It appears there is another pitcher set to compete for a spot in the Texas Rangers' rotation.
The Rangers and left-hander Joe Saunders have agreed to terms on a one-year, nonguaranteed major league deal, the team announced Wednesday.
The deal is likely to be structured similarly to that of Tommy Hanson, who already is in the camp and vying for a job as a starter.
A group of Rangers representatives watched Saunders throw last week and were pleased with how he looked.
Saunders, 32, struggled last season with the Seattle Mariners, going 11-16 with a 5.26 ERA in 183 innings (32 starts). He did have a career-best ground ball rate last season, but the ERA was the highest of his career. The Rangers are hoping Saunders can revert to the guy who had a 3.86 ERA in the 2011 and 2012 seasons. That would give them a viable option at the back end of the rotation.
Texas continues to look for starting pitching depth in light of the knee injury and subsequent surgery for Derek Holland that will have him out until midseason and also because Matt Harrison won't be ready to start the season as back tightness has him behind in his throwing program.
Colby Lewis continues to progress from hip surgery but isn't throwing as many innings yet as the rest of the pitchers in camp and is adjusting to a longer stride, which means his mechanics are a work in progress.
So with questions hovering about the rotation, the Rangers wanted to add some depth.
With the Dodgers and Diamondbacks opening in Sydney, Australia, the season starts in less than three weeks. That means you've got a lot of baseball news to catch up on in a very short period of time. Fortunately, Off Base is here with its annual spring training notes ...
LOS ANGELES DODGERS: After getting hit in the head by a foul ball from Andre Ethier, drilled in the privates with a ground ball from Matt Kemp, smacked in the nose by a throw from Hanley Ramirez and spiked on the left foot by Adrian Gonzalez, pitching adviser Sandy Koufax opted to leave Dodgers camp -- and was promptly rear-ended in the parking lot by Yasiel Puig. ... Due to his strained right calf, Zack Greinke will not travel to Sydney for the season opener, nor will he join Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett in a Baz Luhrmann film project that had been tentatively titled, "Crocodile Greinke: Australia Doesn't Excite Me."
BOSTON: The Red Sox announced that in a pregame ceremony at the home opener, they will pay tribute to all New England children born since Oct. 31, 2013, who have suffered as many as five agonizing months since Boston last won a World Series at Fenway Park.
PHOENIX -- Ian Kinsler’s comments won’t really have an impact for the Texas Rangers beyond today. The story is now out there, and Kinsler has attempted to take some of it back. Sort of.
But Kinsler is no longer in the Rangers’ clubhouse. He’s not even in the division. And while the Detroit Tigers are one of the teams to beat in the American League, the Rangers have to worry about getting to the postseason through a competitive division before they concern themselves with the Tigers. That can wait.
Josh Hamilton did last year.
No, the real impact is on Kinsler’s reputation. The “0-162” comment is a shrug-your-shoulders-deal to me. Obviously no team goes 0-162, which is why Kinsler’s explanation that it was a joke might have some truth to it. But it’s clear from the article that he was happy to get out of Texas.
How is calling someone a “sleazeball” taken out of context? It’s not. Kinsler admitted that the comment was “childish,” but he didn’t deny saying it. It shows how he really feels about GM Jon Daniels, a point he reinforced Tuesday by saying he has no plans on calling Daniels. If he cared how Daniels felt or even wanted to try to explain himself, he’d call. He doesn’t. (Never mind that the guy he’s calling that is the one who agreed to give him the lucrative, long-term deal he now has.)
Some of you may cheer Kinsler’s honesty. Others may think that calling a GM who is no longer Kinsler’s boss is no big deal. But I think it’s a big mistake, and not just because burning bridges is rarely a good idea.
Over the years, they no doubt talked about life and family and baseball. Apparently, few of those discussions revolved around leadership.
If they did, Kinsler wasn't listening.
Kinsler, traded to Detroit in the offseason, has made it clear he doesn't like general manager Jon Daniels, the man who signed him to a five-year, $75 million extension in April 2012.
In an article in ESPN The Magazine, Kinsler said he hopes the Rangers go 0-162 this season. Then Kinsler called JD a sleazeball, in part, because the GM asked Kinsler to move to first base to make room for Jurickson Profar.
You know, the same way the Rangers traded Alfonso Soriano in December 2005 to make room for Kinsler, who hit 23 homers at Triple-A.
Daniels did not want to get caught up in name-calling, something he said in ESPNDallas.com's story earlier today. But he does hope his team can use the comments -- Kinsler said he hopes the Rangers go 0-162 -- as motivation.
Daniels did attempt to clarify a few things from the story, namely Kinsler's assertion that Daniels' ego drove Nolan Ryan out of town.
"On the Nolan stuff, what he said there, and again I haven’t read it verbatim, but I get the gist of it," Daniels said. "That’s just not accurate. I’m not going to get into it any more than that, other than that it’s simply not accurate."
Daniels did explain what happened when the Prince Fielder-Kinsler trade happened and why he wasn't able to reach Kinsler sooner. He noted that on a conference call with reporters that night that the organization apologized that it couldn't reach Kinsler before word got out.
"I was actually on a flight at the time," Daniels said. "Dave and I had finalized the deal probably about an hour or two before the deal. But with the cash involvement, we needed the commissioner’s office’s approval. It was $30 million they were sending our way. And then, Prince had a no-trade, so he had to sign off on it. So we had to wait for everything.
said in the story: "I hope they go 0-162. "I got friends, and I love my friends, but I hope they lose their ass."
Washington's response: "We won't go 0-162. Guaranteed."
The manager went on to add: "We've got to take this and deal with reality. We're not a bad team."
Washington said he talked to Kinsler shortly after the trade. And Kinsler mentions Washington in the article as someone he will miss.
"He was a big part of our championship run," Washington said.
Washington also defended general manager Jon Daniels, whom Kinsler calls a "sleazeball" in the ESPN The Magazine story.
“To me, Jon Daniels has been one of the best general managers in the game and everything that he’s ever done, he’s done it simply because it’s going to make our team better," said Washington, who was Daniels' first managerial hire as the GM in 2007. "That’s where his head is and that’s where his head has always been and it’s a shame when you get an opinion out there and people are going to take it as if it’s reality and run with it.”
Washington made it clear that the organization is on the same page.
“We are united here in Texas," Washington said. "We are united.”
So that's a guy who has lost 100 points of slugging across three years while calling one of the game's great hitters' nirvanas home, and he's lost a third of his walk rate. Skip hating on change of venues, that's a pretty clear indication of a decline. If you're a Tigers fan, you should be worried about Kinsler.
That's because Kinsler is going to a much more power-neutral park in Comerica, indexing at 98 for righty homers against Rangers Ballpark's 113 (where 100 is average). In his career, Kinsler has hit just .200/.298/.329 in Comerica, but to be fair, that was hitting against Tigers pitching. He won't end up with an OPS below .630. His OPS the past two years has been down around .750, despite which the various projection tools out there are a bit more sanguine about what's likely to come next:
Bill James Handbook: .773 OPS
Dan Szymborski's ZiPS: .764
Baseball Prospectus: .747
FanGraphs' Oliver: .744
I think you know I'm leaning toward the bottom half of that quartet, perhaps below even that if Comerica and age undermine what power Kinsler has left. That won't make him a bad player, not in general, and not on a team I expect to win the AL Central regardless. But then you start looking at his plummeting values in a defensive metric like UZR -- which handles high-opportunity positions such as second, third and shortstop well -- and you have additional reasons for worry.
So yeah, feel a little bit sorry for Ian Kinsler, because there are certainly a few reasons that transcend the inconvenience of having to move midway through a contract he might have felt meant he'd retire as a Ranger. Instead, feel sorry for Kinsler because it may not just be the new uniform that makes him hard to recognize before this year's done.
Christina Kahrl writes about MLB for ESPN. You can follow her on Twitter.
Andrus is throwing again and participated in most of the team drills Monday. He could get in a game in the next day or two.
* C Geovany Soto (foot surgery) is out of his boot and is hitting soft toss and off a tee as he continues to ramp up for what he hopes is a mid-March return.
* RHP Nate Adcock, a nonroster invitee to spring training, felt some numbness in the fingers on his throwing hand and will not pitch until team physician Dr. Keith Meister can take a look at him. That may not be until this weekend.
* RHP Miles Mikolas (elbow soreness) and RHP Shawn Tolleson (back) are throwing from 90 feet.
"I hope they go 0-162," Kinsler told ESPN The Magazine's Robert Sanchez recently in a story published this week. "I got friends, and I love my friends, but I hope they lose their ass."
Rangers manager Ron Washington said Kinsler's comments wouldn't impact the team and that he was always someone who "spoke his mind."
"We won't go 0-162," he said. "Guaranteed."
Washington added: "We've got to take this and deal with reality. We're not a bad team."
Kinsler's comments surprised some Rangers players, and although many declined comment, a few players spoke up.
"I don't think he's going to get what he wants," pitcher Tanner Scheppers said. "I have all the respect in the world for Ian. He's taught me a lot, but he's now with the Detroit Tigers. I wish him luck and I wish luck for everybody."
In the story, Kinsler vents about his frustrations with the Rangers, citing issues with the team and general manager Jon Daniels. His disdain for Daniels is clear, as he calls him a "sleazeball" and blames Daniels' ego for pushing Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan out the door.
"It's not worth defending," Daniels said. "I'm really proud of the group we've got here, the decisions we've made, the people we have in place and what we're building. Based on how he feels, the trade is probably a good thing for all parties involved.
That question, of course, has two sides. Was it worth it to Wilson? Was it worth it to the Texas Rangers?
The answer to both, in my opinion, is yes. Let me explain:
First, there's no question the Rangers got publicity out of the deal. They paid $12,000 to draft Wilson, and the amount of media coverage from stories to photos to B-roll of Wilson wearing a Rangers jersey was priceless.
But that's not how the club got a huge return on its investment. This was no publicity stunt.
Talk to the Rangers’ front office and players and it's clear Wilson wasn't here to smile at the cameras and drum up some free press for Texas. He was treated as one of the guys and, in return, acted like one.
Wilson was not seeking out the star players or the big names he's seen on television. His first lengthy interaction at the ballpark on Monday was with two players who, frankly, are extreme long shots to make this roster. (You can read more about that here). But for those two young players, it was 10 minutes of knowledge they admit they'll apply to what they're doing in preparing for workouts and games.
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson says he's going to hang up his No. 3 blue Texas Rangers jersey (with "Wilson" on the back, of course) somewhere in his house when he gets home. But will he ever try to be a two-sport star and wear it in the major leagues someday?
"You never say never," Wilson said following a full day of activity with the Rangers at spring training in Arizona. "I've always had the dream of playing two sports. If somehow it was a miracle that it could work out, I'd consider it. At the same time, my focus is winning the championship with the Seattle Seahawks and hope to be playing for a long time."
Wilson said he missed the game of baseball, which he started playing when he was 4 years old (he started swinging a bat when he was 2). Maybe that's why he wasted little time returning, at least for a day, to his baseball roots.
The former infielder got his day started early Monday. He was in the clubhouse by 7 a.m. for breakfast and then trotted out to the back fields for an individual infield session with manager Ron Washington. With plenty of cameras trained on his every move, Wilson went through the session as Washington, known as one of the top infielder instructors in the game, showed him a few pointers and worked on improving his hands and feet.
Wilson made the manager a believer.
"If he continued to work and get the repetition, he could probably be as good as he is a football player," Washington said.
That's high praise from a baseball lifer.
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas right-hander Colby Lewis did not get out of the first inning in his first start since having hip surgery in August, and the Rangers lost 6-5 to the Cleveland Indians on Monday.
Lewis, who won 14 games in 2011, allowed two runs on two hits and two walks. He retired only two of the six batters he faced. He has not pitched in the majors since July 18, 2012.
Mitch Moreland drove in two runs for the Rangers with a sacrifice fly and groundout.
Nick Tepesch made sure that pitch count got him an extra inning in Monday's 6-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians. The right-hander, one of those vying for a rotation spot, needed 34 pitches to get through three innings. He allowed two hits and nothing else.
The other thing Tepesch did: throw his changeup. It’s a pitch that he talked about this offseason as a key one if he wanted to claim a spot in the rotation. He said he threw it “six or seven times” and got some swings and misses and a ground ball out of it.
"I thought it was good," Tepesch said. "I buried one and kind of got lazy on one, but other than that it was a good pitch. I was in the zone with it and being in the zone with it is a big part of it -- just being able to command it in the zone. It’s not going to be effective if it’s not in the zone."
When he was done, Tepesch was congratulated by his teammates. On Monday, that included Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
"When I was done he came up and said good job just like the rest of my teammates," Tepesch said. "It was a cool thing to have him in camp. The biggest thing with him is he’s a winner and when you have people around like that and have a chance to talk to him and see how they do their thing, it’s always a good thing.”
Mixed results: Michael Choice's solid spring continued on Monday with a pinch-hit triple. Choice came in as a defensive substitute in the top of the sixth inning and then tripled in the bottom half. ... But while that was a good at-bat, his next one wasn't. Choice struckout on three pitches, unable to advance any runners. Choice is 4-for-10 in Cactus League games and, for the most part, has hit the ball hard, even on outs.
Web gem: Brent Lillibridge continues to make sure he's noticed early in spring training. While he didn't do much with the bat on Monday, he made a dazzling play on a ground ball hit by David Adams. Lillibridge, playing shortstop, ranged into the hole and made a long throw to first to get Adams by a step. It was an impressive play by the utility player, who continues to turn some heads.
Situational hitting: It may not have been the prettiest of hits, but Rangers' DH Mitch Moreland did his job in the second. With a runner at third and one out, Moreland hit a chopper out in front of the plate to score a hard-charging Alex Rios. It's those kinds of plays that hitting coach Dave Magadan is focused on improving this spring. Moreland got another chance in the fourth, with runners at the corners and one out. He hit a grounder to the right side and the Indians could not turn a double play, allowing Beltre to score.
Patient at-bat: Shin-Soo Choo is still looking for his first hit of spring training, but the leadoff hitter got on base for the first time in a Cactus League game on Monday, drawing a walk on a 3-2 pitch in the third.
Briefly: Former Ranger Jeff Francoeur had two hits and two RBIs against his old team. ... Alex Rios was 2-for-2 and is now 3-for-8 in Cactus League games. ... Jurickson Profar beat out a throw to first in the eighth to drive in a run.
The veteran knows that’s going to take time, which is why he was disappointed, but not disheartened by a short outing Monday. Lewis couldn’t make it through his lone inning of work, walking two batters and giving up two runs on two hits.
Lewis’ command was off, which didn’t surprise him.
“I knew it was going to be a little bit of an issue, even in the bullpen sessions, that my stride is so much longer having so much more range in my right hip,” Lewis said. “I’m just going to have to have more reps to find a release point.”
Lewis’ velocity was 87 to 89 mph, just like it was last week in his lone inning in the intrasquad game. And he was pleased with his slider, which he said had some “bite.” He got his lone strikeout with the pitch, getting Mike Aviles to swing and miss. But Lewis said he was getting more left-to-right movement rather than up and down on too many pitches.
“Everything feels good, the ball feels great out of my hand, but at the other end it’s the inconsistencies,” Lewis said. “I‘ll hit it good and the next time, it’s off by six or eight inches or a foot. I need to get that delivery a little more repeatable. That’s what makes good pitchers. They can repeat.”
Lewis said he may look at video to see what exactly he’s doing, though he admits he’s always been more of a feel pitcher.
“It’s just one of those things that I felt like more reps that I get, the better it’s going to be,” Lewis said.
Parrino has played second base, third baes, shortstop, left field and right field in the big leagues. The 28-year-old played in 14 games for the A's last season and was also in the majors with San Diego in 2011 and 2012. He was at Triple-A Sacramento for most of last season, batting .210 with four homers and 36 RBIs in 108 games. He has a career .186 average in the majors in 93 games (194 at-bats).
Parrino is expected to be in camp Tuesday.
Holland is still rehabbing from knee surgery and has not yet joined the club in Arizona.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.