It seems like just yesterday that we were over-the-moon for the phrase “pitchers and catchers report”, but now here we are in late March, having been given the taste of meaningful baseball by the World Baseball Classic, unable to even watch the games on TV the last couple of days. So one might be forgiven for checking their watch, subtly flaring their hands and mouthing to Baseball “can we get on with it, already?”
Ahh, but there are a few things left to settle. The Rangers beat the Rockies 4-3, and there were a few chocolate chips to be salvaged out of the Today’s Score Still Doesn’t Matter cookie. Let’s lay them out here:
1. Delino DeShields is on fire. Today, he led off (all four at-bats led off innings, actually), and went 2-for-4 with a single and a hustling double. Whereas the expectation for most of the Spring was “Carlos Gomez will hit leadoff and left field will be Profar/Rua/DeShields, the last week may have changed that. It's entirely possible he Rangers have found their leadoff hitter, and he may have arrived in a time machine from 2015.
2. If that’s the case, You’re looking at Ryan Rua (OF/1B) and Jurickson Profar (everywhere) as your first two bench guys, and while the team has indicated that they don’t want Joey Gallo or Drew Robinson sitting on the bench when they could instead be getting every day at-bats in the minor leagues, it appears that at least one of them will make the team on Opening Day (unless Texas signs another Utility-type… Munenori Kawasaki was released by the Cubs today…). Today, Robinson and Gallo hit third and fourth in the lineup, like some kind of roster spot standoff. Neither blinked:
Robinson went 2-for-3 with a walk, a run, and an RBI. In the 7th, the only time he was retired, he struck out to end an 11-pitch at-bat. The following pitch was launched over the wall by Gallo, who ended his day 2-for-4 with 2 runs and 2 RBI. Each lefty struck out once. You’re very likely to get a chance to see both of these guys this weekend when the Rangers wrap up Spring Training by playing the Royals Friday night and Saturday afternoon at Globe Life Park
3. A.J. Griffin allowed 2 runs (both on a Mark Reynolds home run in the 4th inning), but ended his day going 5⅓ innings, allowing 6 hits, striking out two and walking three. Two of the walks were in the first inning, and while it’s not a line you’d be excited about from your staff ace, it’s not bad for a noted fly-ball pitcher on an afternoon where the wind was blowing out to center field. Griffin threw 86 pitches, and looks pretty well ready to put on his Ranger whites.
4. Mike Hauschild came on in relief and threw 2⅔ innings, giving up three hits, striking out 3 and walking just one. Hauschild is, unless I am badly mistaken, going to be the Rangers’ long reliever come April 3rd.
5. There were quite a few roster moves made today, chief among them was the assigning of A.J. Jimenez and yesterday’s starter Allen Webster. Webster has an opt-out clause today, but there has as of yet been no announcement about whether he would choose to stay with the club or not.
6. Also among today’s roster moves, a few Minor League players were released:
- C/IF/OF Alex Burg
- RHP Anthony Carter
- LHP Felix Carvallo
- OF/C Joe Jackson
- RHP Ryan Ledbetter
- LHP Jeff Malm
- RHP Storm Rynard
- INF Seth Spivey
- INF Alberto Triunfel
Burg is 29, and has spent time in the Giants and Marlins organizations, and came to Texas in March of 2015. Ledbetter was one of the brothers drafted by the Rangers in 2013. His brother, David, will break camp with the Frisco Roughriders. You can see a full list (so far) of the minor-league rosters here.
Minor league releases are just about the saddest part of any Spring Training. You hear about the success stories of players who work their whole life and make the big leagues… for some of these guys, these cuts will represent the end of that dream. Minor league life is hard, sometimes requiring players to live as many as nine to a house, and sleeping on an air mattress, or in a walk-in closet, and–save for those who received a big bonus–being paid a pittance, all in hopes of one day making it.
All the best to these guys.