3 Up, 3 Down, and 3 Things to Watch for: Texas Rangers Spring Training Week 4
3 Things to Watch For
The first thing to watch for is roster decisions. The Rangers have five games left in Arizona before departing for Arlington on Sunday. Most questions have been answered to this point, but there are some roster decisions that still need to be made before Opening Day. The two biggest are who will be on the bench and who will be in the bullpen.
The bench decision comes down to whether or not to include both Josh Smith and Ezequiel Duran or just one of them. Smith and Duran have both played that utility role this Spring. Josh Smith even got playing time in center field on Monday. Duran has been playing all over the infield and playing in left field as well. Bochy and the front office have to weigh long term development for these players and their ability to help the team win now. The other bench spots figure to be filled by Bubba Thompson and either Clint Frazier or Travis Jankowski. This decision might not be made till right before Opening Day.
The bullpen is the next spot and it is unknown how many spots are up for grabs. Marc Church and Chase Lee were sent down last weekend. It is down to Josh Sborz, Ian Kennedy, Reyes Moronta, Zach Littell, and John King for maybe 2 or 3 spots left in the bullpen. Sborz is the player to watch because of his presence on the 40-man roster. If he is not on the roster that would open up a spot on the 40-man for Kennedy, Moronta, or Littell. Bochy has not given a definite answer on how many spots in the bullpen that are open. Over the next seven days, the bullpen picture will come into focus as players are sent out or retained. Much like the bench, the bullpen decisions may not be finalized until Opening Day rosters are finalized.
The second thing to be watching for is the health of Leody Taveras. The clock is ticking louder for Taveras to be ready for Opening Day. According to Levi Weaver of The Athletic Taveras is taking full swings from his left side as he recovers from a low grade oblique strain. He is a switch hitter though and swinging left-handed is just one checkpoint of a few he has to hit before being allowed to play. He has to be able to swing right-handed. He also has to be able to move fluidly in the outfield and be able to start and stop as well as being as to run full speed. There are only a few days left of the camp and only seven games left to play in. By the end of this week, we should have an answer on whether or not Taveras travels with the team to Arlington next week or stays in Arizona to rehab.
The last thing to watch for is potential trades. Teams will start to finalize rosters this week and that includes designating for assignments veterans that will not make rosters. There could be a flurry of trades before Opening Day as veterans that do not fit on one team, but do fill a hole for another team. The bullpen is one area where if the Rangers do not feel comfortable with the in-house options they could look to improve externally. Additionally, if Josh Sborz does not make this team they also could look to trade him rather than just lose him to a waiver claim.
It will be a busy final week as Spring Training 2023 in Surprise, Arizona is wrapped up and the team heads east to Arlington. Games start to wrap up, pitchers continue to add to their pitch counts, and roster decisions will be made. The countdown to Opening Day continues for fans as March 30th gets closer to this highly anticipated Rangers season.