Texas Rangers: Julio Borbon
The Rangers don't think it's serious, and it has nothing to with his arm -- Soria is returning from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.
"He's going great as far as his arm," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "It could be a day or two. It could be longer. We're going to wait and see how it feels after the weekend before we know exactly what kind of impact it will have on his timetable. It has nothing to do with his arm, and that's a good thing."
Other Rangers notes:
More on rehabbing pitchers: Left-hander Martin Perez will begin throwing live batting practice in 7-10 days as he continues rehabbing from a broken left wrist. Right-hander Kyle McClellan, who has a strained right lat muscle, is scheduled to throw on a mound for the first time on May 1.
The Rangers are also excited about right-hander Colby Lewis, who has one or two more batting practice sessions to throw before the Rangers can begin looking to get him out on a rehab assignment.
"He continues to report to feeling really good," Daniels said. "Our pitching coaches are really happy with his progress. He's every bit of on schedule right now."
Berkman back in lineup: Designated hitter Lance Berkman said his surgically-repaired right knee is sore but that he could play a full nine innings at first base when needed.
"I can do it," Berkman said. "I have had some trouble with my knee being sore just from DHing, so I'm a little bit hesitant to say, 'yeah, I can run out there and play three or four nights in a row.' But if you said we absolutely have to have you play first base for a game, I can do it."
Berkman said he didn't have trouble with the knee in spring training, but it is sore after 15 games. "It's definitely worse than it was in spring training," he said. "But it's probably the weather conditions we've been playing in. Cold, wet, barometric pressure."
Washington talks to Borbon: Rangers manager Ron Washington said he spoke briefly with outfielder Julio Borbon, who was claimed on waivers by the Chicago Cubs on Friday. Borbon was the Rangers' Opening Day center fielder in 2010 and '11.
"I told him he doesn't have to prove anything," Washington said. "He's already a big leaguer."
None left on: Thursday's game was the eighth time in club history in which the Rangers didn't leave a man on base. It hadn't happened since July 7, 2007.
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Left-handed pitcher Jeff Beliveau was sent to the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday for cash considerations. Beliveau, who had been optioned to Triple-A Round Rock, was designated for assignment on April 8 to make room for Triple-A catcher Robinson Chirinos in a separate deal with the Rays.
As for Borbon, the Rangers continue to try to deal the 27-year-old outfielder, who was designated for assignment last Tuesday. They have 10 days to trade him or put him on waivers, so the clock is ticking. Borbon would have to clear waivers before the Rangers can send him to Round Rock, but that is not expected to happen.
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Borbon was able to beat the odds and make the club after batting .317 in 32 games in spring training. But he was the odd man out with Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin also having great springs and sharing center field.
"We had some teams during the spring check in on him," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said of Borbon. "We weren't really in a rush to do anything. He's a big league player. There just wasn't the spot or the opportunity here at this time. There's no doubt in my mind he can play in the big leagues."
Borbon appeared in one game for the Rangers this season, going 0-for-1 with a run scored as a pinch runner April 3 at Houston. He has spent his entire career with the organization since being picked by Texas in the supplemental first round (35th overall) of the 2007 June draft.
Borbon was resigned to the idea Monday. Borbon is out of options, so the Rangers will have 10 days to outright, release or trade the 27-year center fielder if they designate him for assignment.
"Tomorrow we have moves," Borbon said. "It's a matter of seeing where they go with it. I've enjoyed the fact that I'm here."
Borbon's agent, Scott Boras, said last week when he was in Arlington for the announcement of shortstop Elvis Andrus' contract extension that he had been talking to three or four teams that were interested in Borbon.
Borbon has played parts of three seasons for the Rangers, including a career-high 137 games in 2010, the first year the club made it to the World Series. Borbon played in eight postseason games, including getting two at-bats against the San Francisco Giants, and batted .111. He played the entire season in 2012 at Round Rock.
Borbon has been a great teammate and hasn't complained once, manager Ron Washington said.
"He was climbing up a slippery slope," Washington said. "He's a class act. He came in with his back so far up against the wall. He came off without any blood. You have to give him credit."
Borbon has had one at-bat in six games and has scored a run.
Other Rangers notes:
Darvish update: Washington's said pitcher Yu Darvish's blister on his right ring finger wasn't as serious against the Los Angeles Angels as it was in his first start against Houston. Darvish is on schedule to start Friday at Seattle.
"It's not something that's going to be an issue every time he takes the ball," Washington said.
Tepesch set for debut: Washington said he has already talked to Tepesch about his debut and won't say much more before Tepesch takes the mound Tuesday.
"I'll tell him good luck and maybe whisper a few things in his ear," Washington said.
Berkman in the field: Just six games into the season, Washington said it's too soon for Lance Berkman to get his first game in the field. The day will come when the manager needs to rest one of his regulars, but the Rangers have already had two off days. Berkman is coming back from two knee surgeries.
Bullpen going strong: The Rangers' bullpen, a question mark after being rebuilt in the offseason, has been a pleasant surprise. Rangers relievers have a 2.35 ERA through 15 1/3 innings and have combined for 16 strikeouts and three walks.
For the 22-year-old Ortiz, who came out of nowhere this spring to make the club, it was an emotional moment.
"If we had kept him in that room a little longer, he might have started crying," Washington said of the moments immediately after Ortiz learned he had made the team.
Washington admits he knew nothing about Ortiz going into the spring, only what scouts and minor league coaches told him. Ortiz has allowed one run in 11 innings. He has 11 strikeouts and only one walk.
"He got outs," Washington said. "He got outs by attacking. He wasn't afraid of the strike zone. He wasn't afraid of the hitters that walked up."
Ortiz makes it two years in a row that a shorter-than-6-foot left-handed reliever has surprised everyone by making the Opening Day roster. Last season it was Robbie Ross, who also is back in the bullpen. This year it is Ortiz, who admitted to getting misty-eyed when Washington broke the news to him.
"There were some tears in my eyes when he told me the news," Ortiz said. "No one expected this, especially here in Arlington. It's special news for me. My father was especially waiting for this day. He is happy for me."
Scheppers, who appeared in 39 games last season for the Rangers, came on strong at the end of the spring after dealing with a tight right hamstring early in camp. Scheppers didn't allow a run in his final five spring outings.
"When it mattered, he showed up," Washington said. "He earned his way on, too."
Scheppers, who fought inconsistency last season, is the Rangers' power arm out of the bullpen. With what is basically a new bullpen with no roles defined yet -- Washington made it clear Thursday that no one has been "anointed to a bullpen role" -- Scheppers has a chance to pitch his way into a late-inning spot.
"God blessed me with a power arm," Scheppers said. "I have to get outs. The roles will be defined as the year goes on."
Other team notes:
Houston is starting right-hander Bud Norris in the opener, so the start points in the left-handed hitting Martin's direction. But Gentry has more experience, having played in 121 games last season. Gentry also started Thursday's exhibition game against Mexico City against right-handed starter David Reyes.
"There's no clear-cut guy," Washington said. "Both guys have shown improvement. Both guys have showed they can help us win ballgames."
Manager Ron Washington announced after Wednesday's game that Alexi Ogando is his No. 3 starter and Derek Holland is the No. 4. Holland will start the home opener April 5 against the Angels, but Washington said that did not play into his decision at all. Nick Tepesch earned the fifth-starter job out of training camp, but that was largely because choices were limited by the spring injuries to Martin Perez and Kyle McClellan, and because Colby Lewis is still recovering from surgery. Lewis and Perez could be back by the end of May. Will one of them unseat Tepesch? Good outings between now and then would make the choice much easier. Tepesch struggled in his previous two spring outings when he faced better-caliber hitters, but he pitched well Wednesday in a minor league game for Round Rock (Triple-A).
We know Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry will share time in center and also see time in the outfield corners. We still don't know who will start Opening Day or who will see more playing time, as manager Ron Washington said he isn't announcing a platoon. Outfield is a strong position for Texas, so this is a case of finding time for good players instead of making the best of a bad situation.
Julio Borbon remains in purgatory, as he is out of options and cannot be sent to the minors. President of baseball operations/general manager Jon Daniels said he has talked to teams about Borbon and there is interest. The Rangers will try to trade him before making a roster decision. The Rangers might keep Borbon when they break camp, adding an extra bat to their roster until they need to officially sign Tepesch as the fifth starter for the April 9 game against Tampa. That window will be much tighter if Texas decides to add an eighth reliever instead.
The final two of the seven bullpen slots have not been announced. Those will fall into place after the Rangers decide whether they want to take an extra arm or bat until the April 9 game. If they go with a bat, the final two will be named. If they go with an arm, three more will get the nod. Whoever they choose might be placeholders for Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz, who are both expected to join the bullpen later this season.
Leury Garcia earned the backup middle-infield role, meaning top prospect Jurickson Profar will begin the season in the minors. The question is, how long will Profar stay there? If Garcia struggles -- remember, he is a rookie, too -- will Profar get the nod? Also, Profar has only 33 days of service time, and allowing him to get more experience at Triple-A stops the clock for a longer period of time. With three Gold Glove players in the Texas infield, there is no rush to bring the super rookie up. However, if he tears up Triple-A pitching, the temptation to have him in Arlington might be too strong to resist.
The Rangers' lineup for today's game:
SS Elvis Andrus
CF Leonys Martin
1B Mitch Moreland
RF Nelson Cruz
C A.J. Pierzynski
LF Julio Borbon
3B Yangervis Solarte
2B Leury Garcia
P Derek Holland
LHP Derek Holland
LHP Robbie Ross
LHP Joe Ortiz
RHP Josh Lindblom
CF Chris Denorfia
SS Everth Cabrera
LF Jesus Guzman
1B Yonder Alonso
2B Jedd Gyorko
C Nick Hundley
3B Cody Ransom
RF Will Venable
P Jason Marquis
RHP Jason Marquis
RHP Dale Thayer
RHP Tim Stauffer
RHP Huston Street
The Rangers' lineup for today's game:
DH Julio Borbon
LF Craig Gentry
C A.J. Pierzynski
RF Nelson Cruz
3B Yangervis Solarte
CF Leonys Martin
SS Jurickson Profar
1B Brandon Allen
2B Leury Garcia
LHP Matt Harrison
RHP Nick Tepesch
LHP Neal Cotts
RHP Josh Lindblom
RHP Yoshinori Tateyama
LHP Nate Robertson
LF Willy Tavares
SS Alcides Escobar
1B Eric Hosmer
C Salvador Perez
RF Jeff Francoeur
3B Miguel Tejada
DH Max Ramirez
2B Johnny Giavotella
CF Luis Durango
RHP Luis Mendoza
LHP John Lamb
LHP Tim Collins
RHP Kelvin Herrera
RHP Louis Coleman
RHP Michael Mariot
RHP Blaine Boyer
Borbon will make $496,000, Beltre earns $490,000 and Lindblom gets $500,100. Of the four, Gentry is the highest paid at $501,000.
That means all 40 players on the major league roster are now under contract for 2013.
Here's more about the four players from the club's release:
Lindblom was acquired from Philadelphia on December 6 in the deal that sent infielder Michael Young to the Phillies. The righthander was 3-5 with a 3.55 ERA in 74 appearances with the Dodgers and Phillies in 2012.
Beltre was with Double-A Frisco last season, batting .261 with 13 homers and 55 RBI in 133 games. Borbon spent all of 2012 at Triple-A Round Rock, hitting .304 with 10 homers and 56 RBI in 126 games. Gentry batted .304 with one homer and 26 RBI over 121 games in his first full season with Texas.
Right-hander Randy Wells will start Saturday and lefty Matt Harrison gets the start Sunday.
Here are the other pitchers slated for those games:
Friday: LHP Robbie Ross, RHP Alexi Ogando
Saturday: LHP Michael Kirkman
Sunday: RHP Nick Tepesch
The rest of the pitchers will be listed closer to game time.
* The club has scheduled an intrasquad game for today at noon local time (1 p.m. CT). It has been raining this morning, but is simply overcast at the moment. The tarp is on Field 1, so it's still possible that the game will be played.
* Dave Magadan is currently holding his first full hitters meeting. He has, of course, been working with each of them individually a lot already.
* Happy Birthday to Jurickson Profar (20) and Julio Borbon (27).
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A look at six things that went on in Surprise today, in case you missed it.
1. Derek Holland is taking on a more serious tone this season. That's not to say he still won't do impersonations (he did one of Tim Kurkjian today), but he's focused more on what he has to do on and off the field. As pitching coach Mike Maddux put it, it's focusing on all five days of his rotation, not just a day or two during that stretch. I think Holland is the tipping point in this rotation.
2. Elvis Andrus arrived at camp and discussed his contract situation. He said he's simply focused on preparing for the season.
3. Julio Borbon is out of options and has one last chance to show what he's got.
4. Mike Maddux talked about the bullpen favorites and how things look at spring starts.
5. Why is Jason Frasor jealous of Joe Nathan?
6. Our fifth-starter candidate blog series continues with a look at Martin Perez.
He went to Aliso Viejo, Calif., and worked on building his strength and giving his mind a break at the Boras Sports Training Institute (BSTI) with other Scott Boras clients.
“I trained with a bunch of guys there,” said Borbon, who hit .304 last year in Triple-A Round Rock and played the entire season there. “I decided to get ready physically and mentally going into this important year.”
Borbon is out of options. He either makes the club this year or he’s likely elsewhere because he’d have to clear waivers to be sent to the minors. And let’s be honest: He’s an underdog to make the team. He’s third right now in the center field pecking order behind Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry. It would seem his best chance to end up on the squad is as a fifth outfielder, but Mike Olt could end up designated for that spot depending on what happens in the infield. We’ll see.
“There’s a pretty uncharacteristic situation with the outfielders here, so there’s no telling or predicting anything at this point other than performing,” Borbon said. “I’ve got to go out there and play hard.”
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Borbon never did return to form or the big leagues after that.
He knows he has a lot to prove, but he feels good about the opportunity.
“I’m not worried,” Borbon said. “I think I’m in a good position this year in terms of what I’m going into. It’s in my hands, not anybody else’s. I have to come out and play. It’s my sixth spring training. I’m very comfortable around here. There might be some faces gone and some new faces, but the main core is here. I’m not feeling out of place. I’m ready to go. All I want to do is get a fair shot and play as hard as I can. That’s all I’m going to tell myself.”
Rangers manager Ron Washington said he wants to see Borbon stay focused.
“I want to see focus for the whole spring and the whole season,” Washington said. “He sometimes loses focus and throws to the wrong base, misses the cutoff man, gets picked off.”
Washington said he hopes to see a player that is reacting out there and not thinking too much. Someone who is confident and knows that he’s supposed to do. We’ll see if Borbon can show that this spring.
|Triple-A Round Rock hitting coach Brant Brown talks about the team's start and the developments of Leonys Martin and Julio Borbon.
"Mechanically, there's a lot of things that he's cleaned up that allows him to be a little more efficient to the baseball and then mentally kind of easing in to the way we play, the way things are, and getting used to his comrades," Round Rock hitting coach Brant Brown said. "Obviously, the hot start has helped with confidence."
Brown was a Saturday morning guest on Rangers Magazine (ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM). Later that night in New Orleans, Martin went 2-for-3 with a double, a two-run home run and three RBIs. He also walked once. The home run was his third of the season, and his batting average is up to .359.
Brown also coached Martin last season for 29 games at Double-A Frisco, where Martin batted .348 with four home runs and 24 RBI. He was promoted to Round Rock on July 9. On the field, Brown saw Martin last year make just one error in 71 outfield chances.
"I think the best thing about him is his arm, of course," said Brown, a former major league outfielder for the Cubs, Pirates and Marlins. "I think lateral movement and movement back and forth ... I think we can always improve on that. I believe that he knows that. His energy levels have been a lot better than they were last year. We are just hoping to see more consistency from that aspect."
Brown also discussed his own transition from being the hitting coach at Double-A Frisco to being at Round Rock, Julio Borbon, and working with Mike Bianucci and Tommy Mendonca.
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Alberto Gonzalez has been named the club's utility infielder, beating out Luis Hernandez. Brandon Snyder, a longshot when he arrived in camp, has secured a bench spot along with center fielder Craig Gentry.
Gentry, a right-handed hitter, will likely get playing time in center against lefties, with Josh Hamilton shifting over to left. Against right-handers, Hamilton should get the majority of time in center with David Murphy in left.
"We decided to keep Gentry over Borbon because Gentry is a right-handed hitter and we needed his bat to mix and match," manager Ron Washington told The Associated Press. "Gonzales is staying with us because he has experience sitting around at the major league level and Hernandez needs to play every day."
Gonzalez, 28, was signed as a free agent in December after playing 102 games for the San Diego Padres in 2011. He was released at the end of the season and has 378 major league games (839 at-bats) in his career. He can play second, third and shortstop and has even played part of one big league game in right field, though he's an infielder for the Rangers.
Snyder, 25, was acquired for cash considerations in a trade with Baltimore on Jan. 3. He was a catcher his first few professional seasons but also played some third base. During spring training, Snyder played third and also got a few games as a corner outfielder. Washington said Sunday that he wasn't comfortable putting Snyder in the outfield for long durations at this point, but that with some more work with outfield coach Gary Pettis on reading and reacting to balls, he would be comfortable doing that in the future.
Snyder gives the club a right-handed bat and some flexibility in that he's the third catcher. Washington said he would be fine playing both Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba in the same lineup and that Snyder could come in a catch for a few innings if needed should one of them get hurt.
The moves leave the club with one more decision: whether to put Yoshinori Tateyama (stiff back) on the disabled list. That seems likely and woulds set bullpen with Mark Lowe and Koji Uehara making it.
The 22-year-old has had a solid spring, impressing coaches with his maturity and a cutter that has broken bats and produced plenty of outs. Ross was the only left-handed reliever left in camp after Neal Cotts strained his left lat muscle. Cotts is expected to go 10 to 14 days without throwing.
Ross split the 2011 season between Class A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco. He was 9-4 with a 2.26 ERA in 123 1/3 innings at Myrtle Beach and 1-1 with a 2.61 ERA in 38 innings (six starts) for Double-A Frisco.
Other roster decisions loom:
* Yoshinori Tateyama has been dealing with a stiff back the past few days and is not pitching Sunday. Manager Ron Washington said it was a "possibility" Tateyama could start the season on the disabled list. If that's the case, than both Mark Lowe and Koji Uehara would be in the bullpen. (Tateyama also has options left).
* The Rangers will break camp with both Alberto Gonzalez and Luis Hernandez with them. They will choose one as a utility infielder but might not make that announcement until closer to when the rosters are due Wednesday morning.
* The club also has the other bench spot to figure out. They are still looking for a right-handed bat but are also sorting through Craig Gentry and Julio Borbon. Brandon Snyder is another right-handed bat still with the club. But Washington admitted that he isn't comfortable putting Snyder in left field right now. But he added that with some more work with coach Gary Pettis, Snyder would be ready out there.
* Snyder is also a third catcher and could give Washington some security in playing both Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba in the same lineup at times. Washington said if a catcher got injured early in the game, he'd likely just lose the DH and play one of his regular catchers. But if it was the seventh inning or so, he could put Snyder in for two innings. That's if Snyder makes the club, of course. Again, nothing has been decided there yet.
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