circle of bacon.
Lastly, we decided to have a little fun and make another connection to the RoughRiders family. Kevin Bacon was in A Few Good Men with Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise was in Rain Man with Dustin Hoffman. Dustin Hoffman was in American Buffalo directed by Michael Corrente who shot the movie in his hometown of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Pawtucket is the home of the Pawtucket Red Sox. The lead broadcaster for the Red Sox is none other than former RoughRiders’ broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith.
These chains explain how everyone in the world quite possibly could be connected to Kevin Bacon. Are you?
Written by: Jarah Wright
Graphics by: Alex Yocum-Beeman
Last night I had the great privilege of attending the Winter Meetings’ Gala at the Ballpark in Arlington. Here are some pics I took throughout the night to share with you.
Thanks to the Rangers for putting on a great event. The Meetings next year, in case you’re curious, will be held in Nashville.