After a long winter, pitchers and catchers finally arrive in Surprise, Ariz. on Wednesday.
To get ready for another spring, here’s 10 things to know as 2018 spring training kicks off…
The Rangers’ spring facility is about 25 miles northwest of Phoenix, and they will share the complex with the Kansas City Royals.
From MLB.com on Surprise Stadium: “Surprise Stadium features a variety of seating options from grass seating areas in the outfield to club seats on the stadium’s second level. The stadium is handicap accessible and is served by nearby parking areas and a variety of concessions.”
“Field dimensions of Surprise Stadium are 350 feet down the lines, 379 feet in the power alleys and 400 feet to center field.”
Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 14 with the rest of the team joining them on Feb. 19.
Their first game is Feb. 24 vs. Yu Darvish’s new squad, the Chicago Cubs. The team won’t return to Arlington until their exhibition games scheduled for Mar. 26-27 at Globe Life Park.
Number of pitchers who started a game for the Rangers last season: 11
Number of those pitchers still on the roster: 4
Number of those pitchers in the opening-day-rotation running: 2? And that’s being generous.
There’s been some turnover, and it all started with dealing away Yu Darvish last July.
Heading into spring training, Cole Hamels is the only bona-fide starter from last season who is penciled in on the opening day roster. Martin Perez is still here, but after a December run in with a bull back home in Venezuela, it seems unlikely he will be around for Game No. 1. The only other returning “starters” from last year are spot-starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx and 2017’s utility arm Alex Claudio.
For 2018, the Rangers have toyed with the idea of a six-man rotation to help extend the life of pitchers’ arms into the latter months of the season, an idea that could assist the veteran arms of team newcomers Bartolo Colon, Matt Moore, Doug Fister, and Jon Niese – as well as Texas’ reliever-turned-starter spring projects of Mike Minor and Matt Bush.
As far as Nos. 1-5 (and possibly six) in the rotation are concerned, there’s much left to be decided.
One of the game’s best bullpens turned into one of its most unreliable in the span of a year from 2016 to 2017. So, what’s in store for 2018?
Many of the same names are in place – Diekman, Claudio, Kela, Leclerc, etc.
But with the potential subtraction of Matt Bush to the rotation, the Rangers have added Seung Hwan Oh, who has served as the St. Louis Cardinals closer for much of the last two seasons, and Chris Martin, a hometown product returning from Japan. (Former Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson will be in camp, too.)
Robinson Chirinos is the No. 1.
But a slightly injury-filled career has limited him to never playing more than 93 games in a season. The list of names to watch in Surprise when it comes to who claims the backup role – Brett Nicolas, Jose Centeno, and (just for prospect-watching fun) Jose Trevino.
Last season, seven different pairs of cleats roamed around first base at one time or another for the Rangers.
The plan, at least right now, is for that spot to belong to Joey Gallo in 2018.
Because of his power and injuries that surrounded him, Gallo roamed around the field on defense last season in order to keep his bat in the lineup. He started at least 18 games in three different positions (1B, 3B, and LF).
Unlike first base, the outfield is yet to find such potential continuity when it comes to day-to-day lineups.
Similar to last spring when the names Gallo, Ryan Rua, and Jurickson Profar circled around the left field job, the position remains a question mark.
This year’s contenders: Rua, Willie Calhoun, Drew Robinson, Profar (unlikely) and Gallo (even more unlikely).
Aside from Martin Perez and the bull…
The Rangers are relatively healthy heading into spring training.
Another section of the organization where many of the names are the same, but there were a few offseason additions that could help streamline the communication between Jeff Banister and his players.
The Rangers weren’t the only team in the division making moves this winter (Shohei Ohtani did sign with the Angels over the Rangers, after all…).
Here’s a look at some notable additions other AL West teams have made.
|Signed||RHP Yusmeiro Petit|
|Traded for||Cardinals RF Stephen Piscotty, Royals DH Brandon Moss, LHP Ryan Buchter|
Los Angeles Angels
|Signed||RHP Shohei Ohtani, SS Zack Cosart|
|Traded for||Tigers 2B Ian Kinsler, Braves RP Jim Johnson|
|Signed||RHP Joe Smith, RHP Hector Rondon|
|Traded for||Pirates SP Gerrit Cole|
|Traded for||Marlins 2B/CF Dee Gordon|
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