When the Ranger’s reported to spring training in early February, the first four spots in the rotation were set. The only competition for the rotation was the fifth starter position, which there were several players in the mix. Among these players were the likes of Derek Holland, Brandon McCarthy, C.J. Wilson, Matt Harrison, and Neftali feliz.
The Rangers rotation was to have Rich Harden starting opening day, then being followed by Scott Feldman. Felman is the strongest pitcher in rotation as far as proven durability and games won. Last year he won 17 games in the rotation for the Rangers. Harden has ace-like stuff if he can just stay healthy. He was a relatively cheap pickup for the Rangers and as long as he avoids injuries will be one of the best values in the major’s if he lives up to his potential.
Occupying the third spot would be Colby Lewis after he returned from Japan after spending two years in their professional baseball league. He is much improved from his first stint with the Rangers, whom he made his major league debut with after being drafted by them. Lewis is another type of player that if he lives up to his true potential he should do well.
The fourth spot in the rotation was to be occupied by Tommy Hunter after he went 9-6 in 19 starts in the rotation last year. Unfortunately Hunter has strained his right oblique muscle and he will not be able to get enough innings in before the end of the spring training. So as of this point it is almost certain that he will open the season on the 15 day disabled list. Here is an article on http://orthopedics.about.com/cs/sprainsstrains/a/abdominal.htm on oblique strains.
So this is good news for the pitchers who were vying for the fifth starter position. Throughout spring training C. J. Wilson has continued to impress Ron Washington the rest of the Ranger’s organization with his ability. Wilson can throw five different pitches effectively. He was looking like the favorite to win the fifth starter position, so he will just slot into the fourth starter position. The fact that he can throw five different pitches makes it tough to place him into a reliever role were most of the pitchers there only have 1-2 pitches.
As far as the number five starter it is appearing that Matt Harrison will top the rest of the candidates. In three spring outings, over 9 innings pitched, he has allowed 8 hits, 2 runs and one walk. Only one walk over 9 innings is pretty impressive. Hopefully he can continue this type of control over 30 starts this upcoming season.
The rest of the candidates will either fill up the bullpen or sent down to Triple-A to be continued to be stretched out as starters in case anyof the members of the rotation ends up on the disabled list. The Rangers have a very deep farm system, which should help them not miss a beat this season if somebody goes down.
As far as A.L. West news, the Mariners had some troubling news out of camp today. Cliff Lee who they received from the Phillies this off season for three prospects has an abdominal strain and is in danger of starting the season on time. Lee was projected to be the number 2 started behind Felix Hernandez. Lee was in Seattle today and received the platelet rich plasma treatment to help the injury heal. This is the second setback of spring training for Lee, after he received word that he was suspended for the first five days of the season after throwing over the head of Chris Snyder of the Diamond Backs. So it could possibly be late April before Lee actually makes a start for the Mariners.
Something I found kind of interesting and pathetic is that Milton Bradley who was with the Rangers for the 2008 season has been ejected out of two straight games. During his time with the Rangers, Bradley did well and that is what helped him secure the $30 million three year contract with the Cubs. As you see the 2009 season was the one and only season for Bradley as a member of the Cubs. He struggled mighty on the field and had several issues with fans, other players and even Manager Lou Pinella off the field. Milton Bradley has no respect for the game or his team or teammates for that matter. He was ejected on Wednesday for dropping his bat on a called third strike and tonight he was ejected for arguing a called third strike. He needs to focus on what he is doing to play the game and not how it is everyone else’s fault. I am sure the Mariners experiment will be a one experiment and this time next year he will be with another team.