Texas Rangers: Jurickson Profar
San Diego Padres in Thursday's Cactus League game. It was his third extra-base hit of the spring.
It's clear the Rangers want to get Profar as many at-bats as possible this spring. Because shoulder soreness slowed him down a bit, most of those at-bats have come at DH early in the spring before he transitions fully back to second base. Profar's bat has been solid. He's 9-for-29 with two doubles, a homer and 10 RBIs. Sure, some of those at-bats have been late in games against minor leaguers from other teams. But at this point, it's about getting plate appearances for Profar.
There's a reason Profar was the No. 1 prospect in baseball last season. But that was only on display in glimpses in 2013. He hit .234 with six homers and 26 RBIs in 85 games (286 at-bats) last season as he moved around to a variety of positions without a regular spot.
That, of course, is the big question. Can Profar prove that all of the things written about his future will materialize in the present? The Rangers clearly believe Profar can live up to at least some of those expectations, trading Ian Kinsler to Detroit for Prince Fielder, allowing Profar the opening to start at second.
Profar, for his part, has not used the fact that he bounced around to different spots last year as a reason for his struggles.
"I'm not a guy that makes excuses," Profar said earlier this offseason. He said his focus is on learning from 2013 and getting better in 2014.
Manager Ron Washington has been pleased with Profar's progress on defense this spring, as he has worked on his foot work and learning some of the intricacies of second base, including developing chemistry with Elvis Andrus. Profar is throwing again and the next few weeks will be big for him in the field as he and Andrus try to get as much time together in games as they can.
But for all the talk of the top five spots in the Rangers' order, how Profar does in that bottom group -- not to mention how he does defensively at second base -- will have an impact on how balanced this lineup can be. It's time for Profar to move from prospect to player.
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Nate Adcock, a 26-year-old non-roster right-handed pitcher considered a long shot to make the Texas Rangers this spring, was eating breakfast in the clubhouse when Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson asked if he could join him.
For 10 or 15 minutes, Adcock and 25-year-old catcher Brett Nicholas, invited to big league camp after a solid Double-A season, peppered Wilson with questions.
“We just wanted to be a sponge and soak it all in,” Adcock said. “He was telling us about his day and that he gets in at 5:45 in the morning and doesn’t leave until 7 [p.m.]. He puts in a lot of hard work and a lot of hours.
That’s the reason the Rangers selected Wilson in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft in December. They paid $12,000 to grab him from the Colorado Rockies.
The investment was for days like Monday.
After breakfast, Wilson stretched his arm and joined manager Ron Washington for the daily extra infield practice. Tucked back on a half-field, with plenty of cameras clicking, Wilson listened intently as Washington put him through a variety of individual infield drills.
“He surprised me for not being out on the baseball field for a while,” Washington said. “I might have burned his legs up a little bit, but he made it through all the drills and did a fantastic job. He’s got tremendous aptitude. That’s why he is who he is. You give him something and he knows how to apply it.”
Wilson stretched with the team, chatting with regulars Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar. He then took grounders with the rest of the infielders as part of the team fundamental drills. Several hundred fans, many of them dressed in Seahawks colors and a few of them with handmade signs thanking him for the Super Bowl victory, cheered as he scooped up balls and practiced flips to second base to start double plays and throws to first to finish them. Wilson watched as some of the club’s players in the lineup for today’s game took batting practice.
He’s expected to be in uniform and watch from the dugout during the club’s Cactus League game with the Cleveland Indians and then talk to the media. He’ll also spend some time with some of the club’s minor leaguers and then will eat a private dinner with some of the team’s core players.
There's no set timetable for that at this point.
* LF Shin-Soo Choo is not in the lineup because of what assistant GM Thad Levine called "spring training arm." Choo's triceps muscle is a little sore, so he's listed as day-to-day. The club does not believe it's serious. Read more here.
* RHP Rafael Perez (hamstring strain) is expected to throw a live batting practice Sunday.
* RHP Tanner Scheppers (back tightness) is scheduled to throw two innings in Sunday's Cactus League game against the White Sox.
* RHP Nick Tepesch (back tightness) is scheduled to throw Monday in a Cactus League game.
* OF Leonys Martin (back tightness) was cleared for baseball activities, but is not in the lineup Sunday.
* 2B Jurickson Profar (shoulder tendinitis) threw to bases Saturday and has not had any setbacks as he continues to progress. He isn't quite ready to play second base in games yet.
DH Jurickson Profar (S)
2B Brent Lillibridge
1B Prince Fielder (L)
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Brad Snyder (L)
C J.P. Arencibia
CF Michael Choice
LF Engel Beltre (L)
SS Adam Rosales
LHP Robbie Ross
RHP Tanner Scheppers
RHP Joakim Soria
RHP Neftali Feliz
RHP Armando Rodriguez
RHP Cory Burns
RHP Nate Adcock
WHITE SOX LINEUP
CF Adam Eaton (L)
2B Leury Garcia (S)
1B Jose Abreu
LF Dayan Viciedo
DH Mike McDade (S)
3B Conor Gillaspie (L)
SS Alexei Ramirez
C Tyler Flowers
2B Gordon Beckham
RHP Felipe Paulino
LHP Scott Snodgress
RHP Brian Omogrosso
LHP Charlie Leesman
RHP Deunte Heath
LHP David Purcey
RHP Chris Bassitt
RHP Nestor Molina
RHP Zach Putnam
The 24-year-old outfielder continues to hit the ball well and make smart decisions on the bases, looking like a player focused on compelling the Texas Rangers to at least ponder putting him on their big league roster.
The Rangers must decide if it's in their best interest to let Choice play every day in the minors or have his bat off the bench when needed.
That call is still at least a few weeks away.
In the meantime, Choice is going about showing why he has so much promise.
On Saturday, he got to face his old team and didn't waste any time making an impact in a game against the Oakland Athletics that was stopped after nine innings in a 2-2 tie.
Choice smacked the first pitch he saw from right-handed starter Sonny Gray into left-center for a double.
He went from first to third in the fourth on a single by Rougned Odor. Choice said it was a hit-and-run call with two strikes, but with two outs he knew to keep running. His hustle got him to third when Odor's short fly to left dropped in.
"I feel like I'm seeing the ball well," Choice said. "That goes to the work that goes on in the cages, working with all our hitting guys in the morning and focusing on really honing in and getting prepared for the season."
Choice said he's taking what he's doing in those morning sessions, designed to keep his swing short, and apply them to the games.
"I'm letting all the hard work we prepare in the mornings play out instead of trying to do too much," said Choice, who also credits his routine in the cages that has him more comfortable. "I'm getting into the flow of the game.
"Sometimes you get tense and try to do too much. Why prepare a short swing early and then get big in the game? Before I step in the box, I relax everything and focus on the things I've been working on."
Kirkman's Ks: Michael Kirkman pitched two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out two. He struck out Yoenis Cespedes on a nice curve ball and he got Nate Freiman to swing at a change that Kirkman says acts like a splitter.
"He's always had the stuff," Washington said. "It's about consistency. He just has to get the consistency."
Teaching moment: Rangers manager Ron Washington wasn't thrilled that Jose Felix failed to get a bunt down on a suicide squeeze late in the game. Felix got a pitch he could deal with, but missed it and Alex Castellanos, running from third, was tagged out.
"He has to get that bunt down," Washington said. "It's all part of the learning process."
Perez's sinker: If there was one thing that Martin Perez (two innings pitched, one run, one strikeout, one walk) wants to improve upon, it's his sinker. He said the pitch moved too much, allowing hitters to lay off and take it for a ball. It's something he said he'll refine between outings.
Double-play combo: Second baseman Odor and shortstop Luis Sardinas, the double-play combo in Double-A Frisco when the season ended, turned their first double play of the Cactus League. It came off the bat of Michael Taylor and Odor made a quick flip to Sardinas, who converted to Mitch Moreland at first. It's likely both players will be together in Frisco again when the season starts, though that hasn't been decided yet.
Nice at-bat: Jurickson Profar was the leadoff hitter on Saturday and fell behind 0-2. But he fouled off a pitch and then showed some good discipline, taking four balls out of the strike zone to draw a walk. It was a patience at-bat, though Profar ended up stranded at third.
Rios in right: Alex Rios got his first action in right field of the spring, now that his toe is fine. He caught a fly ball and was 0-for-3 at the plate with two strikeouts. He did steal a base in the first moments after his hustle to first eliminated a double play chance.
Too aggressive: Engel Beltre had a rough day on the bases. He was caught stealing in the third after getting a poor jump (perhaps a moist infield played a part in that) and then tried to go from first to third on a Mitch Moreland hit to center and was thrown out easily.
The Rangers lineup includes Alex Rios in right field for the first time this spring. His toe feels better and he was the DH on Friday. Martin Perez gets the start for the Rangers on the mound. The lineups:
DH Jurickson Profar (S)
CF Engel Beltre (L)
RF Alex Rios
1B Mitch Moreland (L)
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff
LF Michael Choice
C Robinson Chirinos
2B Rougned Odor (L)
SS Luis Sardinas (S)
LHP Martin Perez
LHP Michael Kirkman
RHP Wilmer Font
LHP Neal Cotts
RHP Jason Frasor
LHP Aaron Poreda
RHP Lisalverto Bonilla
CF Coco Crisp
SS Nick Punto
RF Josh Reddick
DH Yoenis Cespedes
3B Alberto Callaspo
C Derek Norris
1B Nate Freiman
LF Michael Taylor
2B Eric Sogard
RHP Sonny Gray
LHP Drew Pomeranz
RHP Luke Gregerson
LHP Fernando Abad
RHP Deryk Hooker
Profar threw out to 70 feet Thursday and Friday morning, he added underhand flips and short throws to second as if he were starting double plays and said his shoulder felt fine.
The plan is to continue to progress and throw more each day.
* CF Leonys Martin is listed as day-to-day with back tightness, something that several Rangers players have dealt with this spring.
* RHP Tanner Scheppers (back tightness) reported no issues after his live batting practice session Thursday.
* RHP Nick Tepesch (back tightness) had no issues after his live batting practice session Friday.
* LHP Matt Harrison (back) threw Thursday and felt fine. He'll continue to slowly ramp up.
"I didn't overdo it," Harrison said. "But I did let it go a little bit and gave it some oomph to test the back out."
Harrison isn't sure what is next on his rehab plan but said his back felt "great" and he hopes to continue to ramp up.
Other injury notes:
* SS Jurickson Profar (shoulder tendinitis) said he felt fine after his throwing session (he's playing catch and was throwing from 70 feet) Wednesday and will continue to throw.
* RHP Shawn Tolleson (shoulder soreness) and RHP Miles Mikolas (elbow soreness) will see Dr. Shane Seroyer, who works with Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister.
* RHP Tanner Scheppers (back) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session.
* Media relations guru Rich Rice sprained his ankle in a pickup basketball game. He's limping, but still working. Listed as day-to-day.
Yu Darvish gets the start today against left-hander Bruce Chen. For Darvish, it's his first start against hitters who aren't wearing Rangers uniforms. He's slated to throw two innings or 35 pitches.
Manager Ron Washington is starting a bunch of his regulars. Alex Rios (toe) feels better but won't play, and catcher Geovany Soto (foot surgery) is still in a boot. Jurickson Profar (shoulder) will DH. But the lineup should still look familiar:
LF Shin-Soo Choo/Bryan Petersen
SS Elvis Andrus/Josh Wilson
1B Prince Fielder/Jim Adduci
3B Adrian Beltre/Alex Castellanos
DH Mitch Moreland/Jurickson Profar
C J.P. Arencibia/Robinson Chirinos
RF Michael Choice/Brad Snyder
2B Adam Rosales/Brent Lillibridge
CF Leonys Martin/Engel Beltre
RHP Yu Darvish
RHP Tommy Hanson
LHP Ryan Feierabend
RHP Justin Germano
RHP Lisalverto Bonilla
OF Alex Castellanos: $502,000
C Robinson Chirinos: $502,232
RHP Pedro Figueroa: $502,163
RHP Michael Kirkman: $504,576
RHP Miles Mikolas: $502,301
LHP Joseph Ortiz: $504,112
2B Jurickson Profar: $505,750
LHP Robbie Ross: $512,745
RHP Ben Rowen: $500,000
RHP Nick Tepesch: $505,071
RHP Shawn Tolleson: $502,082
RHP Matt West: $500,000
Rangers manager Ron Washington is not concerned about whether Profar will be ready for the start of the season.
"He's getting his work in at second base and hitting," Washington said. "He'll be fine as long as he doesn't have a setback."
* RHP Shawn Tolleson (shoulder) and RHP Miles Mikolas (elbow) are not throwing and are listed as day-to-day. But if they don't show improvement by the weekend, they'll see Dr. Keith Meister, the club's physician.
* LHP Rafael Perez (hamstring strain) will try to play catch Wednesday.
* RF Alex Rios (toe) came out of working out Tuesday feeling fine. He will continue to do all activities but will not play in Thursday's first Cactus League game.
* RHP Tanner Scheppers (back stiffness) is scheduled for a live batting practice session Thursday.
* RHP Nick Tepesch (back stiffness) is scheduled for a live batting practice session Friday.
Shin-Soo Choo (Korea), CF Leonys Martin (Cuba), RF Alex Rios (Puerto Rico).
The infield: 1B Prince Fielder (United States), 2B Jurickson Profar (Curacao), 3B Adrian Beltre (Dominican Republic), SS Elvis Andrus (Venezuela)
The battery: RHP Yu Darvish (Japan), C Geovany Soto (Puerto Rico)
"I'm just putting baseball players out there on the field," Washington said. "I never really thought of that, but you're right."
Washington was asked what it would take for that many cultures to be a cohesive unit.
"The same mindset," Washington said. "Wanting to win, be a good teammate, exhibit good character, attitude, all the things it takes in a normal clubhouse. I think we have those kinds of guys. I don't think our clubhouse is going to be an issue.
"Baseball is baseball. All of those guys are good players and they all have one goal in mind: being the best they can be for each other. That's where the cohesiveness comes in."
LF Shin-Soo Choo
SS Elvis Andrus/Luis Sardinas
1B Ronald Guzman
3B Alex Castellanos
RF Brad Snyder
2B Adam Rosales/Rougned Odor
C J.P. Arencibia/Jose Felix
DH Jurickson Profar
CF Leonys Martin
RHP Yu Darvish
2B Kensuke Tanaka
SS Brent Lillibridge
1B Jim Adduci
DH Rougned Odor
CF Michael Choice
LF Bryan Petersen
3B Josh Wilson
C Robinson Chirinos/Brett Nicholas
RF Engel Beltre
The full list of pitchers (all throwing one inning) is the same as was scheduled Saturday. Click here.
Feliz did make a slight mechanical change, dropping his glove before delivery to better hide the ball as he grips his changeup. So he'll start at the belt, rather than up higher.
But his pace was slowed just a bit by the soreness. The shoulder was fine when he threw Friday, and because of that he's scheduled to have a 10-minute live batting practice session Sunday. It means he's not too far behind the other pitchers.
Other injury news:
* The big one of the day is catcher Geovany Soto having surgery on his foot. You can read more about that here.
* LHP Matt Harrison (back tightness) will return to Texas on Sunday to see Dr. Drew Dossett, a back specialist, on Monday. Harrison said his back felt "100 percent" this morning but isn't sure if that means anything or not. He'll get more tests and be evaluated. But he's certainly going to be behind the rest of the pitchers.
* RHP Derek Holland (knee surgery) is off crutches but won't come to camp until after Dr. Keith Meister has seen him next week. It's unclear when the timetable is for Holland to come to Arizona.
* RHP Tanner Scheppers (back) played catch Friday and felt good. He's now continuing to throw and prepare for the season.
* SS Jurickson Profar (shoulder tendinitis) didn't have any issues with swinging a bat Friday and will continue to do that. He can't throw yet, however.
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