Spring training is a month old, and the Cactus League season has moved past the midway point. Only 14 more days to go, if the Texas Rangers’ off day Thursday is included.
Camp has had a different feel this year, as it did somewhat in 2009 and again in 2013. It’s a World Baseball Classic year, and this time around the Rangers have eight members of their projected Opening Day roster still playing.
The clubhouse has had a different feel because of it, but baseball hasn’t stopped for the WBC. The work continues Friday and Saturday, with the Rangers playing split-squad games in Arizona and San Antonio as part of Big League Weekend.
Part of that work is the evaluation process and the decision-making that lies ahead. General manager Jon Daniels is part of the process, and he took time to sit down with the Star-Telegram for a question-and-answer session that has become an annual staple of spring.
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How good of a read do you have on the club with eight players away from camp at the World Baseball Classic? You don’t see it all at once, but it’s not too often, barring injuries, you’re going to feel that much different about your team a month into spring training than when you got here.
We’ve had some good development. The guys competing for spots have played well for the most part. It’s hard to see it all at once on the field together, but we know the core group we’re going to break with and what they’re capable of doing.
The general thought is that Joey Gallo has had a good spring camp. Do you agree? I think he has, too. He’s had three or four balls he’s smoked to the right side that have been outs, but it’s loud contact. There’s a calmness at the plate, a comfort taking pitches. Some of the things they’ve worked on in the cage you’ve seen it in games. The way he’d handled the normal ups and downs of springs has been great. I’m encouraged.
Is that a step Gallo needed to take, handling the ups and downs? Every step he takes and everything he says is not a story. He’s a player, one of the guys getting ready for the season, which is exactly what he should be doing.
How much of a concern is the Andrew Cashner injury? I would have felt differently had his exam last weekend gone differently. We felt good about the news. He’s been building up arm strength — he really didn’t lose too much time — and then we’ll decide from there what the realistic timeline is. We haven’t ruled out him being one of our five to open. We have two early off days and that might allow us more time. The good thing is that even if he’s not ready, and we’re not ready to say that, it looks like it will be shortly thereafter barring something new popping up.
It seems as if Dillon Gee and Mike Hauschild are going to force you guys to make a tough decision about who fills out the starting rotation if Cashner isn’t available. You want that, having quality options, rather than a war of attrition. We had that in 2014 when we took the five healthiest guys. Guys have pitched well. We have flexibility with everybody but Gee and Hauschild. Generally speaking, you like to think you’d take your 12 best guys, but those things do play a role also.
What do you need to see the rest of camp before heading back to Texas? I think a big key, especially with our veteran players, is timing it right. Getting their endurance up. Getting the timing right at the plate. At the same time, this is a veteran core group, so you’ve got to let them peak at the right time.
And then we have some real decisions to make on the back end of the rotation, the last spot or so in the rotation, and get our arms around the realistic timelines on a couple injured guys.
Is there any chance that you guys add a pitcher from outside the organization to put into the mix? We have nothing active, and I expect that it’s going to be a totally in-house deal. Outside of Alex Claudio, no one has laid claim to a job from the left side. Most of our right-handed guys do well against lefties. That’s something we’ll keep our eyes out for.