Texas Rangers: Surprise Six

Surprise Six: Games begin (sort of)

February, 19, 2013
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- It wasn't Cactus League action, but we did have a baseball game with umpires Tuesday. The intrasquad game gave the pitchers a chance to face hitters without any L-screens or cages around.

Six things of note from today:

1. Want some highlights of today's intrasquad game? Click here and read about Alexi Ogando's changeup and what impressed manager Ron Washington about Martin Perez.

2. Yu Darvish is more relaxed and comfortable this year. And it shows.

3. Adrian Beltre has mild inflammation in his right calf and didn't play in the intrasquad game. The club is not concerned about it.

4. Ogando talked about how important that changeup is to him as he goes back into the rotation.

5. Which pitcher has the better year, Derek Holland or Matt Harrison?

6. Tim MacMahon weighs in on Josh Hamilton, saying fans of a real baseball town would boo Hamilton in early April.

Surprise Six: Derek Holland getting serious

February, 14, 2013

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.

Surprise Six: Yu Darvish prepares for 2013

February, 13, 2013

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The media tent set up just outside the Texas Rangers' clubhouse in Surprise was used for the first time Wednesday as Yu Darvish spoke to a small group of media (way smaller than last year).

Most days here at spring training we'll give you a quick recap of the day with links to key stories and blogs. Here goes:

The Rangers are in full training mode in Surprise, Ariz. Ben and Skin discuss which players are key, who needs to step up and more.

Listen Listen
1. Do you think Darvish will be an ace in 2013? I do. I think he'll build off the last two months of the 2012 season. Click here to voice your opinion and read about what he said.

2. Colby Lewis says the plan, barring setbacks, is for him to continue long-tossing out to 150 or 160 feet, which could put him on a mound in early March. That's a good sign for Ranger fans.

3. Backup catcher Geovany Soto is focused on improving his offense and throws to second base. He's motivated.

4. GM Jon Daniels talked about a variety of topics on Tuesday.

5. We're looking at fifth starter candidate in a series of posts. Here's one on Justin Grimm.

6. Tomorrow is Day 2 as pitchers and catchers continue to prepare for the season. A group of position players have already arrived. Adrian Beltre and David Murphy were in camp today.

Surprise Six: Derek Holland signs deal

March, 20, 2012
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Lots going on Tuesday at spring training. Here are six things of note from Tuesday in Surprise (and Mesa, where the Rangers played the Cubs):

1. LHP Derek Holland signs a five-year deal worth $28.5 million with two club options ($11 million in 2016 and $11.5 million in 2017) that could make him a Ranger for seven years. It's a great deal for the Rangers and Holland certainly feels comfortable in Texas, where he was drafted and developed.

2. Neftali Feliz did not go out for his fourth inning on Tuesday after complaining of right shoulder stiffness. He'll be evaluated further in the next few days.

3. Koji Uehara pitched his best inning of the spring Tuesday. And some other thoughts about the game.

4. The Rangers made some more cuts Tuesday, including one of the utility infield candidates.

5. Closer Joe Nathan said he isn't worried about spring results yet, but knows it's time to start putting things together better for the start of the season with just a few weeks left in spring.

6. Wednesday is an off day for the Rangers. It will give some guys a chance to rest before the final push toward the season. We will have some blog entries Wednesday, though not quite as many as a normal day.

Surprise Six: Colby Lewis' perfect day

March, 10, 2012
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitcher Colby Lewis was perfect in four innings against the Chicago White Sox. Here's six things to take away from the Rangers on Saturday.

1. Lewis decided to pitch one more frame than scheduled, but he still didn't allow a hit. He faced the minimum 12 batters in four innings. Lewis struck out five batters, including striking out the side in the second.

2. Craig Gentry left the game in the game with one out in the fifth inning. Manager Ron Washington said it was out of precaution. When Gentry entered the dugout, he said he was fine.

3. Alexi Ogando will pitch in Sunday's B game against the Kansas City Royals. He's scheduled to pitch three innings.

4. Mike Napoli was a late scratch from the lineup. He felt a little soreness in his left groin. The Rangers are calling it mild, but Napoli would've likely played if this was a regular-season game.

5. Yu Darvish threw live batting practice Saturday morning. He's slated to pitch three innings against the Cleveland Indians Tuesday.

6. Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus takes a look at how Neftali Feliz will transition from a reliever to a starter.

Surprise Six: Perez makes his first start

March, 9, 2012
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Martin Perez was on the mound for two innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Here are six things to take away from Rangers spring training Friday:

1. Martin Perez was nervous in his first Cactus League start, but felt he did pretty good. One of the Rangers' top prospects allowed two runs off three hits.

2. Michael Young made his way back into the lineup Friday. He went 1-for-2 at the plate.

3. Manager Ron Washington said outfielder Craig Gentry has improved his bunting this spring, but he hasn't had a chance to show it.

4. Pitching coach Mike Maddux held a closed meeting with Yu Darvish and the rest of the pitchers Friday morning. Darvish and some of the pitchers went to Field 7 after the meeting, where they took part in a competitive game to work on their fielding.

5. Pitcher Joe Nathan was happy with his outing Thursday. Jerry Crasnick was told Nathan's fastball topped out at 94 mph on the ballpark radar gun.

6. Outfielder Conor Jackson left Friday's game in the sixth inning. He was hit above his eye by a fly ball and needed five stitches.

Surprise Six: Neftali Feliz makes first start

March, 8, 2012

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The day after Yu Darvish's start, Neftali Feliz took centerstage. Here are six things from Thursday in Surprise:

Rangers skipper Ron Washington comments on Neftali Feliz's first Cactus League start, as well as his impressions of the rest of the pitching staff. He also explains why he needs Josh Hamilton to stay healthy.

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1. Neftali Feliz worked on his off-speed stuff on Thursday with mixed results. He had a rough first inning, but bounced back with a quick second inning as he got the ball down in the zone better.

2. Will Venable talked to a San Diego radio station about Darvish's comments that Venable's double was wind-aided. Check it out here.

3. The video of Nolan Ryan's memorable brawl with Robin Ventura will not be shown opening weekend with the White Sox in town or much at all in 2012, according to Chuck Morgan.

4. Brad Hawpe did not play in the B game. He'll likely play in a game in a day or two. He said he just pushed it a little too hard in workouts Wednesday.

5. Joe Nathan talked about getting ready for his first spring appearance and how things are going in camp.

6. Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Galloway & Company he didn't care for how Josh Hamilton phrased his comments from his opening news conference, but the club hasn't closed any doors on re-signing Hamilton.

Surprise Six: All Yu Darvish, all the time

March, 7, 2012

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The news Wednesday was all about Yu Darvish, who threw two scoreless innings at Peoria Sports Complex against the San Diego Padres. Here are six things from Rangers spring training Wednesday:

1. Yu Darvish showed good command with his fastball and movement on his breaking pitches as he went two scoreless. He also flashed some defense. Read about all of it here.

2. Here's a breakdown of Darvish's outing, including pitch-by-pitch, and some of my thoughts.

3. Darvish wasn't the only player in the game today. Read about some of the others.

4. Michael Young exited the game a little early because he landed awkwardly on his thumb, but felt fine after the game.

5. David Murphy is working on his approach against lefties.

6. Here's a recap of our live chat from Darvish's outing today.

Surprise Six: Rangers lose spring opener

March, 4, 2012

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals kicked off their Cactus League seasons in front of 7,158 fans. That's a record for the first day of spring training in Surprise. Here are six things from Sunday:

1. Mitch Moreland hit a home run as the Rangers lost 6-1 to the Royals. The homer is a good sign for Moreland, who had surgery on his right wrist this offseason. He made a good swing and punched the ball out. Read about Moreland and others who made a mark in the first spring game.

2. Michael Kirkman's line didn't look great, but he made some good pitches to left-handed hitters and likes the approach he's taking.

3. Rangers manager Ron Washington said the club won't hide Yu Darvish from any AL teams.

4. Matt West says he's ready to start rehab on the sprained ligament in his elbow. Click here for that and all the injury updates.

5. Julio Borbon is one of the center field candidates and he hopes his play at winter ball and a relaxed attitude will help him perform better.

6. LHP Mike Gonzalez declined a non-roster offer from the Rangers and here's some video of Matt Harrison and what he thinks heading into 2012.

Surprise Six: Games ready to begin

March, 3, 2012
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Saturday was the club's final day of workouts before Cactus League games begin. Now, they'll essentially have two-a-days with workouts in the morning followed by games in the afternoon. Here are six things of note from Saturday in Surprise.

1. Rangers manager Ron Washington said Adrian Beltre will bat cleanup this season. That's where Beltre hit in 2012 until he strained his hamstring. After that, Michael Young was the No. 4 hitter and Washington didn't want to change things. But it's Beltre's job again in 2012.

2. Tough news for Matt West, who has an injured elbow and will be shut down for six weeks while he rehabs. After that, if things are better, he would resume baseball activities. The hope is that will take care of the ligament and that he won't need surgery. West switched from third base to pitcher at the end of spring training last year and was doing well with the transition.

3. Greg Maddux talked briefly about Yu Darvish and what he thought about Darvish's one inning of work in Friday's intrasquad game.

4. Speaking of Greg Maddux, he spent some time with LHP Joe Beimel on Saturday and Beimel was thrilled that Maddux took the time to work with him and give him some important pointers.

5. The Rangers are mindful that Beltre and Nelson Cruz have dealt with leg issues and want to be sure they feel healthy heading into 2012, so they are watching them carefully this spring.

6. We chatted with Conor Jackson.

Surprise Six: Yu Darvish faces top of order

March, 2, 2012
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- It was a large media contingent to see Yu Darvish face Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre in the third inning of an intrasquad game Friday. Here are six things that happened in Surprise today:

1. Yu Darvish's command wasn't quite where he wants it, but he has plenty of movement and he impressed the hitters he faced.

2. Here are some observations and a little more detail about Darvish's only inning of work.

3. MLB announced that the extra wild card team has been approved for the 2012 season. The Rangers are in favor of the move.

4. Neftali Feliz had a solid outing. So did other pitchers and fielders. Check out observations of the intrasquad game here.

5. Josh Hamilton is working on finding his 2010 swing again, saying he got into bad habits with his mechanics last year because he was injured and his body compensated.

6. Scott Feldman is focused on returning to his 2009 form.

Surprise Six: Let's play games, folks

March, 1, 2012
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- After a week and a half of drills and batting practice, the Texas Rangers finally got in some game action Thursday. Sure, it was just intrasquad. But there were umpires and plenty of action and the players got into it (Elvis Andrus was cheerleader-in-chief). Here are six things from Surprise:

1. If the Rangers are to win the World Series this season, Mike Napoli must be a big reason why. He not only has to be a big offensive contributor but must navigate the pitching staff and play solid defense. In other words: follow a similar blueprint from last year.

2. Napoli said his ankle feels good. He got a chance to test it by catching three innings in the intrasquad game. There were good performances in that game. Check all that out here.

3. The Rangers signed all of their remaining pre-arbitration players, including Mitch Moreland and Craig Gentry.

4. Matt West is impressing scouts and teammates less than a year removed from switching from third base to the mound.

5. Catcher Yorvit Torrealba went back to his Arizona home after arriving at camp ill. He is expected to be back Friday.

6. Bryan Dolgin talks with Josh Boyd, director of pro scouting, about all things Rangers.

Surprise Six: Yu Darvish's pitch assortment

February, 29, 2012

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Yu Darvish threw to hitters for 10 minutes on Wednesday and once again had plenty of eyes on him. Catcher Mike Napoli was pleased with the session, which included Darvish throwing all seven kinds of pitches he has in his repertoire. Here are six things from Wednesday in Surprise:

1. Darvish threw all seven of his pitches: cutter, slider, changeup, curve, splitter, two-seam fastball, four-seam fastball. Napoli talked about how things went and what he was seeing as he caught Darvish on Wednesday.

2. Napoli said his ankle felt fine after going through workouts this week and he will catch three or four innings of the intrasquad game on Thursday and test the ankle. But so far, he's been able to do everything except run at top speed.

3. David Murphy's focus this spring is on defense. He isn't worried about playing time, which has become an annual question from the media. The guy is clearly a big-time team player.

4. After Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine questioned whether the play at the plate featuring Derek Jeter's flip in Oakland in Game 3 of the ALDS in 2001 would have been an out even if Jeter hadn't touched it, manager Ron Washington gave his side. And the skipper, who was the third-base coach for Oakland when that play happened, has no doubt that the out would not have been made without Jeter's play.

5. The pitchers have been set for the intrasquad games the next two days, starting around lunchtime Thursday on Nolan Ryan Field on the back fields of the Rangers' complex. Here's the list.

6. The club is going to manage the starting rotation in regards to fatigue, but don't expect a six-man rotation.

Surprise Six: Lots of pitching talk

February, 28, 2012
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- It was a late day of workouts for the Rangers, but much of the chatter centered around some of the pitchers. A look at six things from Tuesday in Surprise (primary day here and all over Arizona, by the way):

1. Derek Holland isn't just focused on his pitching mechanics this spring. He wants to improve defensively and is working with the manager to do that.

2. A union meeting is what caused the day to go a little longer than normal. Union chief Michael Weiner talked about the Ryan Braun case and also discussed Josh Hamilton with the media. The Rangers did not elect a new union rep, opting to wait a few months before doing so.

3. Koji Uehara is relaxed and working on a slider this spring. Manager Ron Washington was impressed by him, saying he was standing behind and saw exactly how much Uehara's splitter moves. "No wonder guys can't hit it," Washington said.

4. Left-handed pitching prospect Robbie Ross is thrilled to be at his first big league camp. He's throwing a curve now, wanting to add something that is slower to his repertoire.

5. LHP Joe Beimel is not worried about his elbow stiffness and hopes to be back on the mound Wednesday.

6. Washington is pleased with Neftali Feliz's attitude so far this spring.

Surprise Six: Lots of rotation talk

February, 27, 2012
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- It was a day that featured some news about the starting rotation, mainly how the starters line up for the start of the Cactus League season next week. But those starters also threw to hitters today for 10 minutes, up from the five-minute sessions last week. Here are six things from Surprise on Monday:

1. Yu Darvish's first Cactus League start is Wednesday, March 7, in Peoria against San Diego. Darvish threw 36 pitches to a couple of minor league hitters Monday and felt good after moving the screen away from him a little bit, freeing him up. More on all of that here.

2. The rotation is set for the first five Cactus League games. That includes Colby Lewis and Scott Feldman on Sunday, followed by Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando on Monday, Matt Harrison on Tuesday, Darvish on Wednesday and Neftali Feliz on Thursday.

3. The biggest position battle this spring is in center field. Here's a look at the candidates and an overview of the position.

4. LHP Joe Beimel remains day-to-day, but the organization isn't too concerned about the elbow stiffness. He could get back on the mound soon, but was not on a mound on Monday. Elvis Andrus (Plantar's wart) didn't participate in all on-field activities, but said he felt better.

5. Manager Ron Washington continues to work with the utility infielders in an effort to get a look at each of them. That's one of the open spots this spring.

6. The Rangers agreed to deals with 13 pre-arbitration players Monday, including Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz.



Adrian Beltre
.324 19 77 79
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182