The Texas Rangers made a flurry of moves Tuesday, namely optioning Willie Calhoun to Triple-A Round Rock.
Calhoun has to improve his defense in order to justify being an everyday player in the big leagues. Manager Jeff Banister is optimistic that Calhoun will do just that, saying he envisioned the Rangers winning championships with Calhoun.
It also paves the road to a platoon in left field with Ryan Rua and Drew Robinson. Destin Hood and Carlos Tocci will still get a chance to show they deserve the job, but signs point toward a Rua/Robinson platoon.
After announcing the moves, the Rangers headed to Maryvale Baseball Park for a Cactus League contest against the Brewers. They lost 4-3 and are now 6-12-2 this spring.
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With that, here’s the Surprise Five –
1. Matt Bush had a rough day vs. the Brewers in his first appearance since being moved back to the bullpen.
He entered in the seventh and didn’t record an out until the fifth batter he faced. Eric Sogard led off with a single and then Jesus Aguilar sent a 1-2 pitch over the left-center field wall.
Kyle Wren and Johnny Davis followed with singles before Bush struck out Tyrone Taylor and Luis Aviles. He ended the inning without more damage by getting Eric Thames to fly out to center.
Bush has a 7.04 ERA in four outings this spring.
2. The other pitcher of note Tuesday was starter Cole Hamels.
Hamels had his best outing of the spring, allowing one run on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts over four innings. Hamels seemed pleased with his outing and addressed what he needs to do in his next two starts before Opening Day.
“I like the pace that we’re heading,” Hamels said. “Just able to work all my pitches in no matter what, there’ll probably be a few situations that I’ll probably test a few different pitches that I might not normally do in certain situations.
“It’s just kind of getting back in the mindset.”
3. Calhoun proved to be the biggest name cut from big-league camp Tuesday. Also in the mix was catcher Jose Trevino, a defensive standout who is headed back to Double-A Frisco.
Trevino had been in the mix for the backup job, but now it appears to be Juan Centeno’s to lose.
Centeno, who played with the Houston Astros last season, is out of options and is having a solid spring. He is batting .267 and was the starting catcher for Hamels’ third spring start Tuesday.
4. Right-hander Clayton Blackburn exited his start Monday with tightness in his right (throwing) elbow. It didn’t look good and Blackburn addressed his injury Tuesday.
“I felt tight the last two or three days, but that is nothing uncommon,” Blackburn said. “I thought it was middle of spring training soreness. But it is more than that. Even if I was having a bad spring, it's never good to get this. I am hoping for something I can rehab and be back before the All-Star break."
He’ll undergo further examination with team physician Keith Meister on Thursday.
It’s hard not to feel for Blackburn.
This is a guy who has been called up to the big leagues twice – with the San Francisco Giants in 2016 and the Rangers last season – but has yet to throw in a major league game.
5. Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby is the best baseball player to come out of the Fort Worth area. He played at Fort Worth North Side before embarking on a 23-year professional career.
The second best? It may be Ellis Burks, who played his high school ball at Everman. Burks had an 18-year career and finished with 2,107 hits and 352 home runs.
Burks made an appearance at the Rangers-Brewers game. He is now working for the San Francisco Giants as a special assistant in the scouting department.
They said it
Banister on whether they’ll carry 13 pitchers on the 25-man: “I think it's still on the table for us, it's not completely off the table. We initially came in looking at both scenarios, probably leaning toward 13 and still on that side of it. However, there are some situations where we could go 12."
Hamels on former TCU pitcher Jake Arrieta signing with the Phillies: “Philly has some good pitchers and they have a lot of young guys who can learn from Arrieta. They are making strides and trying to be competitive. It’s a fun sports city to play for. I know they have been champing at the bit to get relevant again. That’s definitely going to put them on the way.”