The Rangers finally won an exhibition game!!!
It took three tries, but Texas finally hit the win column with a 16-3 pasting of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, putting their record at 1-2 early in Spring play.
But of course, it all means nothing.
What really matters at this point is the competition for what few spots there are open on the roster. Here’s an update after three games:
CENTER FIELD: Ron Washington says Josh Hamilton is his best center fielder and, in his mind, the best center fielder in baseball. That said, the Rangers want to play Hamilton in center as little as possible, even if it cuts the injury risk by less than 10%. Craig Gentry is being given a chance to win the job outright and there’s little doubt he will be on the Opening Day roster. Word out of camp is Leonys Martin, the Cuban defector signed to a multi-year contract last year, is still a diamond in the rough and probably not polished enough to be in the bigs come April. Martin DID show a flash against the D-Backs with a monster home run today. Julio Borbon got the start in CF today and went 1-2 with a walk (good) and a caught stealing (bad). Meanwhile, Conor Jackson hit a bomb today as well. Jackson isn’t in the mix for center field, but if he keeps hitting, the Rangers could go with a Gentry/Hamilton platoon in center, giving Jackson AB’s rotating with David Murphy in left. Still lots of time to sort this battle out.
LEFT-HANDED RELIEF SPECIALIST: Here are the candidates – Michael Kirkman, Robbie Ross, Kelvin De La Cruz, Miguel de los Santos, Martin Perez, Zach Jackson, Joe Beimel, Neil Cotts, Ben Snyder, Mitch Stetter and Joseph Ortiz. Through three games:
De La Cruz: 2/3 of an inning with 0 runs but a hit and a walk.
De los Santos: 1 hitless inning with a K.
Ross: 2 games, 3 IP, 0 Runs, 4 K’s.
Snyder: 1 hitless inning with a K.
Kirkman: 2 IP, 5 H, 4 Runs
Cotts: 1 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs
Stetter: 1 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs
Perez, Jackson, Beimel & Ortiz: No appearances yet.
Advantage thus far has to go to Ross. The Rangers say despite the horrid line score that Kirkman actually threw his pitches well, but was victimized by non-solid hits and an error by Ian Kinsler. He also faced more big league batters. Ross faced more experienced batters today and got two strikeouts and a groundout. He’ll be given more chances to grab the roster spot.
WHO’S HOT: Elvis Andrus is 5 for 5 over the last two games with a double, a triple, 4 runs scored and 2 RBI.
Yu Darvish makes his first exhibition start tomorrow against the Padres. It will be televised live in Japan. If you have the MLB.TV package, you’ll be able to see it online. Otherwise, we’ll see Yu later.