Spring Training in full gear, My top 5 concerns for the Texas Rangers
By David Cash
Sept. 18, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcherTanner Scheppers
(52) leaves the game in the fourth inning after being injured on a play at the plate at Angel Stadium. The Angels scored eight runs in the inning. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Full team work outs have begun for the Texas Rangers position players and pitchers and catchers now in Surprise. There are some questions and concerns left for Jon Daniels and his staff.
Who’s on second base? Well so far it is supposed to be Jurickson Profar, but he’s currently restricted to just doing leg work due to shoulder tendinitis. He should be able to resume activities in a week or so. If not, then the Rangers will be looking to Adam Rosales or possibly bringing in another second baseman. If they do bring in another second baseman, it won’t be anyone big, but probably a veteran player that is able to cover the bag until Profar is able to play again. But Profar says he’ll be back to throwing soon. Let’s hope so! I’m pretty excited to seeing the full potential of what he is able to do. He show flashes of greatness last year while only playing part time. Now playing full-time, I expect to see more of that and some awesome plays between him, Elvis Andrus and Prince Fielder.
Another concern is the bullpen, but not as much as the starting rotation. The only notable injury is Joseph Ortiz who was injury back in January when he was hit by a motorcycle while in Venezuela. If the Rangers are able to keep Ross in the bullpen and get what they want out of Scheppers and Soria, it could be solid. As long as Neftali Feliz is able to hold down the closer role.
With Joe Nathan now gone, Ron Washington is looking for a closer. The best candidate going into spring training is Neftali Feliz. He’ll have to show Washington that he’s got the mind to do the job. He had the job prior to Nathan, and I think he can do it again. I would like to see him go into spring training confident and take ownership of that role. What I don’t want to see is him struggling and blowing games. But I don’t think that will happen. If he’s able to do that, you’ll have two great setup pitchers in Scheppers and Soria.
The designated hitter spot is another concern. The way it lines up now, you’ll have 3 lefties at that position. Mitch Moreland, Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo will share time there. It’s not the worst thing having just lefties, but certain match-up might not work as well. That’s one reason having Nelson Cruz as the DH sounds like a good idea. But Moreland does have a powerful bat, and he’s set to have one of his best year. Looking forward to seeing what he’ll do.
Before spring training started, there were several questions how the starting rotation will looking by opening day. Now with with Derek Holland injured, the Rangers are trying to fill that hole. When camp started on Sunday, it appeared pretty promising that Matt Harrison and possible Colby Lewis could be the ones to step up and replace Holland. But, those are two big question marks. That is one concern I have with the Rangers. They have done a lot to upgrade the bats, but pitching might again be an issue for 2014. Harrison is still the top option for the rotation, but today he was shutdown and sent back to Dallas to have an MRI done on his back. Right now it is just precautionary, and it is possible he’ll be fine. But, what if he isn’t? Then you are looking at a starting rotation of Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando, Nick Tepesch and possible Robbie Ross. I add Ross in the mix because he has been a starter in the minors, got some starts during winter ball and he wants to be a starter. Again, the concern here is yo-yoing guys from the bullpen to the starter role.
Overall, being an optimistic, the Rangers should be fine. While there are some players now at full-speed yet, you have to remember that it is only week one of spring training. I’m not gong to start to worry until Opening Day. Even then, I’m sure Jon Daniels will have something he’ll do to help the team. He’s done a good job at building this team and I think it is one of the best.