There was troubling news coming out of spring training today with it being reported that Josh Hamilton was struck on the left hand by a pitch. According to MLB.com the initial report is that of a bruised left hand, but it will be evaluated further. Most Rangers fans will not feel comfortable about this report until it includes “X-rays on Hamilton’s left hand came back negative.” Although with that being said it doesn’t take much of something being sore for him to be held out of the lineup.
Most people argue that his wild lifestyle while away from baseball has hurt his body tremendously. Personally, I don’t buy that, do I think that the drugs may have affected his body yes, do I feel that they made him injury prone, NO! The reason that Hamilton during his time with the Ranger’s has been hurt was either to him trying to be Coco Crisp on offense or the unfortunate hit by a pitch. Hamilton will do well this season, if number one he is not so rough on offense and two he doesn’t have the freak accidents such as being hit by a pitch.
As far as the Ranger’s bullpen for the upcoming season, it seems to be coming together. The only issue with it, is whether C.J. Wilson should be in the Rotation or in the bullpen. Frank Francisco is set to be the Rangers closer for 2010, in 2009 he did quite well other than being on the disabled list three times, two of those times being due to his shoulder and the other time due to pneumonia. He finished the season with 25 saves.
This is where Wilson comes into play while filling in at the closer role last season he finished with 14 saves. One thing that I love to see in baseball and I think is great for a team is when a reliever has more than 5 wins or a non-closer has multiple saves. This is usually a good thing in that you have somebody who is capable to put up numbers like that and you don’t need them as either the Closer in the Starting rotation.
Alot of teams have great starting pitching, so the first six or seven innings of a game are perfect. Then you give the ball to the bullpen and it becomes shaky from there. The difference between a good team and a great team is a strong bullpen that either can hold a tie or a lead for the last 3 or 4 innings. If your closer is good enough you can shorten a game to only eight innings. If your team has a lead and your closer is on the mound you always think win. Hopefully whatever combination the Rangers come up with for the closer position, they expect success.
The Rangers rotation has pretty much been set, although most of the members have had trouble this spring training. Rich Harden signed the one year deal and is looking to be the opening day starter. He will then be followed by Scott Feldman who won 17 games last year in the Rangers rotation. The Rangers brought back Colby Lewis from Japan to help solidify the rotation. The fourth spot should go to Tommy Hunter and as far as the fifth spot goes its an open field. Some of the candidates are C.J. Wilson who was mentioned earlier, Neftali Feliz, Brandon McCarthy, Derek Holland, and Matt Harrison. Once the fifth starter is figured out the Rangers should have the bullpen settled. There is only 2 1/2 weeks left in spring training so very little time left for these pitcher to impress.