And so, with an Humberto Arteaga ground out to Brady Dragmire, the Texas Rangers put a period on a sentence that began “Pitchers and Catchers report…” Spring Training is over, there is one more off-day for the team to grow accustomed to the faces they will and will not continue to see in the locker room, and then the wrapper will be taken off and the shiny new season will glow at us with all its new hope. Good, good.
The final score of the final game of Spring Training is the strangest and most instantaneous reminder of the fleeting nature of these things: as soon as the 5-3 score became final, it also became obsolete, though if there is one small prize to be taken, it is that the Rangers, who started Cactus League play by losing something like 100 games in a row (let’s arbitrarily choose their 2-10-1 mark) managed to claw back and finish with a record of 17-16-3.
Today’s starting pitcher was Allen Webster, and he laid to waste and ruin the Royals’ lineup, allowing just a lonesome single and a walk in his four innings of work. He also struck out one. Anthony Bass followed, and aside from a home run by Drew Butera that cleared all but the last row of the first level of left field seats, he was also effective, throwing two innings, striking out two, and allowing only two hits (the other was a single).
As for the Rangers’ offense, it was in keeping with both last night and last season: it all happened pretty suddenly, and then went away again. Today (like last night) it was the second inning where most of the damage was done. With one out, and the Rangers already leading 1-0 (In the first inning, Delino DeShields singled / stole second / advanced to third on an error by the catcher, and scored on a Carlos Gomez sac fly) Ryan Rua hit a line drive that just kept hanging in the air, staying aloft juuuuust long enough to tip off the top of the center fielder’s glove and bounce to the wall for a double.
Royals starter Jason Hammel fell apart a little after that. He hit Joey Gallo with a pitch, and walked Elvis Andrus. With the bases now loaded, DeShields raised everyone’s hopes by cracking a ball that sent Alex Gordon sprinting with his numbers facing home plate. But he managed to get under it just in time to turn a would-be double into a sac fly. No matter - Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Gomez both doubled, and just like that, it was 5-0, which is where–save for that Butera home run–it would stay until the ninth inning.
By then, the beat writers were playing a game of “Construct a team out of MLB players whose last names are also a city,” inspired by Al Alburquerque (I only noticed today that his name contains an R that the city’s does not, but he was allowed anyway). There is roster construction talk to be had in the rest of this article, but it won’t be the Reggie Jackson-led one we pieced together while Brady Dragmire was allowing a couple of runs in the 9th to bring the final tally to 5-3.
Game over, Game on.
1. Mike Hauschild made the Opening Day roster. He was told about the decision just ten minutes or so after we talked to him and I wrote this article.
2. Also announced as members of the Opening Day Roster today: Joey Gallo, Drew Robinson, Jose Leclerc, and Dario Alvarez. Video below.
3. Nine players will open the season on the disabled list:
Chi Chi Gonzalez
10-day DL (retroactive to Thursday)
4. Of course, the most notable name there is Adrian Beltre. The future Hall of Fame third baseman is not one to take a DL stint unless it’s necessary, and he has often come off the DL with absolutely no warning, simply proclaiming himself ready before a game. Of course, that usually happens in the middle of a season, manager Jeff Banister reminded us. All parties have downplayed the severity of the calf tweak, saying things like “not long” and “I don’t foresee it being a long stint”, and making reference to not wanting to make a mistake in the short-term that would cost them in the long-term.
I’m no wizard or mage. I have no crystal ball. All I know is what I’m told, and what I’ve seen from Beltre in the past, which means that as soon as he’s able, he’ll be back on the field. Beyond that… congratulations to the Rangers Opening Day starting Third Baseman Joey Gallo.