Reaction: Derek Holland works off-speed
"It says my off-speed stuff is inconsistent, and I know that's true," said Holland, who started the Rangers' 7-6 loss to the Royals as Kansas City scored two in the bottom of the ninth to win it. "That was my goal today. I wanted to work on my off-speed stuff."
Holland said he talked with pitching coach Mike Maddux and manager Ron Washington before the game about his plan. The 25-year-old knows he already has a secure spot in the rotation, but he wants to get better. So he can afford to work on some specific things this spring and not get caught up in the results.
And the results on Monday were solid. He threw 30 pitches in two innings, allowing one run on three hits with no walks and a strikeout. But Holland was focused on how hitters were reacting to this off-speed stuff. He learned a few things:
* His changeup still isn't slow enough. It was around 86 to 88 mph on Monday. He'd like it at 84 mph or so.
"It's still too firm," said Holland, who asked Elvis Andrus about it and Andrus told him the same thing. "I've made some big adjustments and it's softer than last year. My teammates can see it. I need to slow it down a little bit, but I'm getting it over to strikes. I had good action, just a little bit firm."
Holland said he threw the pitch five times or so. He got Alcides Escobar to ground into a double play on the pitch, as well.
* Threw some curve balls and sliders. Holland said he threw some early in the count to both left-handed and right-handed hitters and wasn't afraid to throw sliders behind in the count. He struck out Billy Butler on a 3-2 slider that Butler took for the final strike.
"I need to mix my off-speed stuff in there and be more consistent," Holland said. "I didn't throw the fastball much today because I really wanted to work on the off-speed."
Fielding magic: SS Elvis Andrus made a terrific play to start an inning-ending double play in the third. He dove to his left, nearly behind the second base bag, gloved it and then flipped the ball to second with his glove. Ian Kinsler snagged it and threw to first.
Andrus said he and Kinsler say "oof" every time they make a nice play and they count the number of double plays they turn.
"We lost track last year," Andrus said.
But he knew the total was three through two Cactus League games.
Trio of hits: Andrus had a good day at the plate. He got ahead in all three at-bats (two against Bruce Chen and one against Mike Montgomery) and hit the ball hard. He had two singles and a triple. The triple was to the right-center gap and scored Kinsler. Andrus never stopped, getting to third easily.
Ogando pitching inside: There was no doubt Alexi Ogando's focus was getting his fastball inside.
"That's what I want to do so my slider is more effective away," Ogando said through a translator.
Ogando's fastball was 94 to 97 mph, though at times the command wasn't there. He throws his slider at various speeds -- one hard and one soft. The softer one has some break that makes it look like a curve. Ogando did throw one changeup, but it's a pitch that he doesn't like to throw and is still trying to develop.
Beltre being careful (and smart): Adrian Beltre normally would have scored from second on a single by Nelson Cruz. But the Rangers don't want Beltre or Cruz to push things with their legs this early in spring training. So Beltre didn't run all out to third base (and third base coach Dave Anderson held him up, too). He scored when David Murphy singled in the first.
Rare error: Beltre did have an error on his ledger to go along with a 2-for-2 afternoon with two RBIs. He couldn't get to a hot shot to his left from Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Beltre put his glove out, but the ball bounced under it. It wasn't the easiest of plays, but it's one that Beltre, a Gold Glover in 2011, normally makes.
Nice catch: Outfielder Engel Beltre made a nice running catch toward the wall in the seventh inning. The ball kept carrying, but Beltre ran it down at the warning track.
Snyder solid: Ben Snyder got through his one inning of work with no trouble. He got both of the left-handed hitters he faced on fly outs to left field (including one on the nice catch by Beltre).
Face hit: Tanner Scheppers was hit in the face by a chopper. It was a play he could have made, but he went up to grab it and it hit him in the face instead. He laughed about it and stayed in the game.
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