Mar 282012
 

2012 has begun!  The Athletics and Mariners are over in Japan wrapping up the season opener as I type this.  One note, the Rangers will be tied with the Angels for 2nd when this game completes.  Nice article by Jim Caples (ESPN) on Ichiro’s return to Japan.

Wednesday Morning CurveballsMike Napoli hit two home runs in yesterday’s Spring Training match-up with the Padres, which was won by the Rangers when Joey Butler (of Baseball Do podcast fame) scored from third on a wild pitch.

  • Ian Kinsler continues to tear through Spring Training, compiling 3 hits in the game, raising his Spring Training batting average to .422.  I’m calling it right now – Kinsler will not hit above .422 during the regular season.
  • Robbie Ross, who is fighting for a spot in the bullpen with the Rangers, started the game and gave up 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk over 2 innings of work.

“I was up just a little bit,” Ross said. “I got behind on batter a few times. I hit my spots OK, but I think I could have attacked the guy that hit the home run better than I did. I kind of pitched around him and nit-picked a little bit.”

  • Ross made a nice defensive play, snagging a line drive hit back to the mound by Chris Denorfia.  Credit Greg Maddux with the nice glove work by the prospect.  After Ross just got out of the way of a similar line drive hit by Torii Hunter on Sunday, Maddux put Ross out on the mound and drilled 6 line drives back at him, making him field the ball rather than bail.

“He was hitting them at me, so this time I was like, ‘Oh, that’s what we worked on,’” Ross said. “It was kind of nice knowing I could stick in there with that.”

Wednesday Morning CurveballsNeftali Feliz got back on the mound for the first time since being pulled early from a game last week due to should stiffness.

  • Feliz gave up one earned run (three runs total) on six hits and one walk in four innings of work, striking out three.
  • He hit 96 MPH with his fastball in both of his final two innings of game.

“I felt good,” said Feliz through a translator. “Everything was OK. I wasn’t trying to throw hard, just trying to keep my pitches down.”

The Rangers are expected to announce their starting rotation very soon.  It’s known that Colby Lewis will start Opening Day and Neftali Feliz will take the 5th spot.  If the Rangers are truly wanting to split up their left-handers, as manager Ron Washington eluded to earlier this Spring, than the rotation should look like:

  1. Colby Lewis
  2. Derek Holland
  3. Yu Darvish
  4. Matt Harrison
  5. Neftali Feliz

Quick Hits

  • Hold your breath…Elvis Andrus left yesterday’s game with a tight right hip flexor muscle.  The plan is to rest him today and get him back in the lineup tomorrow.  Wash isn’t concerned.  Exhale…
  • Joe Nathan pitched back-to-back days for the first time this Spring on Monday & Tuesday.  His outing yesterday, against the Royals AA team, was especially gratifying as he struck out 2 and got a ground out in a quick 11 pitch inning.
  • Nathan hiy 94 MPG with his fastball and said that his arm felt strong on Tuesday than it did on Monday.

“I had good building blocks yesterday and built on that,” Nathan said.

  • The Dutch Oven pitches tonight at the Royals and Alexi Ogando will pitch in a minor league game against the Dodgers in which is expected to go 6 innings.
  • Wednesday Morning CurveballsT.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) wrote a good article on Adrian Beltre’s leadership role on the Rangers.  The article is filled with comments from his teammates and manager Ron Washington.

“It’s so easy on this team to be yourself and help others,” Beltre said. “There are not a lot of guys who get out of line. It makes it easy. I like to have fun. It helps me relax and enjoy the game. When I enjoy the game, I perform better. It’s tough to have fun when you’re losing. The good thing is this team wins a lot. It’s easier that way.”

  • Next week’s podcast will be our 2012 Season Preview Special.
  • We’re planning a giveaway in the near future for some Rangers tickets, so stay tuned.
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Mar 122012
 

 

Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers Shares How Yu Darvish Could be Even Better

Could Yu become even better in the eyes of Feliz?

Yu Darvish’s initial spring training start was universally dubbed a galactic success.

Whoops, I just misspelled “success.”  Darvish’s outing was so amazing that the synonym for “conquest” can no longer be spelled without a “Yu.” Literally.

Syuccess.

Spelling the word in this manner not only pleases the eye, it pleasures your computer. My laptop just gave me a high-five! What? You thought Yu-mania was only reserved for human beings?! HA!

As a matter of fact there is only one man—in the entire galaxy, I checked—saddened by Yu Darvish’s unprecedented series of spring training successes. That man is Neftali Feliz.

After all, the accolade-overdose thrust upon The Yu, was supposed to be dumped on Neftali too.

Regardless, Feliz made his spring training debut last Thursday, and BaseballDo sent me there for a quick interview.

Well, sort of.

 *****

My first question for Neftali Feliz was of the hard-hitting journalistic style. Hey, I didn’t spend a decade in hard-hitting journalism school for nothing!

“So Feliz, in your opinion, is there any way that Yu Darvish could possibly become any better than he already is?”

Booya! Hard…Hitting!

After a moment of deep reflection, Feliz explained to me in his native tongue that he needed more time to consider his answer to this question.

My initial question would prove to be my only query, as Feliz proceeded to conduct the entire interview solomente. And for those of you that aren’t bilingue, “solomente” meant that he conducted the entire interview by himself.  Yep, he asked  himself the questions, and then answered them. Out loud. Yeah, it was weird.  It made my job pretty easy though, I just kicked back and wrote it all down. I have provided the necessary translations in italics.

“En mis propias palabras.  Las palabras que fueron inventadas por otra persona.”

I am now talking, and in doing so, I am speaking out-loud in a manner that is similar to an interview, especially an interview that is conducted by only one person, the person that is doing the interview.

“By Neftali Feliz.”

By Neftali Feliz. And yes, he actually said the words out loud.  Again this is odd. But hey, he’s the former rookie of the year not me!

“En mi primero estrada.”

My first inning of work.

“No fue bien.  Obscenidad. Rendí un jonrón al hombre gordo grande llamó pinche puto ‘Asno’. Obscenidad”

It was poor.  Expletive. A really fat “Donkey-man” took me deep on my fastball. Expletive.

“Esto me hizo enojado. El año pasado personas lo baten tirando secretamente. Obscenidad. Me recordó del Diablo Supermo, pinche jota de los Cardinales del sexto juego. Obscenidad.”

I was angered by this unexpected turn of events. Last year, you could get him out by throwing underhand. Expletive. Donkey-man had the happy look in his eye of Freese from game six. Expletive.

“Como mirando los tetas grandes de Asno zangolotean me audaron me calmo. Jajaja. ¡Entonces jogoso! Jajaja.”

The large Donkey-man’s jiggling breasts as he rounded the bases helped to calm my frazzled nerves. Hahaha. So juicy! Hahaha.

“Sólo en los Estados Unidos hace tienen a hombres con tetas grandes como eso.  ¡Sólo mujeres están como eso en el Dominicano¡ Podría cambiar…cosas.”

Large jiggling breasts on men are a product of the United States of America only.  Only women have such wonderful devices in the Dominican. Large breasted men could…change things.

Hahaha…

NOTE: The laugh included was my own. Feliz did not laugh, and for a moment things became awkward as he stared my way.

Suddenly, my decision to wear an Under Armor compression shirt went from a comfortably cool idea into a misguided mistake.  Those things really cling to the old man-boobs. For the first time in my life, I felt that the room was a tad too cold.

I briefly explained to Neftali that my eyes were “up here” which seemed to shatter the spell.

For the next several moments we cleared our throats—while making assorted manly noises—and talked about how much more attractive women are than men.

Yes, even the large breasted men were not nearly as attractive as women.

Feliz suddenly had the look of a man that had discovered a simple solution to a difficult problem.  For the first time in a few minutes, the former closer spoke:

“Dibujaré para usted la respuesta a su pregunta.”

I will draw for you the question to my answer.

He proceeded to grab a large sketchbook from under his chair. He immediately began to draw, pausing only to to put on a painter’s beret with matching turtleneck. More than once, he laughed maniacally. It was unsettling.

Finally, he tore off a page and carefully folded it once before handing it my way.  He then decided to conclude his interview of himself.

“En el Segundo entrada, Washington permitó que tire mi queso grande y yo dominé. Aquí permita que le muestre algo.”

In the second inning, the capital of the United States of America allowed me to throw my fastball, which smelled of cheese.  I dominated.

“Siga. Eche una Mirada a eso. ¡Eso es lo que deseo hablo de ahora! Jajajaja.”

Go Ahead. Take a look at that. That picture I drew is answer to your first question! Hahahaha.

I unfolded the paper and discovered that he had drawn a picture of Yu Darvish.  Something was very different about him, though.  It was probably the enormous knockers drawn on Darvish’s body that marked the biggest difference.

Neftali Feliz gave me a sly smile, followed by a thumbs-up sign. Then in English, he said:

 ”That is the only way Yu Darvish could be become any better!”

¡Las tetas grandes son las únicas maneras Yu Darvish podría conseguir mejor!

As I left the interview room and closed the door, I could still faintly make out the crazy cackle of Neftali Feliz. I feel certain that he continued to laugh (in Spanish) long after I had made my way into the hard-hitting journalistic style parking spot that had been reserved for yours truly.

Hell, he may still be laughing right now.

¡Jajajajajajaja!

Hahahahahahaha!

Find Timothy on Twitter.

Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers Shares How Yu Darvish Could be Even Better

Perhaps he is not staring at anything. Perhaps he is staring at something. And perhaps what he stares at is jiggly.

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Mar 012012
 
  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsMike Napoli will test the free agent market after 2012, “I’d love to be here, but I’ll test the market.  Every player plays to get to free agency. But it’s not something I’m going to worry about. That’s why I have my agent.”
  • Napoli’s ankle feels good after a week of workouts and he plans to catch 3-4 innings in tomorrow’s intrasquad game.
  • Yu Darvish put all 7 of his pitches on display yesterday during his BP session.  Mike Napoli, who got to catch the session, said “He has great movement.  He was throwing the sinker and it moved and he threw a couple of splits where the bottom just dropped out of it. He knows what he’s doing with the ball. He knows how to manipulate the ball.”
  • The Rangers are at the center of a international signing controversy with the signing of Dominican teenager Jairo Beras.  Beras, who according to Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) “the club believes is 17 years old and eligible to sign with any organization now. But according to reports, other rival executives believe Beras is 16 years old and would not be eligible to sign until July 2.  If Beras is 16, he falls under the new rules governing international signings as part of the new collective bargaining agreement. Teams will have a cap of $2.9 million in bonuses it can hand out to international players for one year, starting July 2. After that, the bonus money will be based on record, giving the teams that finish lower in the standings more money to spend. “
  • Are you a bobble-head junkie?  Beltre, Kins and Wash will be the bobble-heads of choice in 2012 according to the 2012 Promotions schedule.
  • Ron Washington and Bobby Valentine are disagreeing on one of the all-time great defensive plays – Jeter’s “flip” during the 2001 ALCS.  Valentine argues that Jeremy Giambi would have been out regardless of the flip, and Washington says Jeter makes the out with the flip.  I agree with Wash and wonder if Valentine is getting vocal on this simply because he’s in Jeter’s division now.  I hate the Yanks just as much as all of you, but respect Jeter – that was one of the greatest defensive plays I’ve ever seen.
  • T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) wrote a column on Michael Young embracing his current role.  Michael is simply a class-act, and I’m so glad he didn’t end up getting shipped to Colorado a year ago for some spare part…
  • Thursday Morning ChangeupsRichard Durrett (ESPNDallas) on David Murphy and his focus for 2012.  Murph is going into 2012 hoping for more playing time, but not at the expense of his teammates health, ”I have a positive mindset for my teammates.  I know that the last few years I’ve gotten my 400 at-bats because there’s been a lot of injuries and I don’t want Nelson to get hurt or Josh to get hurt. If Nelson gets 150 or 160 games, he’s an MVP candidate. I don’t want him on the bench.
    All the same, there’s no reason I need to stress out about anything. Things always seem to happen. I always am able to play some sort of role and that’s something that can’t be predicted and I guess there’s almost no reason to talk about it until the end of the season when it’s all said and done and the games and at-bats columns are final.”
  • Murph bring a ton of value to this team as a quality left-handed bat off the bench and a solid 4th outfielder.  Would he start for other teams?
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Feb 292012
 

If you missed our most recent Podcast, check it out here.  We had a good time talking about Josh Hamilton with our guests, Jennifer and Holly from RangersTalkers.com.

Wednesday Morning CurveballsJerry Crasnick (ESPN.com) asks the question Do the Rangers have an Ace in their stable?

  • As Crasnick puts it, the Rangers pitching staff is long on talent, but short on experience.  ”The Texas rotation, as currently constructed, is long on talent and relatively short on experience. Colby Lewis, the elder statesman of the group at 32, has 631 big league innings if you exclude his time in Japan. Lefties Derek Holland, 25, and Matt Harrison, 26, continue to grow and evolve. Neftali Feliz is transitioning from closer, and Alexi Ogando could land in the rotation or the bullpen. The Rangers also have Scott Feldman, who was a postseason savior as the team’s long man in October.  Which brings us, finally, to Yu Darvish, whose talent and stuff prompted the Rangers to shell out almost $112 million between the posting fee and the contract.”
  • Crasnick then asks the real question – does it matter if their is a true ace or not?  He goes on to name all of the teams in MLB that have a legitimate ace, and says “Despite the absence of Rangers from the list, two big league front-office people said Texas’ rotation is worthy of a pennant contender, particularly because it’s supported by such a formidable lineup.”
  • Crasnick makes some good points in the article and it’s definitely worth the read, but I’m really hoping that one of two things happen in 2012:
  1. One of the existing Rangers starters develops into an ace over the course of the year and can serve in that role during the playoffs – Darvish or Holland seem to make the most sense to me.
  2. If #1 doesn’t happen, the Rangers are in a position to trade for a true ace at the trade deadline.

The uncomfortably named Michael Weiner, Executive Director of the MLB Players Association, was at Rangers camp yesterday for the Rangers union meeting.  With both last year’s player rep and the back up, C.J. and O’Day respectively, no longer with the club, the team will need to identify replacements.

  • Weiner talked briefly about Ryan Braun’s recent “testing” debacle, saying ”Any strong program has to to deter use, has to have appropriate penalities and also has to have a fair appeals process.  This doesn’t take away from our process. Anybody that wants both a tough and fair program should be satisfied with this result.”
  • Weiner also talked about Josh Hamilton’s recent relapse, ”The union and the Commissioner’s Office jointly administer a program and Josh is a part of that.  Josh is working hard under that program and our first concern is for Josh’s well-being. Josh has the resources that he needs,” Weiner said.

Quick hits:

  • Wednesday Morning CurveballsRon Washington is impressed with Neftali Feliz’s attitude, ”He’s focused and he’s confident and he’s getting the opportunity to use all his pitches in batting practice.  He has been a leader in his group out there. So far, he seems very happy to be a starter. To me, that is 50 percent of it. The other 50 percent is going out and getting it done. He’s determined to do well. He’s going to win some game for us.”
  • Elvis Andrus (foot) didn’t participate in any running drills yesterday, but did hit in the cage and take grounders.  Should be back to full speed soon.
  • Mike Adams (hernia) will throw again today and plan’s to pitch in the intrasquad game on Friday.
  • Jeff Wilson (Star-Telegram) writes about David Murphy’s hope for more playing time in 2012.
  • Jon Daniels when asked if he’s optimistic about Josh Hamilton remaining with the Rangers beyond 2012 after his comments from last Friday and over the weekend, “The comments don’t play into it much. Maybe I’m an optimist but I’d like to think that at the appropriate time, we’ll sit down and be able to work something out. Bottom line is the club would like to keep Josh in Texas, and I think he’d like to be here. It’s been a mutually beneficial relationship, without a doubt. Every situation is unique and requires some level of creativity. If that’s the mindset on both sides, we’ll be OK. For now though, we all think it’s best to let Josh’s family and sobriety be the priority, followed by getting ready for the season. We’ll handle the contract talks privately at some point.”
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Feb 282012
 

We recorded he podcast last night with Jennifer Cobb and Holly Ballantine from www.RangersTalkers.com.  We’ll have it posted up here on the site later this morning be sure to check it out to hear how the sTalkers got started and all of our thoughts on the recent Josh Hamilton news.  Disclaimer: Jennifer’s dog is named “Hambone”.

  • Tuesday Morning SlidersThe Rangers announced Yu Darvish will  make his first Spring Training start on March 7th at 2 p.m. against San Diego in Peoria.  The game will be broadcast on texasrangers.com.  Darvish threw 36 pitches yesterday and seemed to be happy with the outing.
  • Here is the full rotation for the first five Spring Training games:
    March 4: Colby Lewis, Scott Feldman
    March 5: Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando
    March 6: Matt Harrison
    March 7: Darvish
    March 8: Neftali Feliz
  • Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) provides an overview of the center field battle.

Ron Washington has said he’s going to allow Elvis Andrus to start taking responsibility for his own play, rather than watching over the young shortstop as closely and proactively addressing his play.  Andrus,while still only 23 years old, has been a full-timer at the major league level for the Rangers for the last three seasons.

  • Tuesday Morning SlidersWashington on Andrus, “He’s established himself now to the point where he knows what he has to do.  We’re going to give him some leeway. His teammates will make sure he does what he needs to do. I think we’ll see less of him zoning out than we have in the past.”
  • Andrus on the new found freedom, ”I am learning how to handle my body and my mind better.  Last year, he wasn’t on me quite as much. I appreciate the help and I needed it, but at the same time, as you grow as a player and a person, you want that responsibility to do it yourself. I don’t expect him to be behind me like he was earlier. I know when I make a mistake. I know he’ll be there to help me when I need it too.”
  • Andrus on wanting to improve his power stroke, ”I want to add some power.  I don’t mean home runs. Those happen with good swings. But I want to drive the ball more to the gaps.”

The starting rotation has been much of the talk so far this Spring Training, with potentially 7 viable options, not counting the always looming presence of free-agent veteran Roy Oswalt, and only 5 spots.

  • T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) writes that Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz are both making solid impressions early in camp here.
  • Sullivan on Feliz, “It is still early in camp but Washington likes what he sees from both pitchers, especially Feliz. Washington said he sees a pitcher who came to camp determined to be a starter.”
  • Scott Miller (CBSSports) writes that Oswalt still wants the Rangers.
  • For our take on the rotation, be sure to check out the Spring Training podcast special we recorded last week.
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Feb 222012
 
  • Wednesday Morning CurveballsThe time has finally come…Happy Pitchers & Catchers Day!
  • Yu Darvish got his first bullpen session under his belt, as he threw 30 pitches catcher Luis Martinez.  Martinez provides a brief scouting reporting into what Yu was bringing, “I was excited and happy to catch him.  He had a bunch of pitches, great stuff and stayed down in the zone. He threw curveballs, sliders, changeup, splits. He did really well.”
    Martinez went on to say that he was most impressed with Darvish’s cutter and two-seam fastball.
  • Darvish arrived in the bullpen area with several other pitchers, including Derek Holland, whom Darvish expressed his interested in learning English to.  Holland didn’t seem eager to take on the role of tutor, saying ”He’s practicing it.  He said, ‘Please teach me English.’ I told him I’m not the best guy to be teaching English. We were joking. He was getting a feel for it.  He wants to learn it. That’s a pretty neat thing. He’s interacting with us. He’s not standoffish. He’s coming right with us. He’s a normal person. It won’t be hard for him to fit right in chemistry-wise.”
  • Pitching Coach Mike Maddux spoke with Galloway & Company  (103.3FM, ESPN) yesterday, and had to this say about Darvish, ”As far as Yu coming in the clubhouse, he’s just going to be one of the guys, man.  That’s one of the greatest things about our team is the way Wash’s personality has infiltrated the clubhouse. Everybody’s family down here. We all got one another’s back. And Yu’s gonna come in. He’s just going to be another one of the guys. We’re going to support him every day so that he can concentrate on baseball and we’ll take care of the media stuff when we’re done with our work.”
  • Ron Washington got his first good look at Darvish yesterday.  Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) covers Washington’s thoughts here.
  • Most Major League baseball players are driving expensive cars, or at the very least, plush SUVs, so when something shows up in the parking lot that looks like this, needless to say it’s going to peak some curiousity:
    Wednesday Morning Curveballs That sweet-ass Dune Buggy belongs to none other than Derek Holland.  Holland says ”It’s a Razor S.  It’s an off-road vehicle. But it has license plates so you can drive it on the road. It’s perfectly legal.”
    Holland takes the off-road vehicle to the nearby White Tank Mountains, which can be seen from the Rangers Spring Training complex.
  • The Rangers acquired Kelvin De La Cruz from the Cleveland Indians and placed him on the 40-man roster.  GM Jon Daniels feels a change in role will benefit De La Cruz, “He’s done very well against left-handers.  We see him in the bullpen and have some scouts who feel he is more suited to that role.”
  • Kohi Uehara, who has been the talk of much trade speculation, got the vote of confidence from JD yesterday, ”There are always some deals in the spring, moves here or there.  But we’re ready to go with this group of guys. I have no moves planned or anything like that.”
    JD went on about Koji, saying “The guy had a tremendous year last year.  One of the attractive things about trading for Koji last year was he was not just a rental. He was a two-year fit. That was an attractive element to the deal and still is.”
  • Mitch Moreland and Mike Napoli both participated in full batting practice yesterday, with Manager Ron Washington throwing BP.  Both players had off-season surgery, so it’s nice to see them getting some early cuts to test their limits.
    Napoli has said that he believes his ankle is currently at 80%, but feels confident that he’ll be ready to go by Opening Day.
  • Colby Lewis isn’t concerned about his contract situation, ”We had very small, limited talks right after the season.  They wanted to know how I felt. Nothing came of it this offseason. If something comes up, it will come up, but I’m not too concerned about it. I’ve got to take care of the daily stuff.”
    Word is Colby was sporting a sweet beard when he arrived in Surprise…that means he’s going to have a great year.
  • The Rangers intend to stretch a few of their pitching prospects out to prepare for rotation roles in the minors, including Martin Perez, Neil Ramirez & Robbie Ross.  Tanner Scheppers, on the other hand, will work exclusively in relief during the Spring.  Based on the current make-up of the bullpen, it’s been speculated that both Scheppers and Perez could find a spot there with the big league club.  As of now, the Rangers could use another left-hander, so watch Perez closely this Spring to see if he could fill that void.
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Feb 212012
 

Baseball Do Podcast   Spring Training Special

We’re back…

Spring Training is upon and we answer some key questions facing the Rangers as they get to work in Surprise.

  • Center field – Gentry, Borbon, Martin, or….
  • Mitch Moreland
  • Pitching Rotation
  • Yu Darvish Distractions
  • Josh Hamilton Hangover (may be a better way to describe this…)

Be sure to listen carefully for an easy way to win a free “Nolan is my Homeboy” T-Shirt and for a way to participate and contribute to Baseball Do!

Smile folks…it’s time for Baseball!

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Feb 212012
 
  • Tuesday Morning SlidersSpring Training officially starts tomorrow!
  • Jasen and I wrapped up our Spring Training Special podcast last night and I’ll have it posted up here to the site later today and available on iTunes by tomorrow.
  • My little stroll down Rangers Boulevard yesterday means there is a lot to catch up on today, so I may be brief.
Mike Napoli
  • Mike Napoli was in Surprise over the weekend, starting to test the strength of his ankle, and said he’s coming into Spring Training prepared to compete for the starting role, “I’ve always come into Spring Training trying to win a job.  That’s why I pushed myself to get ready for this spring. I come in here not expecting anything to be given to me. Torrealba is a good catcher. He has been a starter in this league and can start for us.  Hopefully we go out there and make it a competition. I always go out and try to earn a job.”
  • While Napoli’s performance from last year probably guaranteed him the starting spot behind the plate, it’s refreshing to know he has this attitude, and it’ll be interesting to see how it playing time is split up between C, DH and possibly 1B from time to time – it’ll be Ron’s decision.
    Napoli had this to say regarding Ron’s decision, “You don’t know what Wash will do.  We have guys who can play different positions. I love catching. I love being back there working with pitchers. But if I have to play first base, I’m not going to be mad. I want to be in the lineup. If it’s at first base, I’ll grab my glove and get out there.”
  • Finally, Napoli spoke about his recent contract (1 year/$9.4M) from the Rangers saying, “Hopefully we’ll get back to talking again.   We’ll see. I’m not focused on that. If it comes up, my agent will talk about it with them. Right now, I’m focused on getting ready for the season and get[ting] my ankle healthy.  From the raises I got compared to other players, it was right for me.  I really didn’t want to go into a hearing room. Talking to people who have been through it, it’s not a fun situation. I’m glad we got a deal done and hopefully something else will get worked out.”

Matt Harrison

  • Matt Harrison is coming into camp with a similar outlook to Mike Napoli as he prepared to secure a spot in the starting rotation.  While Harrison’s numbers from 2011 (14-9 with a 3.39 ERA) would seem to more than secure him that spot, it speaks to the depth the Rangers have in their rotation heading into 2012.
  • Tuesday Morning SlidersHarrison said “It’s the same way as last year: I’m coming in to fight for a spot in the rotation.  Last year was last year. I can’t take anything for granted. I’ve got to show them I’m ready to go. This is an organization that has been to the World Series for the last two years. They are not going to fool around with somebody who is not ready to go.”
  • Jasen and I covered the starting rotation extensively in the podcast last night, and it’s known that the Rangers are going to stretch out Scott Feldman and Alexi Ogando.  Harrison will have to earn his spot, but seems to be the favorite headed into the competition.
  • Roy Oswalt still hasn’t signed anywhere…, to which Harrison says “Nobody has said anything to me about that.  I guess he is still waiting around. It keeps me guessing. It keeps me ready and prepared.”

Ian Kinsler

  • Kinsler, who spoke to reporters on Sunday at the Rangers Spring Training complex, spoke vaguely about Josh Hamilton’s recent relapse, “Josh is taking care of it.  He’s doing what he’s always done. He’s being open, up front and honest about it. It’s not my place to talk about it. I know I was there for a certain part of the night.”
    Kinsler added ”I’ve gotten over it.  I’m focused on this season and baseball. I support Josh and will continue to support him. All his teammates and coaches will be there for him. Josh took care of it and said what he needed to say. People can say what they want to say. That’s just outside influences driving something that’s really not there.”
  • Kinsler is in Surprise early to work out with the strength and conditioning coaches, which he is able to do pain free after after receiving a platelet-rich-plasma injection in his right ankle at the end of November.  This is the same right ankle that he injured two years ago in Spring Training.
    Kinsler had to this say regarding the relief he got from the shot and what it’s allowed him to do in his work outs, “Right away, after the soreness went away from the needle, I was 100 percent,” Kinsler said.  End of pain.  It helped everything. Working in the cage, I can take as many swings as I want. I have been able to do a lot more full-body exercises … a lot of jumping and agility. That’s when it hurt the most, but now I haven’t been feeling it at all.”
  • Kinsler, who is signed through 2012 and the Rangers have an option on for 2013 ($10M), spoke briefly about his contract and talks with the Rangers, saying ”I think I’ve been open with my feelings on that.  I want to stay here, but again, a lot of that is up to them. We’ll see how things progress. We’ll see if the conversations get fired up again this spring.  This season hasn’t even started yet.  They have some decisions to make as an organization.”
    Kinsler wrapped it up saying “There might be some things they want to talk about.  I haven’t thought about it. I’m focused on playing second base, winning a Gold Glove and helping this team win. That’s all open for discussion.”

Quick Hits

  • Tuesday Morning SlidersAlbert Pujols and Yu Darvish have already run into each other for the first time!  The meeting was unplanned and the Angels slugger said “He walked in and introduced himself — really nice guy, really humble.  He just said he’s looking forward to the battle. We’re going to be in the same division and it’s going to be fun.”
    Look at Yu already getting in his head…
  • Richard Justice (MLB.com) wrote a column on Nolan Ryan’s feelings about this years Rangers here.
  • The Rangers have signed left-handed reliever Neal Cotts to a Minor League contract.  T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) provides a brief update here.
  • Evan Grant (SportsDay DFW) is projecting 13 wins and a sub 4 ERA for Yu Darvish this season.
  • MLB Analyst Jim Bowden joined Ben & Skin (103.3FM, ESPN) last week and had this to say about ranking the Rangers as the top MLB team for the next 5 years, “The bottom line was the Rangers’ farm system is far beyond what the Yankees’ is, and that to me was really the swing between the two. Texas’ management team is one of the best in the game, but when you look at the entire package, there is no reason why this Texas team can’t be a World Series contender over the next five years. You look at the health of the Rangers compared to every team in baseball, and right now, it’s No. 1 in the industry.”
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Feb 082012
 
  • Wednesday Morning CurveballsThe Rangers and Elvis Andrus will avoid arbitration as the two sides reached an agreement last night on a 3 year contract worth $14-15M.  The contract is pending a physical.  Elvis would have been up for arbitration after the next two seasons as well, so this contract will eliminate that.  Elvis will be eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.  Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) provides some more background on Elvis here if interested.
  • If you missed the Part 1 of American League West Position Showdown, check it out to see where Elvis stacks up against his peers.
  • Next up – Mike Napoli and Nellie Cruz
  • The Rangers have hired Shayne Kelley to be Josh Hamilton’s accountability partner.  Kelley, a longtime college baseball assistant coach and former coach in the Royals’ system, will also serve as a Major League staff assistant for the Rangers.
    Jon Daniels had this to say regarding Kelley and the search, “We talked to a few people, but Shayne was at the top of our list.  We had more interest in this position from people reaching out all over the country than all other positions combined since I have been here.”
    Kelley accompanied Hamilton to New York on Monday to meet with doctors from MLB and the Players Union.
    T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) covered the story with some additional detail here.
  • Mitch Moreland reports that he is feeling great after his off-season wrist surgery in November.
    Moreland says “Going into Spring Training, I’ll be in some kind of routine, but I don’t think there will be many limitations.  They said we’ll go on how I feel. If I feel good, we’ll keep going through it. That’s going to be for me to find out. Nobody will know until we get there but me. Right now I’m feeling good.  I know it’s going to be better than last year.  It was pretty bad the last month. There were days that I would go into the [indoor batting] cage, I’d just come out for batting practice, take two, three, four swings and see how I feel. We got through it.”
    This is great news for the Rangers and Mitch as he looks to take the next step in his progression.
  • The Rangers have released their Spring Training broadcast schedule.  There will be a good amount of coverage, with 10 games on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, 10 games on local television and 10 free audio webcasts at texasrangers.com. You can check out the full schedule here.
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