Arlington - As they head to spring training predictions for the Rangers are not promising. The team coming off only it's second losing season 2009, and you won't find anyone picking the Rangers to do much better this season.
An aging ace leading a questionable rotation, and a lineup not nearly as potent as it has been, means no respect. Surpassing meager expectations is the mission, and that's where our conversation starts with Rangers manager Jeff Bannister.
Joe Trahan: I've heard your plays talk about the run-up to this season. They've talked about proving people wrong, and being the underdog, and sneaking up on people. I'm curious how you will handle that as you get into spring training, and what the message will be in terms of that role, and the outside expectations of your team?
Bannister: I hear the hunger and the drive, that, look, it was a challenging season for us last year in a number of ways, no excuses. However, when I hear what these guys are telling me, it's one voice. It is us against everybody else.
The checklist for an improbable run: young players like Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, and Rougie Odor need to make significant development leaps And reclamation mound projects Doug Fister, Matt Moore and others need big bounce-back seasons.
Bannister: Inside they're got that drive that says I'm still a viable major league pitcher. We have to get their mindset back to what made them successful and stick to it.
Trahan: What will winning look like for this team this season? How will you define success?
Bannister: For me, it's does that young group take a significant step forward? Does that pitching corp get back on track of dominating the strike zone. We have to be collectively stubborn as a group to stay focused on playing a simple brand of baseball. And play like there hair's on fire.
Trahan: Did you just give me a preview of how you're going to start off things in Surprise? Was last a little bit of a preview? (laughter)
Bannister: Might have been a little bit there. (laughter)