Day two of Spring Training saw the Rangers take on the Colorado Rockies. Day Two of Spring Training might as well also be called, “Day One, Part Two,” as another round of players made their first impressions. Still, we saw some familiar faces and some exciting developments.
Also, the Rangers defeated Colorado 4-2 if you're into Spring Training final scores.
On the Mound:
Matt Bush is trying to be the sixth Ranger to attempt a conversion from an effective reliever to a usable starter. His transition into this new role is part of the reason that Texas is leaning towards a six-man rotation. Whatever frames he pitches are out of his control, but the stuff that Bush could control, namely, his performance on the hill, he controlled well. Bush gave the Spring Rangers two scoreless innings, marked by an especially impressive second inning. In that, he gave up a leadoff triple (almost homer) to Trevor Story. Bush was able to escape any damage with a strikeout, a nifty “infield in” fielder’s choice by Joey Gallo to nail Story at home, and a grounder to short. 28 pitches wrapped up his day, and Bush had himself a great start to his Spring.
Paolo Espino? Paolo Espino! Following two other impressive one-inning outings from Ricky Rodriguez and Erik Goeddel, Espino, who debuted with Texas last season, made a stellar case to put himself in the Opening Day bullpen mix. He faced the minimum six batters over two innings and struck out five of them. In a relief corps that might only contains five arms, only one spot is likely up for grabs. Jake Diekman, Keone Kela, Tony Barnette and Alex Claudio are virtual locks. Espino looks like he wants to start with the big boys.
At the Dish:
Twice. That’s how many times Rougned Odor walked on Sunday afternoon. Not only that, they were in back-to-back appearances! Known for being over-aggressive at the plate, seeing Odor take some close pitches (ones that were usual swings for the second baseman) has to be encouraging. Rougie hit leadoff and I would expect to see him continue to hit more towards the top of the lineup, at least in Spring Training. The more reps that he can get to practice his patience, the better.
Future Cactus League Hall of Famer Ryan Rua, battling to be the Opening Day left fielder again, recorded the Rangers’ first RBI of Spring with an opposite field double (almost homer). Much like Profar the day before, Rua’s going to have to show not only the ability to hit the ball the other way, but the ability to hit same-sided pitching. On the radio call, Jared Sandler gave Rua the dubious title, “Mr. Spring Training.” Over his career in Spring Training, Rua is a .346/.380/.582 hitter. In a way, that’s going against the 27-year old. The Rangers know what Rua can do in Spring Training. Is there anything that he can do differently to make them think he can carry that over to the regular season?
In the Field:
Even if Hanser Alberto’s hamstring tweak from the Cactus League opener was “nothing,” it certainly puts him a little more behind the 8-ball than he was previously. If the Rangers need a defensively-minded middle infielder, they don’t have to look much further than Gold Glove Winner Darwin Barney. What Barney showed on Sunday certainly would encourage those who might worry about what happens if Odor doesn’t bounce back like they hope. Barney’s defensive display started with a nifty pick and throw to end the first and handled several more chances while he was still in the game.
Rua may have the edge defensively as a left field candidate, but Willie Calhoun’s sole intent during this Spring Training is to show that he’s more than just a bat. The key piece in the Yu Darvish trade (another gimmick I’m sure Calhoun wants to shake) came into the game to replace Rua and more than adequately held his own in the field. With a bat, Calhoun drove in another of the Rangers’ runs, but on defense, he showed some great instincts by chasing down a long foul ball.
On the Bench:
It’s no secret that some of the Minor League kids that we’ve been watching for so long could finally make their way onto the Big League team in 2018. While it probably won’t happen if the team is in contention, the odds are that the team won’t be in the hunt by the time September rolls around. Sunday's contest against the Rockies saw the “2nd Line” for Texas responsible for the first crooked number of the Spring. Andy Ibanez, Calhoun, Yanio Perez and Jose Trevino had an enjoyable bottom of the 6th, once the regulars vacated the field.
It stands to reason that the “Minor League” part of Spring Training games could be more interesting and meaningful than seeing the Major Leaguers perform. While Jon Daniels and the Rangers’ front office maintain that they intend to contend for the playoffs this season, the team, on paper, just looks inferior to the rest of the competition. All of that adds up to a greater chance for those like Ronald Guzman, Trevino, Jose Cardona and others to eventually get the call to The Show and those seeds are sown in Surprise.
Do you think Matt Bush can make the transition to the starting rotation? Share your thoughts with Matt on Twitter @FisherWritesMLB.