Well, it’s 85 degrees out and there are little white baseballs bouncing around a big green yard. Sure, the baseball season is famously long, but the off-season seems a little longer, somehow. Consider that the last time we had a Rangers game in this park, it was October 7th, which was nearly half a year ago. Today’s game doesn’t count for anything, just like the 31 Cactus League games before it, but it *feels* more real in these familiar surroundings.
As I write, the Rangers are taking batting practice on the field at Globe Life Park. By the time these words find their way to the internet and into your eyes, the gates will have been open, and the music will be playing. Autographs will have been signed, and heroes will have been met.
And perhaps we will have more details on the first controversy of the season.
It’s the March 31st Baseball Texas Daily!
1. Keone Kela, expected to be a major contributing factor to the Rangers vaunted bullpen in 2017, won’t be in Arlington on Opening Day. He has been optioned to AAA to start the season. “One of our competitive advantages-- maybe our biggest competitive advantage is our clubhouse culture, the atmosphere.” Jon Daniels explained today. “The family that is our organization. And sometimes when things happen in families, you need a little time to address them. And that’s what’s happened here, so we’re going to option him down. That does not change how we feel about him short- medium- , or long-term. I have a lot of faith in him as a pitcher and as a young man, and I expect he’ll be back with us, hopefully he’ll be back with us at some point going forward, but that’s the move we’ve decided to make today.”
Daniels declined to say what happened, other than to confirm that the demotion was not performance-based. He referred to Kela as “one of the most talented relievers in the game, quite frankly” but would not provide any further details as to the incident that led to the demotion. “It’s something that we don’t want to get into the details of, we want it to stay within the confines of the clubhouse and our family, but we felt this was appropriate at this time.”
As for a timeline for evaluation and return, Daniels said that there was a plan for that, but not one that he was willing to put forward publicly. “I don’t want to put out a report card or anything like that… it’s been addressed internally, and we’ll keep it that way.”
2. Jeff Banister spoke a bit on the matter as well, and how his absence will affect the bullpen.
“Obviously, we all know the talent that Keone has, and what he’s been able to do for us. It has given us and some other guys out there an opportunity at this time to… will we use certain guys differently? What I will say is that Sam Dyson is our closer, and–I think you know the rest of the statement I’m getting ready to say–the rest of those guys will be used as we feel like they are best used in certain situations. I think we are a very talented club; I think one thing that JD and the scouts and the FO has been able to do is put together some really good depth for us. So we have a group of guys out there that know how to pitch meaningful innings, and they know what it feels like to pitch in those stressful innings at the back of the game. So at this point, we’ll go with the group of guys that we feel are best suited to get the outs that we need them to get.”
3. Dillon Gee, who exercised his opt-out around midnight on the night of March 29th, announced today that he and the team were in the late stages of coming to an agreement to keep him in the organization. He will start the season in the Round Rock rotation. “The end result is I’m staying, and I’m happy with what’s going to happen, and I think it’s good for everybody.”
Gee said that starting or relieving wasn’t a big factor in his decision, and that he was willing to do either. He said he tried not to let wanting to stay in Texas factor too much into the decision, but that staying home was a nice bonus.
Jon Daniels also spoke about the decision to keep Gee around: “We all know we’re going to need pitching help. We don’t know when, we don’t know what the reason will be, but we expect he’ll give us a pretty good option.”
“(There are) no guarantees of a call up, or exactly when,” Daniels allowed. “The plan, once it’s finalized, would be a MLB contract, but we would be able to option him, so he will be on the 40 man. Once you’re on the MLB roster, there are no formal opt-outs, but the spirit of the deal is once we get to a certain point in the season and (being in the minor leagues) is not going to be a short-term look for him, we would look to accommodate him (and allow him to pursue Major League opportunities elsewhere)”
4. INJURY UPDATE: Adrian Beltre ran (testing calf). Scheppers is seeing Dr. Prescott for a 2nd opinion (peace of mind). Working to finalize deal with Dillon Gee (expected to be done in time for 48hr).
5. ROSTER UPDATE: The team hasn't announced how Kela's demotion will affect the makeup of the big league roster, but did confirm that Anthony Bass and Allen Webster will be in the rotation in Round Rock to start the season, meaning that neither of them exercised their opt-outs.
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