Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Reaction: Julio Borbon fails to execute
By Richard Durrett
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington was not happy with Julio Borbon's inability to get a squeeze bunt down in the 10th inning of the Rangers' 7-6 win over the Kansas City Royals.
It's rare that you get an opportunity like that in a spring training game with a player at the plate that would need to do it at times in the regular season (should he make the club). So Washington tried to take advantage and put the squeeze play on. Borbon bunted the first pitch foul. After taking a ball, he bunted the 1-1 offering foul, as well, and eventually struck out with Matt Kata at third and one out.
Washington said sometimes the first attempt goes foul.
"The second time, that's no excuse," Washington said. "You get a second shot, you're not supposed to miss it."
Washington talked to Borbon about it right after the play, clearly frustrated that the outfielder couldn't execute.
"[There's] no excuse for not bunting," Washington said. "That's their job. And if they can't do that..."
Borbon wasn't the only player on the field Wednesday vying for a spot on the 25-man roster.
Craig Gentry started in center field and batted second. Gentry has battled injuries and ailments this spring and has not been able to get in any kind of rhythm. But after feeling light-headed and coming out of Sunday's game in Tempe, Gentry played the second-half of Tuesday's game and started Wednesday.
Manager Ron Washington talked to Gentry this week, encouraging him to run the bases with more aggression and get himself in gear for the season. The 28-year-old beat a relay throw on a double play in the fourth and didn't waste any time stealing second base. But in his attempt to stay aggressive, Gentry tried to go to third with two outs on a ball in the dirt (with Michael Young at the plate) and was thrown out.
Gentry came up with two outs and two runners on in the sixth and wasn't able to do anything, grounding out to second base. He's expected to get some more chances at center in the next few games. He was the favorite to get the right-handed center field spot going into spring, but he has not seized the position. It's possible Gentry and Julio Borbon both make the roster.
As for utility infield, Alberto Gonzalez got a chance to play shortstop with Elvis Andrus resting his tight hip flexor muscle. And Gonzalez took advantage. He had a single in the second and a double and a run scored in the fourth. Batting ninth, he came up with the bases loaded in the sixth inning and hit a fly ball to the wall in left. It was caught by Alex Gordon for a long sacrifice fly.
Gonzalez also made the routine defensive plays hit to him Wednesday.
Holland says he was better than numbers: Rangers starter Derek Holland said that despite the line (5 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 2 BBs, 3 Ks, 99 pitches, 66 strikes), he was pleased with the way he threw.
"I was throwing a lot of sinkers on both sides of the plate, and that was the plan to work on the ride back," Holland said.
Holland gave up two home runs, including one to Billy Butler that flew over the fence at the top of the berm and onto Bullard Avenue.
"He hit it about 800 feet," Holland said.
Washington said he wasn't sure it was that long, but it "seemed like it was shot out of a cannon."
Holland said he threw a sinker, and Butler blasted it.
The two walks were the first two free passes Holland has thrown all spring.
"My velocity was there and I felt good," Holland said. "If this was the regular season, I would have been upset. But I'm working on the sinker and doing some things."
That hurts: Michael Young tried to glove a low throw by Holland as Jason Bourgeois ran through the first-base bag. Young wasn't able to get to it, and in the process appeared to hurt his hand. He took his glove off and was shaking it off. Athletic trainer Jamie Reed came on the field briefly, but Young was fine. ...Nelson Cruz was hit in the hand by a pitch that was close to his chin in the third. He stayed in the game (after Reed once again got a chance to trot onto the field), but then left after the fifth.
Triple-homer-triple: David Murphy hit what appeared to be a home run in the second, though it wasn't called that way, and he slid into third. It was then called a homer, and Murphy trotted home. But after an umpire's conference, Murphy was sent back to third with a triple. I'm still not sure exactly where the ball hit in straightaway center, but it was a nice shot by Murphy. He scored one pitch later on Yorvit Torrealba's single.
Oops: Ian Kinsler charged a ground ball and slipped, falling forward as Brayan Pena made it to first base safely. Kinsler was smiling as he got up. It was scored an infield hit. After the game, Kinsler laughed when asked about it (Young laughed, too). "I don't even know where to start in describing that play," Kinsler said. "That's a play that happens in Arizona."
Gentry on the run: Washington wanted to see Gentry run the bases more and he let his center field candidate know that this week. Gentry beat out a relay throw on a double play (1B Eric Hosmer was off the bag) and then stole second. Gentry then tried to get to third on a ball in the dirt and was thrown out. Still, Gentry was trying to be aggressive on the bases, and that's what he needs to be doing. He came up with two on and two outs in the sixth and couldn't do much, grounding to second to end the inning.
Walk in the park: Mike Napoli, the DH on Wednesday, walked three times. He has a team-high 13 walks in Cactus League games and now leads the Cactus League in that category.
Nice bunt: Yorvit Torrealba came up with runners and first and second and no outs in the sixth and put down a perfect bunt toward third base. The ball stayed on the grass and Torrealba was able to record a hit and move the runners up, loading the bases.
Odds and ends: Brad Hawpe hit a double in the ninth and the Rangers ended up tying it on a passed ball (after Hawpe was removed for a pinch runner). ...Mike Adams retired all three batters he faced. ...Every starter in the lineup for the Rangers got on base at least once. ...Matt Kata made a great defensive play, diving to make a stop and then throwing the runner out from his back. He then had the go-ahead double in the 1oth.