It’s easy to harp on “Spring Training scores don’t matter” when your team is losing.
Today, however (while the score still didn’t matter), the Rangers passed the eye test with greater alacrity than recent games. After what seemed like a week without a hard hit ball, the Rangers came out Friday afternoon and hammered pitch after pitch from Hisashi Iwakuma and the trail of Mariners that followed in his wake.
Even the outs were scorched. Carlos Gomez, Drew Robinson and Joey Gallo each hit their first home runs of the season (Gomez and Robinson also added doubles), Ryan Rua and Mike Napoli each had gappers for doubles (though Rua was thrown out trying to stretch his into a triple) and the Rangers finished the day with twelve hits.
But none of that was the story of the day. After being tactfully evasive this morning about his health status, Adrian Beltre surprised us all when it was announced that he would be in the lineup today. Beltre had missed all of the Cactus League games thus far with a calf strain he suffered on February 14th.
His status for the World Baseball Classic has been (and continues to be) in limbo: he told us today that he was “50/50”, and probably wouldn’t know tomorrow either, as he was going to give it a day to see how he felt the day after his first game action. More on that below, but in the meantime there are still a few other details to give you from this game.
The offense wasn’t the only aspect of the game that looked good today. The only pitcher to allow a run was the winning pitcher, Connor Sadzeck, who blew a 2-run lead by allowing three hits (including a home run) and a walk to go with his one strikeout in 2 innings. Allen Webster, Alex Claudio, Jose Leclerc, Brady Dragmire, and starter Tyler Wagner all put up zeroes. Wagner’s clean slate was partially thanks to the third branch of goodness today: the defense.
In the first inning, after a Jarrod Dyson single, and a Robinson Cano walk, the Mariners had two on with one out. Wagner struck out Nelson Cruz swinging, but the next batter, Kyle Seager, hit a ball up the middle to the left side of second base. Rougned Odor reacted well and covered a lot of ground to get to the ball, but was in shallow center field by the time his glove vacuumed up the ball. With no chance to get Seager at first, Odor righted himself and fired the ball home in a hurry. The heads-up play forced the speedy Dyson to halt his progress and return to third base. With the bases now loaded, Wagner got Danny Valencia to fly out to left field to end the inning.
“Very. Very (instinctive),” Banister said later of the play. “But instincts come from preparation. I talk about ‘running that computer’; that rolodex of information. Where the runners are at, what’s the situation, do you have an out there? There’s no way he was gonna throw the runner out at first. It’s a great non-out. We talk about eliminating runs, keeping the base in order… he didn’t try to do too much on a play, just got it to the catcher. Lucroy made a nice play on it that made the base coach stop the runner. If we don’t make a play there, that’s a run… it’s probably two runs.”
OTHER BASEBALL STUFF
1. Beltre and WBC: The future Hall of Famer wants to play for the Dominican Republic. That much is obvious. But he isn’t quiiiite ready to make the call whether he’s going to go play in the WBC or stay home. The determining factor is, of course, the calf. And for awhile, it seemed a possibility that he might skip the first round to get healthy and join the D.R. in round two. But Beltre told us that he learned today that was not allowed (unless someone else on the team is injured).
Thus–after getting approval from Dr. Keith Meister–his name magically found its way into today’s lineup: “I needed to get out there to see how I felt before I make a decision,” he said after the game. “There’s no doubt I need to play maybe one or two more games before I leave, if I’m going to go, and know exactly where I’m at.
One strong possibility is that Beltre could miss team workouts and join his countrymen in time for the first game on March 9th (Beltre was originally scheduled to depart on Sunday, March 5th) “It’s not final, but that’s what we’re thinking about doing,” he admitted.
There is one other possibility: “They can play down one man short, but I don’t know if they want to do that. It’s an option, I can go with them maybe the 7th, 8th or 9th but not play, and just be with them, getting treatment and getting better, and actually join in the second round if I’m not ready. But that means they’ve got to play with one [less]. It’s a different scenario.”
“It’s 50/50,” Beltre concluded. Then after a night of rest, “I’m gonna wake up tomorrow, and it’s gonna be 50/50, and probably the next day, it will be 51/49. Probably. I’ll let you know.”
Here is video of Beltre talking about how his calf felt today during the game.
2. Tyson Ross / Andrew Cashner: Cashner saw Dr. Meister today as well, but we haven’t heard any updates yet. Stay tuned tomorrow morning. Ross, however, threw off a half mound, and a little earlier than most of us initially expected when camp started (though it was announced yesterday). Ross did not speak to the media afterwards, but Bullpen Coach Brian Holman did. “(The half-mound) is not really a goal so much as just (a way to) gradually progress into the steep slope. Get him off the flat ground, get him on that half mound, it’s a little bit different, the ground doesn’t come up as quick. It’s just a progression.”
Asked about what’s next, Holman was positive but patient: “Where Tyson’s at it’s not so much about evaluating his execution as much as him just building his arm strength. Right now it’s about him growing in that regard. He did really well with that today. What I don’t want him to do is get caught up trying to execute too much where he’s not able to let it go and feel comfortable. Because it’s a medical thing, it may not be as quick a progression as a normal spring training guy would be, but there’ll definitely be a progression forward, for sure.”
3. The team wore Jake Diekman’s “Gut it out” T-shirts today. I have a more full-length article and video on Jake coming up this weekend, but in the meantime, if you want one of the shirts, they’re available here. It’s a limited time run, too. These particular shirts are only available until March 6th.
4. That’s kind of ...it? Today was all about Adrian Beltre. There were no free throws today
5. Tomorrow’s scheduled pitchers: Chi Chi Gonzalez, Tanner Scheppers, Jeremy Jeffress, Yohander Mendez, Ariel Jurado.
You can follow Levi Weaver on Twitter at @ThreeTwoEephus, or for fewer puns and more straight-forward Baseball News updates, you can follow us at @BaseballTX, or download the app and get in-game updates and notifications by clicking on the logo below!