Monday, March 15, 2010
Game thoughts: Harden, Hamilton, et al
Rich Harden's line didn't look to good, but his fastball was better than in his last outing.
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- In the effort of full disclosure, I did not see parts of Monday's game because I was in the clubhouse talking to Rich Harden and Josh Hamilton about their respective nights. But from what I did see, here are some random thoughts:
* Rich Harden said it best: "I threw some good pitches today and I threw some bad ones." Still, the thing most fans were watching on Monday were the radar gun readings. And they showed a pitcher that threw his fastball consistently at 90-92 mph, which is much faster than previously this spring. Harden was never worried about the velocity and chuckled at the hubbub about it. His line doesn't look good -- 5 runs on 5 hits with three walks and four strikeouts -- but he's not concerned about it. He was working on off-speed stuff for much of the outing and was happy with that.
Manager Ron Washington was pleased with Harden's changeup.
* CF Julio Borbon made a nice diving catch toward the wall as he tracked down a two-out fly ball with two men on base. Borbon got a huge hand and plenty of congratulations from his teammates. He also had a walk and a hit that was taken away by a nice stab on a line drive down the third-base line.
* RHP Doug Mathis struggled with his command. He had four walks and two strikeouts in two innings of work coming on in relief of Harden.
* RF Nelson Cruz hit his first spring homer. It came on the first pitch he saw on Monday and was a shot to straightaway center field. He showed some patience in his next at-bat, drawing a 5-pitch walk. Cruz is batting .417 this spring.
* DH Vladimir Guerrero went the other way in the third inning for a sacrifice fly. Guerrero did what he needed to do to score a run, flying out in foul territory. But he didn't have a hit in the game.
* The more I see of Matt Brown, the more I like him. He isn't flashy, but he gets the job done. He had two hard hits on Monday, including one the other way. He plays hard and finds a way to get hits. He's worth keeping an eye on.
* Utility infield candidate Esteban German got a chance to play shortstop for the final three innings of the game. It was the third or fourth time he's had some mop-up duty there. He made a great play, diving to his right to snag a ball in the hole and then flip it to second base to get a force out (it would have been a double play if not for a Marcus Lemon throw that pulled Justin Smoak off the bag). German was also was alert on cut off throws.
* Enwar Ramirez made his Rangers debut on Monday and gave up one run on three hits. But he had no walks and three strikeouts and showed some life on his fastball in 1 1/3 innings of work.
* Mitch Moreland drew a walk and Justin Smoak pounded a double to the wall in right-center to score him in the eighth. Smoak needed that. He's been struggling some this spring.