Tagged: Tommy Hunter

Cautious excitement

Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training in just 2 days, and I’m excited for the Rangers to start getting some of this confusion sorted out!

At the time of my last post, it seemed as if a Michael Young trade was going to happen immediately. Wrong.

Michael still hasn’t been traded, most likely because of the hefty salary that accompanies him. And it’s starting to look more and more like a trade won’t happen.

So I guess that’s kinda good, because it means that the Rangers won’t have a hole in their lineup. But it means that Michael is stuck in a role where he’s not happy.

He could get traded during Spring Training, though. A lot of stuff happens during those 6 weeks.

And I don’t even have to cite examples from multiple years in order to prove that point. Last year should be sufficient.

Players will get injured, putting their spot on the team in jeopardy. Remember what happened to Salty, Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, and Ian Kinsler during Spring Training last year?

Players who we thought would be shoe-ins for a particular position will surprise us by underperforming. Remember Khalil Greene from last year? Or the idea of Neftali Feliz as a starter for 2010?

Other players will surprise us by performing way above expectations. See C.J. Wilson, who emerged from Spring Training as one of the top 2 starters on the team. That was something I definitely did not expect!

We traded for several players during Spring Training, including Matt Treanor and Andres Blanco. They were both instrumental in the Rangers’ success in 2010, especially Treanor.

So it’s still possible that Michael Young could get traded after Spring Training starts. You never know. I just hope that if a trade does happen, we get a good bat in return who can fill in as our DH.

As the title of this blog entry implies, I’m excited about the beginning of baseball activities in 2011, but I’m still nervous.

Last year, I was worried. We had gaping holes at utility infielder and catcher, and we thought we had an abundance of pitching.

The holes were filled well by Andres Blanco, Matt Treanor, and Bengie Molina, but our pitching faded quickly. Luckily we were able to trade for Cliff Lee, and we actually made it to the World Series!

This year we seem to be lacking a true ace, and our team captain isn’t happy and is asking for a trade. Again, it’s not looking good.

But perhaps these issues will be resolved and we’ll be back in the World Series in 2011! There’s no way to know what the future has in store.

Spring Training is a time of endless possibilities, and I’m sure that many of my expectations and predictions will be thrown out the window. But it sure is fun tring to predict what will happen!

You’d better hold on tight, because I have a feeling it’s going to be a bumpy ride!!

Pitchers and catchers report in: 2 days
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Just Say No

A few days ago, I started hearing rumblings about the Rangers and Manny Ramirez. Uh oh…

Last year, the same rumors began to circulate after Manny was put on waivers in late August. I prayed fervently that Manny would stay away. And he went to the Chicago White Sox, so the Rangers escaped unscathed.

I can only wait and hope the same thing happens again this year.

With the signing of Adrian Beltre, something like this was bound to happen. With Michael Young moving to DH/1B, Vladdy was practically guaranteed not to re-sign with the Rangers. Vladdy wants to play every day, and that’s not gonna happen on the Rangers in the near future.

So the Rangers are looking for a big right-handed bat to come off the bench late in games. (They want him to be right-handed because Mitch Moreland is a lefty, and Moreland would be riding the bench if Michael Young was in the game at 1B.)

Jim Thome was a possibility, but he’s a lefty. And he also decided to re-sign with the Twins for 2011, so he’s no longer an option.

There aren’t too many veteran righties left on the market at this point. It’s pretty much down to Vladdy and Manny. And we already know that Vladdy wants a more active role.

{Sigh}

I’m not saying that I won’t root for the Rangers if Manny is playing here, or even that I won’t root for him when he’s up to bat, but I’d rather have someone else.

I used to like Manny. I remember when the Red Sox has their heyday in the early 2000’s (culminating with their World Series win in 2004), and I loved to watch Manny alongside Johnny Damon and Big Papi.

But soon after, I started hearing lots of negative things about Manny. He publicly discussed his displeasure with the BoSox and requested a trade. It was suggested that he was not a team player.

Then during a game in 2008, Manny was shown slapping teammate Kevin Youkilis during a spat in the dugout. He had another altercation with the Red Sox’s traveling secretary, with Ramirez allegedly pushing him to the ground.

He also stopped hustling on the field, and Red Sox fans assumed it was because of his desire to be traded. But it may have had something to do with sore knees. Who knows?

Manny spent most of the next 3 years with the Dodgers, which just caused me to like him even less. I hate the Dodgers. They’re my least favorite NL team, and their my 2nd most hated team in all of baseball (behind the Yankees, of course).

During the 2009 season, Manny was suspended for 50 games because he voilated a drug test. He tested positive for HCG, which is a female pregnancy hormone thought to help reset an athlete’s body after a steroid cycle.

Later in the 2009 season, it was released that Manny had also failed a drug test in 2003.

The Dodgers put him on waivers in late August, and on August 30 of 2010, Manny was claimed by the Chicago White Sox. His performance for them was decidedly lackluster during his 24 games. Now he’s a free agent, and the threat of Manny looms on the horizon.

TR Sullivan reported today that the Rangers, Angels, and Rays are all in the mix for Manny. MLBtraderumors.com agrees, they report that the Rays are also discussing a deal with Johnny Damon. So if the Rays get Damon, does that mean they’ll quit pursuing Manny? {Gulp}

Manny is reportedly very focused on baseball, and he’s had some amazing stats. But if he’s been taking steroids for at least the last 7 years, his accomplishments are greatly diminished.

With all of the stunts he’s pulled in the last decade, I’d just rather not have him in Texas. Period.

In other news, John Rhadigan has been named to replace Josh Lewin as the play-by-play announcer on television. I think I like this, but I won’t be able to give a definitive diagnosis until after I hear him call a few games.

You know who I would love to see calling games on tv? Steve Busby. I love when they bring him in to talk pitching. But he probably would need to be the color guy as opposed to the play-by-play guy.

I love Tom Grieve; he’s a very nice guy and he’s Mr. Ranger. But I would prefer Busby over Greive any day. Can’t you just imagine Buzz and Rhads together?

Well of course you can, because you’ve seen them do pre- and post-game shows together. It would be awesome, I’m telling you.

Maybe some day.

This weekend is the first 2-day Rangers’ Fan Fest, and I’m excited/nervous. It’s at the Arlington Convention Center this year, which is definitely different from having it at the Ballpark. But last year it didn’t get above freezing all day at Fan Fest, and spending most of the day outside was not easy.

So at least we won’t be cold this year. But I’m dreading all the running back and forth. I’ve seen the layout, and it looks like I’m going to be running around or standing in line all day tomorrow. All by myself, because I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. Great.

A crushed pelvis + arthritis + a long time on my feet = lots of pain for Katie. And since it’s a 2-day thing, if I get up on Sunday morning incredibly sore and beat up, I’m screwed. But it’s a new experience, so we’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll bring my cane.

I just need to remember that if I don’t get somebody’s autograph, it’s not the end of the world. I’ll get it later. I shouldn’t push myself too hard, but just try to have fun! Woo hoo!!!

Oh, I just remembered that I hadn’t told you about the autographs I got last weekend. The Rangers Winter Caravan made a stop at the Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco (I LOVE that place!), and there were a lot of guys signing autographs.

For myself: David Murphy, Dave Anderson, Steve Buechele, and Mitch Moreland
For my step-dad Larry: Derek Holland (smeared everywhere unfortunately) and Chuck Greenberg
For my dad: Steve Buechele, Tommy Hunter, and Mitch Moreland

My step-sister Faith went with me, and we had a BLAST! So hopefully this weekend will be more of the same!

Pitchers and catchers report in: 26 days

Ouch!

Oh man, that was painful. I hate feeling that helpless.

Every night that the Rangers play, I’m hoping for a win. It’s never a guarantee. But when your team is up 6-1 going into the 6th inning, you feel like they have a pretty good chance of coming away with the W.

I guess the Rangers forgot that they were playing the Yankees last night. No lead is safe.

Cliff Lee got the start for the Rangers, going up against Javier Vazquez. And Cliff gave a very “Cliff Lee” performance for the first 6 innings. It’s just that we’re used to seeing a very good 8 or 9 innings from Cliff, and last night that didn’t happen.

The Rangers scored first in the bottom of the 1st inning, and then the Yanks even up the score 1-1 in the top of the 4th.

In the bottom of the 4th, Josh Hamilton led off with a double. Two outs later, Josh was still standing on 2nd base when the Yankees decided to intentionally walk David Murphy. I guess they learned their lesson from the night before!

Bengie Molina drew an unintentional walk next, loading the bases. Then Mitch Moreland stepped in and hit a 2-RBI infield single, putting the Rangers up 3-1. Nice!

In the bottom of the 5th, Elvis Andrus led off the inning with a single, followed by another single from Michael Young and a double from Josh Hamilton. 4-1 Rangers, no outs, men on 2nd and 3rd.

Vlad came up next and grounded out. Then Nelson Cruz got a single to load the bases, followed by a 2-RBI single by David Murphy. 6-1 Rangers!

Next came Bengie Molina, who popped out to right field. Nelly made a dumb move after that by trying to tag up at 2nd base and advance to 3rd, but he was out by about 10 feet, ending the inning (and the Rangers’ scoring).

It would have been nice if the rally had been allowed to continue, because as it turns out, 5 runs wasn’t enough of a lead. And the Rangers didn’t score any more runs in the game.

In the 6th inning, Cliff Lee started running into a little bit of trouble. He allowed a lead-off triple to Derek Jeter, and they Jeter was able to score on a wild pitch. 6-2 Rangers.

But Cliff seemed to settle down after that, and he struck out the next 3 batters to end the 6th.

In the bottom of the 7th, Cliff started running into a lot of trouble, which is extremely unusual for him. He allowed a double to Robinson Cano to start off the inning, then he struck out Jorge Posada.

After that, he gave up a single to Austin Kearns. Men on 1st and 3rd, 1 out. If it had been anyone on the mound other than Cliff Lee, Wash probably would have pulled him right there. But Cliff Lee gets a longer leash. As he should.

Then Lance Berkman hit a ground rule double (the ball bounced over the fence), which scored Cano. 6-3 Rangers, men on 2nd and 3rd, one out. The last straw was when Brett Gardner hit a single to center field, allowing Austin Kearns to score.

6-4 Rangers, men on 1st and 3rd, one out. And Cliff Lee was done after 6 1/3 innings.

Darren O’Day came in to strike out Jeter, then Wash brought in Darren Oliver, who struck out Nick Swisher, ending the torturous inning.

But the damage was already done. And it would only get worse.

Frankie Frank came in to pitch the 8th inning, and he immediately gave up a solo home run to Marcus Thames. Just like last night. Only last night it was A-Rod who hit a solo homer to start off the 8th inning.

When is Ron Washington going to realize that this year’s Frank Francisco is not last year’s Frank Francisco?? Yes, he was our closer last year, and a good one at that. But this year, he just doesn’t have it.

Frankie struck out A-Rod next, then he walked Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada back to back. Due to the Rangers’ defensive prowess, they got of of the inning by turning a double play. But the home run Frankie allowed put the score at 6-5 Rangers going into the bottom of the 8th.

We already know that the Rangers didn’t score in the 8th (or 9th), because I said earlier that their 5th inning rally was the last time the Rangers scored for the night. Onto the top of the 9th.

Neftali Feliz came in to pitch (of course), and I was a little scared because of the one-run margin, but not very scared because I knew that even if the Yankees scored, we would still have the bottom of the 9th and even extra innings, if necessary.

Besides, Neftali hadn’t blown a save since May (3 months ago)! No problem, right? Wrong.

Neffy walked the first batter he faced, Lance Berkman. Then he gave up a single to Brett Gardner, followed by a single by Derek Jeter. Jeter’s hit allowed one run to score, tying the game up 6-6.

Nick Swisher was the next batter, and he struck out. He was the last batter that Neftali saw, and Wash opted instead for Alexi Ogando. 6-6, men on 1st and 3rd, one out.

Ogando allowed a single to Marcus Thames, which put the Yankees over the top 7-6. Ogando struck out A-Rod, then there was yet another pitching change.

This time Wash went with Matt Harrison, and he struck out Robinson Cano. Then it was the Rangers turn to… do nothing.

Mariano Rivera come in to pitch the bottom of the 9th, but that wasn’t as scary because the Rangers beat Mo the night before.

Elvis Andrus hit a lead-off triple, which gave the crowd a burst of energy. But unfortunately Elvis had to stand on 3rd base as Michael Young got a shallow fly ball out, and then Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero both grounded out. Game over.

The Rangers are off tonight, and I don’t know if they need it, but I sure do. Even though it was only a 2-game series with the Yankees, both games were emotionally exhausting. I’m excited to watch some mindless television tonight and recuperate.

Something good happened for the Rangers today, though. The Greenberg/Ryan group (Rangers Baseball Express) were officially approved this morning, so the team has actually changed hands! Goodbye, Tom Hicks! Don’t let the screen door hit ya where the good Lord split ya!

Tomorrow night it’s Tommy Hunter (9-1, 3.01 ERA) against the Red Sox Josh Beckett (3-2, 6.21 ERA). According to the numbers, Tommy should dominate, but Josh Beckett has been an excellent pitcher in the past. This season, he’s just missed 2 months because of a back strain.

I remember last year when Tommy Hunter went up against Josh Beckett in Arlington, and Tommy did a beautiful job and ended up getting the win. That was July 21, 2009. Let’s see if he can do it 2 years in a row!

Overall Rangers’ record: 65-48
My Rangers’ record: 13-7
Days ’til my next game: 2

4-game skid & ‘Riders win

me with Duece

Today was the Rangers’ 3rd off-day in a week’s time, and since it was a Monday in which I didn’t have to go to work, I invited my dad to a RoughRiders game. It was really hot, but I had a great time!

First, though, I should address the Rangers’ dismal road record. They have lost their last 4 games in a row, including being swept in Minnesota. If the Rangers want to be taken seriously, they HAVE to start winning on the road.

Colby Lewis, C.J. Wilson, and Derek Holland started the Rangers’ last 3 games, respectively. Colby and C.J. each threw a pretty darn good game, but they couldn’t get enough run support.

I know C.J.’s line for his game didn’t look very good, considering that he gave up 5 earned runs in 6 innings, but his performance was actually a lot better than that. It was good to see the old C.J. again, after his last mediocre start, not to mention his meltdown 2 outings ago.

Derek Holland had to come out after throwing only 43 pitches in Sunday’s game, and he has been placed on the DL. Tommy Hunter will likely be called up to pitch in his place.

The Rangers are going to Chicago next to face the ChiSox, and they would have to sweep them in order to split the road trip. That would be nice, but I’m not counting on it.

Especially since Harden and Feldman are starting the first two games of the 3-game series.

Blake Beavan

Okay, enough about that. Back to the RoughRiders game today! Blake Beavan was on the mound today, and the ‘Riders won 9-6 over the Tulsa Drillers.

We got there at 2:45 for a 4:00 start. I would have liked to get there at 2:00, since I love to get to ballgames early, but it’s a good thing we didn’t get there that early.

Apparently, they don’t open the gates to the general public until 1 hour before the game starts, unlike at the big league parks. And they also don’t let you bring food or coolers inside the ballpark. What??

I thought this was kind of goofy, but hey, whatever. The funniest part was that they handed out little soft-sided coolers on our way out of the ballpark as the give-away item. Tell me if that makes sense.

Josh Leuke

Anyway, the players started warming up and playing catch about half an hour before the game started, and I went down to watch them. Some of them came over to sign autographs for the little kids, so I jumped in there and got 5 autographs!!

Marcus Lemon and Jacob Kaase

Tanner Roark, Brennan Garr, Josh Leuke, Marcus Lemon, and Jacob Kaase. Yes! Each on their own baseball. Great stuff!

As I returned to our seats, I noticed that Dad was talking to 2 people. When I walked up, he said “Katie, I want to introduce you to Blake Beavan’s mother and grandfather.” What?? Awesome!

They were both very sweet, and Michelle (Blake’s mom) gave me a hug before they left to sit in their seats behind home plate. So now, not only did I get a chance to meet Blake last year, but I now know 3 members of his family!

The ballgame started off kind of boring, with no score until the bottom of the 4th inning. But that innings saw 2 home runs by the ‘Riders (one a 3-run homer and one a 2-run shot) along with a bases-clearing double. Yes, the ‘Riders scored 8 runs in the bottom of the 4th inning!

The score was 8-0 for awhile, but Blake gave up 4 runs in the top of the 7th inning. He still had a pretty nice outing, especially considering that his boys gave him an 8-run lead to work with.

The Drillers got another 2 runs in the top of the 8th, but the ‘Riders added on another run somewhere in there.

In the top of the 9th, I went to wait by the ‘Riders dugout to try to get some more autographs. The usher in our section said that I would have an even better chance of getting autographs after the game, especially if the ‘Riders won.

Taylor Teagarden

But nobody stopped to sign any autographs after the game, not even for the numerous kids around me. I thought everybody had left the field to go to the clubhouse when I noticed Taylor Teagarden coming out of the dugout with his bag full of catching equipment.

Since my dad has a much louder voice than I do, I told him to yell “Taylor!” When Taylor looked over at us, I raised the baseball and pen I was holding.

Taylor looked kind of dubious at first, as if he was thinking “Why do they want my autograph?” or something, but he headed over to us.

He signed my ball, but instead of staying to sign some of the kids around me, he just turned around and headed to the clubhouse. I was surprised that he didn’t sign more, but I’m not gonna lie; I felt kinda special that I was the only one to get an autograph!

Okay, that’s about it. Like I said earlier, the Rangers are playing 3 games against the Chicago White Sox starting Tuesday night. Then they’re coming back home for a weekend series against the Rays, and I’m going to Saturday’s game.

I’m excited to go to another Rangers’ game, but it’s gonna be hot. The game was supposed to start at 7:05, but they changed it to a 3:10 start because it’s going to be on national television. Lovely.

Oh well. I need to quit whining. Texas summers are hot, and I have a heck of a lot more games to go to before the summer’s over.

And on the upside, I think Tommy Hunter will be starting on Saturday! Go Rangers!!

My Rangers’ record: 6-3

Overall Rangers’ record: 26-25

Days ’til my next game: 4

Lots o stuff

Wow. Just yesterday I posted my prediction for the Opening Day rotation, but last night I checked TR Sullivan’s blog and found out that I was apparently completely off. The lefties and righties are still interspersed, like I predicted they would be, but their placement does not appear to reflect skill level. Just to recap, this is what I predicted:

Rich Harden (R)
Scott Feldman (R)
Matt Harrison (L)
Colby Lewis (R)
C.J. Wilson (L)

Here’s what Mike Maddux envisions for the 2010 rotation:

Rich Harden (R)
C.J. Wilson (L)
Scott Feldman (R)
Matt Harrison (L)
Colby Lewis (R)

Rich Harden
Both rotations list Rich Harden as the ace. Duh. But everything else is different.
Usually, the starting rotation reflects a pitcher’s skill level. You’ll often hear the terms “top-of-the-rotation pitcher” and “back-of-the-rotation pitcher” when speaking of starters, and it is generally understood that pitchers at the top of the rotation are more skilled than the pitchers at the back of the rotation.

CJ Wilson

C.J. has done an amazing job in Spring Training, and he has a lot of years of experience in professional baseball either as a starter or reliever. But he does not qualify as a No. 2 starter. For Pete’s sake, he’s been competing for a job all Spring Training! Yeah, he’s worked as a starter in the past, but those experiments all failed. Until he proves himself as a starter, he shouldn’t be our No. 2 man. He should be our No. 5 man.
Scott Feldman
Scott Feldman was guaranteed a starting job at the end of the 2009 season. He should be the Rangers’ No. 2 starter. Given, Feldman didn’t begin the 2009 season in the starting rotation, but he was our best pitcher last year. He had a 17-win season! Come on, people!
Colby Lewis
Colby Lewis is the Rangers’ only pitcher with a multi-year contract. He has been tearin’ it up in Japan for the last 2 years. He was guaranteed a spot in the starting rotation in 2010. And Maddux puts him as the No 5 starter??? I had him as the No. 4 starter, but only because I wanted to diversify the rotation with a lefty. As far as talent goes, he should be the No. 3 starter of this Rangers’ rotation.
Matt Harrison
Sure, Matt Harrison spent most of the 2009 season on the DL. But he was one of the Rangers’ starting pitchers on Opening Day in 2009, and he amazed in the Arizona Fall League immediately after the end of the 2009 regular season. Plus, he comes into 2010 a full 30 pounds lighter than he was in 2009. That shows dedication. But we knew Harrison was competing for a spot as a back-of-the-rotation starter, so it doesn’t really hurt my feelings that Maddux lists Harrison as his No. 4 man. I only had him at No. 3 because he’s a lefty.

So, to summarize, I think my rotation is better. But then again, Mike Maddux has a pretty stellar reputation. I mean, look at what he did for the Rangers’ pitching staff in his very first year as pitching coach: he brought the team ERA down a whole run. That’s pretty impressive! I trust his judgement, but there was so way I could let this slide without getting my 2 cents in first.

I would also like to interject here at Evan Grant’s projected starting rotation is identical to mine. Grant came up with his prediction on Monday, March 22, but I looked at it just now, and it looks exactly like mine! I guess great minds think alike! It also goes to prove that my assumptions weren’t completely baseless.

Tommy Hunter

On a related note, Tommy Hunter finally admitted today that he won’t be able to open the season as one of the Rangers’ starters. TR Sullivan predicted this first late last week, almost immediately after his injury last Thursday evening.

Anyway, today Tommy grudgingly admitted that he wouldn’t be ready by Opening Day. But he does think he’ll be ready by April 8, just 3 days later. Wishful thinking?? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

With the starting rotation pretty much figured out, Evan Grant has predicted the following 7 players for the Rangers’ bullpen: RHP Frank Francisco (closer), RHP Neftali Feliz, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Darren O’Day, RHP Brandon McCarthy, RHP Dustin Nippert, and RHP Doug Mathis.

Jamey Newberg thinks it will be RHP Frank Francisco (closer), RHP Neftali Feliz, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Darren O’Day, RHP Dustin Nippert, RHP Doug Mathis, and RHP Chris Ray.

As much as I admire Evan and Jamey, I think the Rangers will need more than one lefty in the bullpen. Darren Oliver is a fabulous pitcher, but I’m not sure he will be able to fill all of the club’s needs for a lefty reliever by himself.

Derek Holland

Derek Holland will almost certainly find himself starting in AAA. The Rangers will want to keep him stretched out as a starter in case he’s needed in the Bigs in 2010. Ben Snyder seems to be the only other viable lefty option, but he has been unimpressive so far in Spring Training. Maybe Jon Daniels will sort through other teams’ “trash piles” and grab another lefty reliever off waivers or the Rule 5 Draft. JD’s always got something up his sleeves. 🙂

Brandon McCarthy
While I agree that Brandon McCarthy is worthy of the big league club, he may prefer to stay a stretched out as a starter down in AAA rather than join the big league ballclub. Doug Mathis can fill the Rangers’ needs for a long reliever/spot starter. And I don’t know anything about Chris Ray, since he was only acquired by the Rangers this off-season (received in the trade for Kevin Millwood).

In other news, the Rangers have made what appears to be a bit of progress in finding a utility infielder. Hernan Iribarren, who was nabbed off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers, cleared waivers with the Rangers today and was outrighted to AAA. So apparently they don’t see Iribarren making the big league club.

Also today, the Rangers announced that they had traded pitcher Edwar Ramirez (recently acquired from the Yankees and rumored to be trade bait) to the Oakland Athletics for infielder Gregorio Petit. Petit’s experience has been primarily at shortstop, which is what the Rangers have been looking for.

This search for a utility infielder has been exhausting. The Rangers will need 2 guys to do what Omar Vizquel (SS/2B/3B) and Hank Blalock (1B) did last year. First there was an almost-trade for Mike Lowell (1st/3rd baseman) in the early off-season, but he failed the physical, so that put the kibosh on those dealings. Then we got Khalil Greene, and it looked like everything was going to be just fine.

Wrong.

The Rangers had an influx of new infielders vying to win the SS/2B job, but they all seemed to be lacking. Joe Inglett, Mitch Hilligoss, Hernan Iribarren, and Erik Morrison joined Esteban German, Joaquin Arias, and Ray Olmedo in the pursuit of a utility infielder for the Rangers. But none of them were a very good fit.

Now that a month of Spring Training has passed, Matt Brown is looking like the frontrunner for the backup 1st/3rd baseman, and he has shown quite a bit of pop in his bat this Spring Training. Could Gregorio Petit be the SS/2B the Rangers have been searching for?

TR Sullivan doesn’t think so. He predicts that Petit will play SS in AAA, now that Ray Olmedo has been traded away. And apparently, the Rangers are still looking at veteran infielders Augie Ojeda (Diamondbacks), Ramon Vazquez (Pirates), Kevin Frandsen (Giants), and Willie Bloomquist (Royals).

Ian Kinsler

Ian Kinsler is planning to get into a Spring Training game next Monday, March 29. This will give him one week to practice in game situations before Opening Day. This sounds great. I just hope Kinsler’s ankle really is okay by Monday, and he doesn’t cause more health problems for himself that end up keeping him out of regular season games. If he does have to miss, I guess we’ll be seeing our newly minted utility infielder sooner than we thought!

 
The only other question remaining for the starting lineup? Catcher. It will be the best/healthiest two out of Salty, Taylor Teagarden, and Matt Treanor. Who knows?

I just know I’m excited for the season to start. Vlad Guerrero in a Rangers jersey!!! SqueeeeEEEEE!!!

12 days ’til Opening Day!!

Oh no!

A few days ago, I spent several hours working on a long blog posting that was mostly about Ron Washington’s drug drama and a little bit about Tommy Hunter’s recent oblique injury which may take him out of the starting rotation.

Normally, blogspot.com saves the post periodically as I write it, so if something happens (like my computer crashes or the electricity goes out or whatever), I can go back to the last automatic save point and not have to start completely over. But somehow, after I finished the post and hit “submit,” it was gone. No previously saved version, no nothing.

Just gone.

So that sucked. It would take me a lot of time and energy to try to recreate it, and the thought of it just makes me tired. But I wanted you guys to know that I’m not just slacking off and not blogging. I’ll try to sum up.

I’m not mad at Ron Washington. I’ve always liked him as the Rangers’ manager, and the players play really hard for him. He made a mistake, and he’s been paying for it the past 9 months by going through the MLB’s drug rehab program, which includes thrice-weekly drug testing.

I have a hard time believing that a 57-year-old man would just “try” cocaine for the first and only time, and then just “happen” to have to take one of the MLB’s random drug tests 2-3 days later (while the drug was still in his system). There’s definitely something fishy there.

But I don’t believe he’s a habitual user. I think maybe he had used it at parties or whatever in the past, and he just didn’t think it was a big deal. And I think now he realizes what a big deal it is.

I absolutely DO NOT condone illegal drug use in any way, shape, or form. I personally have never used recreational drugs, ever. I’ve never even tried cigarettes. But I do understand that everybody makes mistakes.

If Rangers fans can accept Josh Hamilton after he abused cocaine and crack for 3 1/2 years, why can’t we forgive Ron Washington’s lapse in judgment? I don’t think he’ll do it again.

But if he fails another drug test, I won’t be feeling so gracious.

Okay, on to Tommy Hunter. Tommy has been tentatively penciled in to the 4th spot in the rotation because of the great job he did as a starter last year. But while he was warming up to start Thursday’s Spring Training game against the Milwaukee Brewers, he strained his oblique muscle over his left rib cage.

He should only be sidelined for 1-2 weeks, but Opening Day is in 2 weeks, and Tommy has only pitched 5 innings in Spring Training. It’s pretty unlikely that he’ll be ready to start the season in the Bigs.

Which sucks, because Tommy is a good solid pitcher. But the one area in which the Rangers’ are experiencing an embarrassment of riches is starting pitching. Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Brandon McCarthy, and C.J.Wilson have all been competing for one spot in the starting rotation. So now, I guess they’re competing for two spots in the starting rotation.

I’m pretty sure Tommy will make it up to the Bigs at some point in the first half of the 2010 season.

Should I be nervous that Opening Day is in 2 weeks and I still haven’t received my tickets in the mail? I haven’t received my mini-plan tickets in the mail either. I’ll have to try to remember to call the Rangers’ ticket office tomorrow and find out what’s going on.

15 days until Opening Day!!

Fan Fest: Saturday 1/30/10

The alarm on Matt’s cell phone went off at 9:00 Saturday morning. I threw a pillow across the room in hopes of hitting Matt, but it didn’t work. He just muttered “What the hell?” as the pillow went sailing past his bed, and he hit the snooze button. I was just glad the noise had stopped. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m not a morning person. And I had been up pretty late the night before.

A few minutes later, I remembered that we were supposed to go to Fan Fest, and I was wide awake. “Matty, wake up!” I sang to my brother. “Hmm? What?” “It’s Fan Fest, Matty!!” “Okay, okay!” he said, finally sitting up.

As we got up to get ready, I warned him, “It’s going to be really cold today, so you need to dress warm.” “Got it,” he said, as he pulled his jeans on over his pajama pants. I just shook my head and laughed. “I guess that’s kind of like wearing long johns.”

Before we left the hotel room, I called the Omni Fort Worth again to see if anyone had turned in my phone. No such luck. We packed up our stuff, checked out, got our complimentary breakfast (which was pretty good, btw), and headed to the Ballpark at around 10:00. By the time we got there and parked and got in, it was about 10:30. And it was COLD!!

I was wearing jeans, a long sleeved shirt with my Chris Davis shirt over it, and my Rangers hoodie. And that was it. No gloves, no hat, no overcoat. That’s what a lifetime of Texas winters will do to you. I was woefully unprepared.

As soon as we got inside the Ballpark, we headed to the big Rangers shop behind center field. After looking around for a while, we discovered that they didn’t have any gloves. Lovely. I considered buying some socks to put on my hands before ultimately deciding against it. But I did find a red Rangers toboggan-type hat for $20. Sold!

First Matt and I headed to the Cuervo Club to see what Jamey Newberg was up to. It was just past 11:00, so the people waiting to see Tanner Scheppers and Zach Phillips had already been allowed to go inside. Yep, that’s where I wanna be!

As I waited in line, my ADD/excitement/love of baseball took over and I began talking to various other people waiting in line, which really shocked my brother. He’s not really into baseball, so he’s not usually around me when I’m in my element, and he’s used to me being more quiet and reserved. Ha! 🙂

Tanner Scheppers and Jamey Newberg

When I got up to the first table (Jamey Newberg and Tanner Scheppers), I said hi to Jamey. “Hi, Katie, are you having a good day today?” he asked. “Oh yeah,” I said, “it’s cold, of course, but we’re having fun.” I introduced my Matt to Jamey and handed Tanner a baseball to sign. “Oh, Katie, did you ever find your cell phone?” Jamey asked. “No,” I explained, “I called the Omni this morning, and nobody turned it in. Oh well.”
Zach Phillips
We headed to the next table, where Eleanor Czajka was sitting with Zach Phillips. I guess she couldn’t hear Jamey (because of all the stuff that was going on), so she said, “Hi, Katie. Did you find your phone?” “No, not yet,” I said. “But I’m going to keep calling them until they find it!”
After Zach signed a baseball for me, he posed for a picture with Eleanor. But she made me promise that I wouldn’t put it on my blog, so I had to cut her out. She was making a funny face anyway, because she was talking while I took the picture. But I did what you asked, Eleanor!! 🙂
As Matt and I left the Cuervo Club, he looked at me in amazement. “They actually knew you by name, and they asked if you found your phone!” he said. “Well, yeah,” I replied. “I told you that I hung out with them after the awards ceremony last night.” “But still… that was just cool! They’re, like, important! And you know them!” I just laughed.
Where do you want to go next?” Matt asked. “I’m not waiting out in the cold for any autographs,” I said. “So I guess we should head off to the Rangers’ workout room!”
“Hungry,” Matt grunted. “Dude, it’s only 11:30! You ate breakfast like an hour ago!” He just shrugged. “Okay, fine,” I said. “Let’s go check out some of the concessions.”
After Matt had eaten a bratwurst with grilled onions, we headed off to the weight room. We followed the signs, and we discovered a line of people waiting to use the indoor batting cages. We weren’t interested in batting practice, so we passed them by and walked right into the exercise room. And there was no one there!
They had marked off an aisle running down the center of the room so that people wouldn’t mess with the machines. But it didn’t seem like too many people were interested in the equipment, because we were the only ones in there.
I thought that more people would be interested, because this is a room that people don’t typically get to see that the players use often. I mean, I thought it was cool! But apparently, no one else did!
After we left the weight room, we went outside to stand in line to see the clubhouse. And that’s where we ended up having the most fun! One of the things I love about my brother is that he’s hilarious, and every time we get together, it’s like we’re 5 years old again. He grabbed the camera and took a self-portrait.
 
Then he decided we should take pictures of our feet, like Forrest Gump. What? I don’t really remember that from Forrest Gump, but Matt is the movie guru, so if he says that Forrest Gump took pictures of his shoes, I believe him. Whatever! 🙂

I tried my hand at taking a self-portrait, like Matt, but they didn’t turn out very well. So he thought he would take one for me. He’s 6’2″, so his arms are a little longer than mine. And apparently I wasn’t too impressed.

Matt took this one right before we got to go into the locker room/clubhouse. I was excited, obviously. And cold. And lacking sleep. And bored. But after a few more minutes, I got to the doorway! They weren’t letting people actually go inside the clubhouse, but just inside the doorway to take pictures.

It’s a good thing that Matt is tall, and he was able to take this picture of me. But then they were shoo-ing us out the door. I wish we could have walked around the room a little. I mean, it’s the offseason, so it’s not like any of the lockers were being used for anything.

Anyway, after we left the clubhouse, we went across the hallway to the dugout. And that was so cool! I’ve never gotten to go into the dugout before, and it gave me chills thinking about all the players who have sat on that bench. Or maybe it was just the weather giving me chills. 😉
Then we got to walk out onto the field, and we had the option to run the bases. I really wanted to, but the average age of people running the bases was approximately 6 years old, so I felt kind of stupid. I usually am up for any opportunity to embarrass myself, but it was freakin’ cold out there, and I wanted to let the kids have their fun. So I just got pictures of the kids sliding into home.
This was on a plaque inside the hallway leading to the dugout. I had to take a picture of it because I love Pudge, and he won 10 Golden Gloves with the Rangers! I mean, come on! That’s pretty darn impressive! All of the other guys are pretty impressive too. Except for Juan Benitez. Sorry, Juan, but you’re the only one that I don’t know.
Then we headed over to check out my seats. I bought a 16-game mini plan for the 2010 season, and I had already picked out my seats over the phone, so I wanted to see them in person.
And they were better than I had hoped! They are in the Corner Box, on the 1st base side, in row 22 on the aisle. The view was spectacular. Fabulous! Matt was just impressed by the fact that my section is close to the “Beers of the World” concessions. {Sigh}

old uniforms

Then I was finally hungry, so I decided to get a hotdog. Matt decided that he was hungry again too, so I ended up buying two hot dogs. And I bought us each some hot chocolate, since it was so freakin’ cold. But Matt drank out of my cup after partaking in his thoroughly disgusting habit of smoking a cigarette, and he totally ruined it for me. It made the hot chocolate taste all smoky. Blech! Maybe this will finally shame him into quitting!
Nolan Ryan 🙂
Next we went to see Darren Oliver’s Q&A session in the Rangers Ballpark Theater, which is near the Lower Home Run Porch in right field. I think this might be where the Legends of the Game Museum used to be, but I’m not sure. We got there early, and in order to warm up a little, we looked around at what was left of the museum.

Darren Oliver

I was really excited to listen to Darren Oliver’s Q&A, because Darren was with the Rangers when I first started watching baseball. The Rangers drafted him in 1988, and he made his major league debut in 1993. But what I remember most is his years as a starter for the Rangers, from 1996-1998. I even got to ask him a question! It was something about when and why he made his transition from starter to reliever.
He knew the year immediately, but I can’t remember now which year he said it was. He said he felt like it was time for him to either move into a relief role “or stay home,” and that his management/coaches were ready and willing to help him make the transition. Then I sucked up to him by telling him that he obviously handled the transition really well, because he was great as a starter and even better as a reliever.

After the Q&A, I wanted to see Tommy Hunter and Darren Oiver at the Diamond Club, but it was really cold and my brother was ready to go home, so we just left. I called the Omni Hotel again once more from Matt’s phone before we left, but they still hadn’t found my phone. And luckily, none of my fingers fell off because of frostbite, so I think I had a pretty good day!

Next time, I’ll be talking about Jamey Newberg’s 2nd book release party that took place last Tuesday. I got to interview Chuck Greenberg one-on-one after it was all over!! YAY!!!