We have news!
Okay, yeah, I hate using exclamation points, too, but actual, definitive news is rather exciting.
It has apparently been confirmed that rookie-to-be 22 year-old middle infielder, Leury Garcia, has been selected for the final position spot on the Rangers’ 2013 Opening Day roster. Because of Garcia’s extremely limited experience in the the Major Leagues, it’s hard to imagine him getting very much playing time, as he’s primarily going to be Elvis Andrus‘s backup. Jeff Baker figures to get the bulk of Adrian Beltre‘s, Ian Kinsler‘s, and Mitch Moreland‘s off days.
Thinking of it in a different sense, since Leury Garcia won’t get many starts, he is sure to be getting a lot of late-inning pinch-running opportunities. The Rangers already have a very speedy lineup, but we are also going to see witness a healthy share of Lance Berkman walks this year, and he’s frankly a liability on the bases at this stage of his career. Garcia and Craig Gentry are going to rack up a ton of high-leverage stolen base attempts in the latter stages of games, and other teams probably won’t like that very much.
The second news — the decision to have Nick Tepesch as the 5th starter and Michael Kirkman in the bullpen — is a bit more puzzling. It could be that (a) the Rangers view Tepesch to be a better starter than Kirkman; (b) it could be that the Rangers actually place a premium on having Michael Kirkman in the bullpen; (c) or it could just be as simple as Kirkman’s preference being in the bullpen. It could be something else.
I’m happy for Tepesch, who basically came out of nowhere this spring to claim a rotation spot initially favored by Martin Perez and Justin Grimm, or Robbie Ross. As the spring rolled on I grew comfortable with the idea of having Kirkman as the 5th starter, but when we factor in that Colby Lewis will be back in the middle of May, the last starter isn’t a huge priority. Nick Tepesch will likely only start 4-5 times before Colby comes back.
So as far as we know, here are the guaranteed roster spots:
P – Darvish, Harrison, Holland, Ogando, Tepesh
C – Pierzynski
1B – Moreland
2B – Kinsler
3B – Beltre
SS – Andrus
LF – Murphy
CF – Martin
RF – Cruz
DH – Berkman
Bench – Gentry, Soto, Baker, Garcia
Bullpen – Nathan, Frasor, Kirkman, Ross, Lowe
That leaves Texas with two bullpen spots up for grabs with five days to decide.