As of the end of business Monday, the Texas Rangers had 38 players remaining in big-league camp.
Five are injured severely enough that they won’t be leaving the Surprise Recreation Campus this week. Extended spring training is in their future.
Of the remaining 33, 14 aren’t 100 percent sure what their immediate future holds.
Catcher Eli Whiteside knows that, barring injury, he’ll be headed to Triple A Round Rock, and infielder Jurickson Profar will likely be joining him.
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Right-hander Coty Woods, the Rule 5 pick, might not even be able to stay with the organization, and the same goes for newcomer Brad Mills and former Opening Day center fielder Julio Borbon.
Nine more, though, have a little less certainty as camp finally makes its way down the stretch. It’s the same way, though perhaps in fewer numbers, across baseball, and it happens every year.
This week is a big one with Opening Day arriving Sunday, and players are waiting to learn about their futures.
“The decisions are made. We just have to announce them,” manager Ron Washington said. “If they worry about it, something will get in the way. But if you just play and everyday you go out there you’re showing the manager that you have worth … you’re fine.”
The clubhouse hasn’t suddenly morphed into something akin to a waiting room for expectant fathers. Fingernails haven’t been chewed away, and there isn’t a shortage of coffee or an overabundance of cigarette butts.
Each of the players still vying for a roster spot believes he has done enough to make the team, but recognizes that the decision isn’t his to make. Even if the players end up going to Triple A or to another team, they have made a favorable impression.
“Before, no one know who I was, but little by little I made my presence known,” left-hander Joe Ortiz said. “You don’t know if you’re going to stay or get sent down, but I’m just enjoying every minute of it. I think I’ve pitched well enough to make the team. I’m very much aware of the situation, but you just have to keep working hard.”
Ultimately, though, the numbers aren’t going to add up. Borbon is hitting .340, and outfielder Jim Adduci is at .400. Whiteside, though limited by a calf injury this spring, has left a favorable impression with his defense.
But the chances that any of those three is in Houston on Sunday are slim.
“Probably the best spring I’ve had,” Borbon said.
He’s out of options, meaning that he will be exposed to waivers if the Rangers try to send him to Triple A. The Cubs, Rays and Mets have inquired about trading for Borbon but might wait until they can get him on waiver claim.
His preference is to stay with the Rangers, the team that drafted him, but he’s not blind to his situation.
“I think that I’ve put myself in a good position to make them have to make a decision,” Borbon said. “I’ve just got to hope and wait for the best.”
Ortiz is one of six relievers vying for three spots, maybe four if the Rangers take eight relievers to start the season until the No. 5 starter is needed April 9. Right-handers Tanner Scheppers and Derek Lowe are believed to have secured two of the spots, leaving four to chase one or two Opening Day jobs.
Lowe and Michael Kirkman are still getting consideration for the No. 5 spot, but it still appears that Nick Tepesch will win that job.
Leury Garcia is in line to be the backup shortstop, but that hasn’t been made official either.
All of that will hold true assuming the Rangers don’t suddenly find a player to bring in, as they did in 2008 with Dustin Nippert two days before the season, or a player on the team doesn’t suffer a late-spring injury, as Tommy Hunter did in 2011.
It’s a big week for a large chunk of the Rangers’ spring roster.
“It’s coming down to the wire right now,” right-hander Cory Burns said. “No matter the outcome, I can leave spring training knowing I gave it all I’ve got. I’d love to think that I’ve done enough. If I haven’t in someone’s eyes, it’ll come down to the better guy got the job.”