Game day has arrived for the Texas Rangers, who will travel to Mesa for their Cactus League opener against the Chicago Cubs and will actually take players who people know.
Here are the lineup and pitching probables:
Lineup: Delino DeShields, cf; Rougned Odor, dh; Jurickson Profar, ss; Nomar Mazara, rf; Ronald Guzman, 1b; Drew Robinson, lf; Brett Nicholas, c; Christian Lopes, 3b; Hanser Alberto, 2b.
Pitchers: RHPs Clayton Blackburn, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Adrian Sampson, Jose Leclerc, Connor Sadzeck, Deolis Guerra.
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Willie Calhoun will travel with the club and will replace Robinson, likely after two at-bats. For those who like to read into things, well, read away, but do so knowing that the Saturday roles could very well swap in the near future.
Speaking of roles, the Rangers finally announced the addition of another pitcher who can fill multiple roles.
Here's the Surprise Five from Friday.
1. Jesse Chavez signed his non-guaranteed deal Friday and has joined Darwin Barney as current Rangers players who were with the Toronto Blue Jays players in the visiting dugout and then on the field at Globe Life Park after Rougned Odor slugged Jose Bautista in 2016.
Barney, though, didn't nearly have the role in the fallout as Chavez, who was the pitcher who delivered the get-even beanball after the dust had settled.
Matt Bush plunked Bautista, which made Mr. Congeniality angry and led to his decision to try to take out Odor on a slide into second base. Bautista stood and approached Odor, and the rest is history.
But the Blue Jays were going to get even, and Chavez dutifully plunked Prince Fielder in the Rangers' next at-bat even though he didn't want to and then walked to the dugout as he was getting the thumb from plate umpire Dan Iassogna.
Oddly, Chavez's act is part of what the Rangers like about him. He is said to be a wonderful teammate and clubhouse guy who will do whatever it takes for his team. On May 15, 2016, his team needed him to drill Fielder.
"I was with Jesse over in Pittsburgh, so I have a relationship," manager Jeff Banister said. "Jesse has always been a team guy, competitive, works hard, and is kind of an old-soul-type of player. That brand of baseball is no back down, no giving in, and I love that.
"In that moment, Jesse wasn't going to back down and he was going to do what he felt was necessary for his guys. That's part of this team mentality that sometimes gets eroded away."
Chavez returns to the organization that traded him away 12 years ago while he was at Triple A Oklahoma City and on the cusp of the major leagues. They drafted him in 2002 in the 42nd round.
He said that there were some familiar faces as he returned to the Surprise Recreation Campus after a long journey that includes stops in (deep breath) Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Kansas City, Toronto, Oakland, Toronto again, and both Los Angeles teams.
"Honestly, I think it might have been best for me," Chavez said. "To go through the troubles and the ups and downs and the troubles. But those troubles helped me get to that success."
2. Chavez comes to camp only a few days removed from a three-inning simulated game against college players near his home in California. He's ready to go pitch, in other words.
The Rangers might ask him to first throw a bullpen to get a read on where he is and then a live batting practice or two before stick him into a game. But he his not dragging behind the rest of the pitchers despite signing nine days after his new pitching teammates reported.
His $1 million non-guaranteed deal does not come with guarantees that he will make the Opening Day roster. If he does, his contract bumps to $1.5 million with incentives.
But it seems like he will make the roster as a swing man who can work multiple innings in relief and make starts. Bibens-Dirkx is also hoping to and capable of filling that role.
Chavez has done it far longer and has a track record of success as a reliever. He hasn't been terrible as a starter, but he hasn't been Cole Hamels.
"I think it's being able to simplify things," Chavez said. "As a starter, you can throw 45 pitches down in the bullpen before the game and we can try to tinker with things before the game instead of just saving it for the bullpen and going out what with you've got.
"In the bullpen ... I just need to get a couple pitches ready. As a long guy, you're just trying to limit damage."
General manager Jon Daniels said that Chavez is competing for a spot that will be necessary if the Rangers go with a six-man rotation. The Rangers would have likely brought in Chavez if they weren't flirting with a six-man rotation, Daniels said.
But they are, and in the event of an injury, having Chavez around would come in handy. He has made at least 21 starts in three of the past four seasons and has pitched in the American League West in five of the past six.
"There are other guys that can do both, but it's hard to do," Daniels said. "Guys that can perform at a quality level and be able to move back and forth between the two is an underappreciated skill and can really help us manage the staff."
3. When asked for the one pitcher who has wowed him this spring, pitching coach Doug Brocailtrimmed his list of five to Matt Moore. Along the way, though, he mentioned Doug Fister and Hamels, who Brocail said "is on a mission."
That's 50 percent to 60 percent of the rotation, depending on six or five starters. Shin-Soo Choo has been very impressed with Bush, so there's another piece, and Robinson Chirinos couldn't believe how well good buddy Martin Perez was throwing despite his injured non-throwing elbow.
Mike Minor, the other pitcher in the starting mix, makes his first spring outing Monday. Banister said that Minor has the chance to be "an electric starter."
These reviews come in the context of spring training and in the context of only Rangers pitchers to compare. How would they look when up against Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer? Probably like most.
But if they are as good as Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Mike Leake and Erasmo Ramirez, the Rangers will have a chance to compete for a wild-card spot.
Richards and Shoemaker are in the Angels' rotation, and Leake and Ramirez are in the Mariners' rotation. While everyone is swooning over the chances of Anaheim and Seattle, they are overlooking the issues in the rotation.
Those two clubs, just like the Rangers, have some questions with their starting pitchers. In terms of experience, the Rangers might have the edge.
4. Elvis Andrus hit in the batting cages and fielded ground balls Friday following two days off with back spasms, and the only activity he hasn't done is run.
But that's no big deal. He said that if Saturday were April 24 instead of Feb. 24, he would be in the Rangers' lineup. That's basically where he's been ever since he broke into the majors in 2009.
The only player in baseball with more games than Andrus since 2009 is Robinson Cano. His durability is staggering, and it's something he said that he learned from mentors Michael Young and Adrian Beltre.
"If something bothers you during the season and I can still play, why would I take a week off?" Andrus said. "It might take you a couple days to feel comfortable, but you can still do something to help the team win and it's just a matter of time for your body to heal back."
That might not be Exhibit A for the lawyers defending TCU and football coach Gary Patterson in that lawsuit filed by a former player and with similar complaints from others, but it's something players in all sports know.
Players are never 100 percent during a season and often play through pain. Some do it a lot better than others, and Andrus is one of the best in baseball at it.
5. Saturday will be mark the final day of my first stint at spring training. I will return to Surprise on March 2, and it better be warm by then.
The Star-Telegram has cranked out a lot of copy over the 11 days since my arrival. We've tried to be diligent about spreading the word when stories post, but, hey, we know how busy readers can get.
To that end, and for the third consecutive day, here are some links that folks might have missed and might actually enjoy reading. As a reminder, all of my stories can be found at my Facebook page (like/follow it) and here.