The annual gathering of Cactus League managers and general managers was held Tuesday afternoon at the nearby Glendale Civic Center, and the Texas Rangers' GM was unable to attend.
Jon Daniels is back in Texas dealing with a family illness (nothing terribly serious), so farm director Jayce Tingler and assistant GM Josh Boyd were forced to pinch-hit.
They didn't draw the crowd that Daniels would have, though the beat guys did a good job wearing them out.
The Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Angels tables were the busiest. The Colorado Rockies crew had a surprisingly big crowd around them.
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The event was held on the west side of the valley for the first time, rather than half the teams and media having to traverse Phoenix traffic to get to the high-falutin' Arizona Biltmore. The traffic coming back was the problem, or so I'm told.
I prefer covering home games.
Here's the Surprise Five from a chilly Tuesday, the first day of full-squad workouts.
1. Get ready to see #OneTexas and One Texas t-shirts, bumper stickers, shot glasses and ashtrays. That appears to be the mantra Banister will impress upon the team this season.
What does it mean? Well, as Banister explains it, it's taking the identity of the club and embracing it with each other, others in the organization and the fans.
"You talk about being all-in, One Texas is exactly that," Banister said. "We're all equal. We're all in this in the came capacity. Nobody lives on the outside of that. If the barista at Starbucks is a fan of the Texas Rangers and he can't articulate who we are, what we do and how we play the game, we're not playing it properly.
"If you think about the idea of One Texas, it's drawing closer, making the circumference smaller, it's a tighter group. It's a family unit."
Banister also said that he told players there are two types of people — the humbled and those who are going to be humbled. How a player responds to being humbled is critical, and not just necessarily to things that happen on the field.
"The thing that I encouraged our guys is to get back to the mentality of what's made them successful in the past and what they hold onto," Banister said. "It's an egoless mentality. One group is not more important to the other. There's nobody more important than the next."
2. When asked what he thinks fans should be excited about this Rangers season, Banister had no shortage of answers. But he started with the young core group players trying to establish themselves, and then specifically pointed to Rougned Odor, Joey Gallo and Delino DeShields.
The manager is bullish on Odor, whose miserable 2017 season has been chronicled many times over. No matter what went wrong last season — and there are plenty of reasons — the one thing Odor needs to regain is what he needed to regain went shipped to the minors early in 2015.
He needs to find his swagger. Some call his swagger by another seven-letter word. But what makes Odor play at his best is the same grittiness that other teams in the league — not just the Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros — dislike about him so much.
That alone won't do it, but it's a start. He also showed in September the approach the Rangers think will serve him well, even though he batted below .200.
He took 11 walks in the season's final month, roughly one-third of his season total. Odor finally realized that if a pitcher isn't going to throw him strikes, which pitchers didn't do because he was chasing their pitches, he wasn't going to swing.
More of that requires Odor to focus on his approach and to recognize that he doesn't have to do more than required. He pressed last year on two fronts — his new contract and trying to do too much when Adrian Beltre was out — and that didn't serve anyone well.
3. The four Rangers writers in Glendale hit Tingler with questions about specific Rangers minor-leaguers, and he provided plenty of answers. Plenty.
Of note, there is a third outfielder-turned-pitcher who will log innings in 2018. Royce Bolinger, the Rangers' sixth-round pick in 2012, will pick up relief innings while also potentially playing once between starts in the outfield or at DH.
Bolinger batted .234 with nine home runs last season for Double A Frisco.
He would join left-hander James Jones and fellow right-hander Jairo Beras in the transformation stages. Jones (elbow) is healthy and a full-go. Beras continues to impress with his fastball and now a slider.
Beras, the controversial free-agent signing in 2012, could pitch at a few levels this season, Tingler said. Jones could open at Frisco.
More minor-league updates will come somewhere at star-telegram.com Wednesday.
4. Bruce Bochy, the three-time World Series-winning manager of the San Francisco Giants, said that he hasn't yet gotten the chance to fully wrap his arms around former Rangers left-hander Derek Holland.
Bochy, though, knows one Holland characteristic.
"He's a prankster," Bochy said.
He's also in camp on a minor-league deal and vying to compete for a spot in the Giants' rotation. There is a possibility that he might be asked to pitch in relief, something Holland did so well in the 2010 playoffs for the Rangers.
For now, Bochy is waiting to see how Holland progresses.
"I look forward to watching him throw in games," Bochy said. "I've seen a couple bullpen sessions. It looks like he has a lot of fun."
5. Tingler provided the first injury report of spring training Tuesday morning, and the only player was on it was left-hander Matt Moore. And it was good news.
Moore was cleared to begin pitchers fielding practice after a few days off to rest soreness in his right knee. He will be replaced on Wednesday's report by shortstop Elvis Andrus.
The reigning Rangers Player of the Year left the workout early because of back spasms. Andrus has been bothered by back soreness often in his career, so this likely isn't a big deal.
Plus, for those who haven't heard, it was freezing cold.
But it was Day One of spring training, and the last thing any player needs to do it push through an injury.
Also a candidate for the injury report is this guy, who strained his right calf running on the treadmill. Beltre was pleased that I had taken on that injury instead of him.