Texas Rangers ready for healing season to begin

Posted Monday, Mar. 31, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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lebreton For the Texas Rangers — sort of like that old saying — March came in like a lion ... and left like an ambulance.

The Rangers are more than happy, they said, to be putting the Cactus League and all of its briars behind them and to be welcoming the Philadelphia Phillies.

“Regular season,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said, “everything starts over. We’re all 0-and-0.”

Aching remnants of spring training may remain, from sore elbows to stiff necks, but Andrus said that none of that matters, starting Monday.

“Oh, yeah, for sure,” he said. “I think this is what everybody is waiting for. If your back or anything has been bothering you, by Monday it’ll be no pain. Your arm will be 100 percent. Your mind, everything will get just the way you want it to.”

Not all of the Rangers’ sick will be instantly healed Monday, of course. That’s why God created the 15-day disabled list.

Staff ace Yu Darvish’s stiff neck will keep him on the disabled list at least until Saturday, clearing the way for Tanner Scheppers to make his first major league start.

With Jurickson Profar and Geovany Soto both out with injuries for 10 to 12 weeks, the Opening Day lineup also will see new and/or unexpected faces at second base and catcher.

Donnie Murphy was in the Cubs’ Arizona camp Wednesday when he was told to report ... to the Rangers’ about-to-depart team plane at the airport.

“Fortunately, I knew some of them,” second baseman Murphy said. “The rest of the guys were, like, ‘Hey, what are you doing on here?’ 

And then there is relief pitcher Seth Rosin, who actually will be celebrating his second Opening Day of the 2014 season. Rosin, acquired by the Rangers last Wednesday, was on the Los Angeles Dodgers roster that opened the regular season in Sydney, Australia, two weeks ago.

In all, 12 players who weren’t with the Rangers for last year’s Opening Day will be in uniform Monday.

The resident doomsayers — the silly ones who think the franchise is doomed, now that Nolan Ryan is gone — contend that the roster turnover is a sign of the team’s slow slide to mediocrity. Never mind that the Rangers’ farm system is robust in star-potential prospects and forget that the team signed the top free agent not named Cano in the off-season, Shin-Soo Choo.

Could the Rangers have used Nelson Cruz, who signed a free agent contract with the Orioles? Of course they could have.

But general manager Jon Daniels knew that signing Cruz, at any price, would have cost the club its compensatory first-round draft pick. And if Cruz would have come back as the DH, it would have been at the expense of Mitch Moreland, to whom the club wanted to give one more chance.

In any case, the bottom of the Rangers’ batting order — Murphy or Josh Wilson, the catchers and center fielder Leonys Martin — will have to produce if the club is to avoid another playoff-less season.

The wounded Rangers should all be back at some point, most of them sooner rather than later. Darvish may end up missing only one start, Colby Lewis may only miss two, and Matt Harrison may miss only three.

Anyone else remember that a year ago, the trio of Ross Wolf, Josh Lindblom and Travis Blackley started a combined 11 games for this team?

By the dim light of the Cactus League season, Darvish’s stiff neck and Lewis’ re-constructed hip suddenly don’t seem so bad.

By Monday afternoon, all introductions of new Rangers will have been made — to the customers and to each other — and the new lineup will have been unveiled.

Good riddance, March.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton

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