Moustakas hits grand slam in Royals' victory

March, 30, 2015
Mar 30
7:09
PM CT

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Mike Moustakas hit a grand slam in a seven-run first inning as the Kansas City Royals outslugged the Texas Rangers 11-7 Monday.

Alex Gordon, who also homered, and Eric Hosmer each had three of the Royals' 15 hits.

Rangers starter Lisalverto Bonilla retired only one of eight batters he faced before being pulled after 37 pitches. He allowed five hits, walked one, hit a batter and balked home a run.

Gordon, who was held out of early games while rehabbing from December right wrist surgery, had only three singles in 24 at-bats, entering the game.

Adam Rosales, Leonys Martin, Jake Smolinski and Ryan Rua each hit solo home runs off Royals left-hander Jason Vargas.

Rua extended his hitting streak to 10 games, while Martin went 3 for 3 and has reached base safely in 11 straight games.


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Jean-Jacques Taylor makes his pick for the whether the Texas Rangers will reach the 77-win mark this season.
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Players and managers give their takes on the new pace-of-play rules and how they expect the speed of the game to get faster or slower this season.

Gallardo is used to Opening Day spotlight

March, 30, 2015
Mar 30
9:00
AM CT

Yovani GallardoMatt Kartozian/USA TODAYYovani Gallardo has again assumed the mantle of staff ace -- this time for his new team.



SURPRISE, Ariz. -- One of the reasons the Texas Rangers acquired pitcher Yovani Gallardo from the Milwaukee Brewers during the offseason was to add depth to the rotation.

Sitting behind ace Yu Darvish and rising star Derek Holland, Gallardo was supposed to cruise into spring training without pressure and work to build off somewhat of a bounce-back season a year ago.

Fast forward a month and Gallardo finds himself in the same role. Darvish is done for the year following Tommy John surgery and Holland suffered setbacks in his preparation for the season. The end result is that Gallardo is again the top pitcher on his staff -- even if only until Holland gets going -- and that includes the assignment to pitch Opening Day in Oakland next week.

This will be Gallardo's sixth straight year pitching on Opening Day, so the adrenaline of leading Texas into a new season should carry him through the first game. Plus, he already experienced an unexpected Opening Day assignment in 2011 when he filled the role in place of Zack Greinke who was put on the DL.

"It's always exciting, no matter how many times it is," Gallardo said of taking the hill on to start the season. "It is a bit of bad news to lose a guy like Darvish. You never want to see one of the top pitchers in the league go down but injuries happen and we understand that in the rotation."

Gallardo is also returning home, which adds a new wrinkle for the right hander who grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. He would've pitched his first game during the opening series in Oakland anyway, so he views that as an advantage before all eyes are on him at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

"I think it definitely will help," Gallardo said of opening the season on the road. "The first start with a different team, I'm sure I'll be a little nervous and have a little extra adrenaline to want to go out there and perform for this ballclub. I'm excited to be home for a whole year to pitch in front of my friends and family."

Gallardo is a free agent at the end of the season when his current six-year, $43.5 million contract expires. The 29-year old is set up for another large contract and, if Texas resigns him, the opportunity to play in his own backyard for a long stretch of his career going forward.

"I approach every year the same way," Gallardo said. "Becoming a free agent, I have a lot of people thinking I'll feel more pressure but if I do what I've done, I'll be in a good spot."

Gallardo is seeking to improve on his last two seasons, which weren't as good as the previous four. His strikeout rate has dropped over the last two years and he has given up 20 or more home runs in four of the past six seasons -- which could prove an issue during the summer in Arlington.

The 29-year old has a track record that says he could be one of the better pitchers in baseball -- but his last two seasons could also be a warning sign that his best years could be behind him.

BBTN 100: Players No. 51-100

March, 30, 2015
Mar 30
7:12
AM CT
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Who are the best players in Major League Baseball heading into the 2015 season?

ESPN formed a panel of MLB writers, analysts and contributors to rank the top 100. We ranked the top 10 at every position and will unveil the top 25 Tuesday with a special edition of "Baseball Tonight" (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2 & WatchESPN).

The results will be announced on ESPN.com, Facebook (ESPN Baseball Tonight) and Twitter (@BBTN). Fans can use the hashtag #BBTN100 to join the discussion and follow along.

To compile the top 100, we polled more than 60 ESPN experts in February and March, starting with a list of more than 300 players. Using a 0-to-10 scale, they evaluated the players based only on how well they are projected to perform in 2015. Players expected to miss 2015 with an injury were not included.

We're starting the top 100 by ranking the bottom half from 51-100, where there are 19 new players in the top 100. The highest debut on the list is Yankees reliever Dellin Betances. While 19 players made their debuts, 26 players who were ranked from 51-100 last year dropped out of the top 100.

Come back Tuesday for the top 50.


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Rollins helps Dodgers beat Rangers 10-5

March, 29, 2015
Mar 29
6:26
PM CT

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jimmy Rollins hit a leadoff double in Los Angeles' five-run third inning, and a split-squad of Dodgers beat the Texas Rangers 10-5 in spring training on Sunday.

Rollins scored on Chris Heisey's two-run single in the third against Nick Tepesch, and Adrian Gonzalez had a two-run double.

The Dodgers also got a two-run homer from Buck Britton in the fourth.

Los Angeles right-hander Brandon McCarthy pitched 5 2/3 innings in his fourth spring start.


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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Tyson Ross showed off his arm for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, striking out 12 in six dominant innings and leading the San Diego Padres to a 3-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday.

Wilson spent the day in the Rangers' camp. He homered during batting practice and took out the lineup card before the start of the game. A former minor league infielder for Colorado, Wilson was later acquired by the Rangers and practiced with them last year.

Ross' 12 strikeouts matched a spring training high for the past five years. Tampa Bay right-hander Alex Cobb struck out 12 Baltimore Orioles on March 22, 2014.

Ross, who threw 62 strikes in 94 pitches, struck out Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, Ryan Rua and Carlos Peguero each twice. Ross, a 28-year-old right-hander, yielded two runs on six hits, while walking one.

Prince Fielder had an RBI single for Texas in the first and Thomas Field scored on wild pitch by Ross in the fifth.


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Wilson visits Rangers, takes BP

March, 28, 2015
Mar 28
3:19
PM CT
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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Fantasy camp met Major League Baseball camp Saturday, as for the second consecutive year, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson followed up a Super Bowl appearance with a one-day workout with the Texas Rangers.

"It's an honor to be here," Wilson said. "Growing up as a kid, I always had a dream of playing two sports, so I'm thankful for this opportunity to play with these big leaguers and to take ground balls with them.

"The first sport I ever played as a kid was baseball, so it's been important to me my entire life."

Wilson took infield practice and turned double plays with the other second basemen much like he did a year ago. What was different this year, however, was Wilson took batting practice and even homered once.

"I was able to stay back on one and drive it to left-center field," Wilson said. "There's something special about throwing a touchdown because it's so hard to throw touchdowns but hitting a home run is a good feeling, too."

Friday night, Wilson met with numerous Rangers players and coaches for an informal gathering where they shared philosophies about being successful at a high level. Numerous players asked Wilson questions, drawing on his experience of leading the Seahawks to two Super Bowl appearances, including one title, by the age of 26.

"He's an impressive guy," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "It was the first time I ever had the chance to speak with him. This is a guy who wants to be the best in the game but he also has a unique balance about being ultra aware of what it takes to be the best.


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Rangers acquire LHP Freeman from Cardinals

March, 28, 2015
Mar 28
1:52
PM CT

SURPRISE, Ariz. – The Texas Rangers acquired left-handed pitcher Sam Freeman from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, the team announced Saturday.

Freeman began last season with Triple-A Memphis before being called up to the Cardinals. With St. Louis, he made a career-high 44 appearances out of the bullpen, recording a 2-0 record with a 2.61 ERA. He has been added to the Rangers' 40-man roster and is expected to begin the season in the major leagues.

"He [Freeman] has a very good arm," said Rangers general manager Jon Daniels. "He has a fastball, split, slider mix and has had some success with the Cardinals. He actually does better against righties than lefties, so he isn't a matchup guy."

Born in Houston, Freeman graduated from Hebron High School in Carrollton, Texas, and still resides in Lewisville, a suburb of Dallas. He pitched at North Central Texas College in Gainesville and was selected by St. Louis in the 32nd round of the 2008 draft out of the University of Kansas.

Other Rangers roster moves:

  • RHP Anthony Ranaudo was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock.
  • RHP Russ Ohlendorf was assigned to minor league camp. He is currently out with a mild right groin strain and is expected to begin the season on the minor league disabled list.
  • OF Nate Schierholtz has been granted his release from his minor league contract.
  • RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo was informed he won't make the team and was offered a minor league assignment. He is weighing his options.

Injury news: Outfielder Antoan Richardson underwent successful surgery on two herniated disks. He is expected to miss 8 to 10 weeks.

Ranuado goes 6 in Rangers' 7-6 loss to A's

March, 27, 2015
Mar 27
6:31
PM CT

MESA, Ariz. -- Anthony Ranaudo pitched six solid innings and Elvis Andrus, Jake Smolinski and Chris Gimenez each drove in runs for Texas before the Oakland Athletics rallied in the ninth for a 7-6 victory Friday over the Rangers.

Mark Canha hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth after the Rangers scored five times over the final three innings to take the lead.

A's starter Jesse Hahn allowed a run on three hits over 5 1/3 innings in his first appearance against the Rangers. He walked one and struck out three.

Former Ranger Craig Gentry doubled, tripled and scored two runs for the A's. Stephen Vogt homered among his two hits and Ben Zobrist and Billy Butler each drove in a run.

Ranuado, in the hunt for a spot in the Rangers' rotation, gave up two runs on five hits. He struck out two and did not walk a batter.


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BBTN 100: Top 10 first basemen

March, 27, 2015
Mar 27
8:31
AM CT
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Who are the best players in Major League Baseball heading into the 2015 season?

ESPN formed a panel of MLB writers, analysts and contributors to rank the top 100. We'll run through the top-10 lists at every position each day and unveil the top 25 Tuesday with a special edition of "Baseball Tonight" (8 ET, ESPN2 & WatchESPN).

The results will be announced on ESPN.com, Facebook (ESPN Baseball Tonight) and Twitter (@BBTN). Fans can use the hashtag #BBTN100 to join the discussion and follow along.

To compile the top 100, we polled more than 60 ESPN experts in February and March, starting with a list of more than 300 players. Using a 0-to-10 scale, they evaluated the players based only on how well they will perform in 2015. Players expected to miss 2015 with an injury were not included.

Miguel Cabrera remains on top at first, but for how much longer with a number of young sluggers right behind him?

Three players dropped out of last year's top 10 -- Joe Mauer, Chris Davis, Allen Craig. Check out the list below to see who jumped into the top 10 for 2015.


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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Nick Martinez threw six scoreless innings, Leonys Martin homered and the Texas Rangers beat the Colorado Rockies 6-3 on Thursday night.

Martinez, competing for the final vacancy in the Rangers' rotation, allowed five hits and walked one. He struck out four, throwing 54 strikes in 74 pitches, and lowered his ERA to 0.84 in three spring appearances. He has allowed one run over 9 2/3 innings.

Martinez went 5-12 with a 4.55 ERA as a rookie last year, making 24 starts and five relief appearances.

Martin homered in the third with Robinson Chirinos aboard. Chirinos was hit by a pitch from Chad Bettis.

Ed Lucas, Nate Schierholtz and Adam Rosales delivered run-producing hits in a four-run eighth.

Bettis, optioned to Triple-A on Sunday, was brought back to face the Rangers. He yielded two runs and three hits in four innings, walking none and striking out four.


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Yovani Gallardo to start Opening Day

March, 26, 2015
Mar 26
8:51
PM CT

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Yovani Gallardo was selected as the Opening Day starter for the Texas Rangers by manager Jeff Banister on Thursday.

This will be Gallardo's sixth straight Opening Day assignment. The previous five were with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Rangers acquired Gallardo, who went to high school in Fort Worth, in a four-player trade in January.

Gallardo will face Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray on April 6 in Oakland.

Gallardo, who is eligible for free agency after the season, becomes the seventh different Rangers Opening Day starter in the past seven years.

He has an 11.32 ERA in three spring training games.

Yu Darvish was projected to start the Texas opener but is out for the season after reconstructive elbow surgery March 17.

Banister also announced left-hander Ross Detwiler has secured a spot in the rotation. Detwiler was used as a reliever last season by the Washington Nationals but has 69 starts in his career. Detwiler is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in three spring appearances.


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What happens to the Yu Darvish beat?

March, 26, 2015
Mar 26
4:20
PM CT

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Sam Onada is a freelance reporter who provides coverage for NHK Television in Japan. For the past three years, he's essentially been covering Yu Darvish on a full-time basis, filing reports back to Japan, one of 10 or so Japanese media members covering the Texas Rangers' All-Star right-hander.

So when Darvish went down for the season with Tommy John surgery, Onada says he "half-joked" with his bosses that he was probably out of a job. After all, as a freelancer, it would be pretty easy to cut him loose if there's no news to report. Darvish is currently in Arizona after his surgery and will return to Dallas for rehab during the season, but there won't be a lot of reporting to do on that front.

[+] EnlargeYu Darvish
AP Photo/Brandon WadeYu Darvish being out for the season has left several Japanese media members scrambling for assignments.

Luckily for Onada, he lined up another gig: He'll be heading up to Seattle to cover Hisashi Iwakuma.

Onada admits that Darvish is more popular in Japan. "He's more dynamic," he said. "Iwakuma is a good pitcher, but Darvish has more pitches and a better fastball," a combination the fans love. Still, a job is a job.

A couple of the other reporters also will leave the Darvish beat to cover Iwakuma. There were about six or seven Japanese media members on hand for Wednesday's game between the Rangers and Reds. Darvish may be out for the season, but relief pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa, formerly with the Cubs, has a good chance to make the Rangers' roster. He pitched 1.1 scoreless innings on Wednesday and hasn't allowed a run in 4.2 spring innings.

Onada also covered Daisuke Matsuzaka when he first came to Boston. "Dice-K was even bigger than Darvish," Onada said. "He was already a legend because of Koshien," the high school baseball tournament in Japan the entire nation fixates on. In the summer tournament, Matsuzaka threw 148 pitches in one game, threw 250 pitches in 17 innings the next day in the quarterfinals, picked up a save in the semifinals and then threw a no-hitter in the championship.

But there was also huge interest in Darvish, although Onada says there were more reporters covering him his first year with the Rangers.

Ichiro Suzuki often declined to speak with the mass of Japanese media, or would often talk to them with his back turned. Darvish, whom Onada describes as "a very private person," was a little shy initially but began opening up more last season. Still, he wouldn't talk with the media the day before a start -- it had to be two days before.

The Rangers had two Japanese pitchers, Koji Uehara and Yoshinori Tateyama, on their 2011 postseason team. Both pitched in the ALCS but were then left off the World Series roster. (Ron Washington lost confidence in Uehara after he served up three home runs in the first two rounds of the playoffs.) I remember covering that World Series and feeling bad for the large throng of Japanese reporters who now had no story to cover.

Hopefully Iwakuma will prove dynamic enough to give Onada and his cohorts plenty of news so they can keep their jobs.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.324 19 77 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182