Jose Contreras has won a World Series. He’s been an All-Star. He’s made more than $67.5 million in his career.
But he’s not ready to call it a career, even at 42. Contreras joined several other hopefuls vying for a spot on the Texas Rangers’ pitching staff on Monday, the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers.
“Baseball is my life,” Contreras said. “It’s all I’ve known. That’s why I’m here. I want an opportunity to win another championship.”
Contreras could become an intriguing story as camp progresses. He has an impressive track record, although he has slipped in productivity the past few seasons because of injuries.
In 2011, Contreras’ season ended when he landed on the disabled list with a right forearm strain in June and then underwent surgery on his right elbow. He had another injury-plagued season in 2012 that required an additional ligament reconstruction surgery on his right elbow. Last season, he reached the big leagues and made seven relief appearances for the Pirates but dealt with back issues.
But Contreras says he’s healthy now and is willing to compete for any role on the team.
“I thank the Rangers for giving me an opportunity,” Contreras said. “The least I can do is keep going forward and keep trying and help as much as I can.”
Count left-handed reliever Neal Cotts as someone who believes Contreras can win a job. Cotts and Contreras were teammates on the White Sox when they won the World Series in 2005. And Cotts himself has battled back from seemingly out of nowhere after injuries to become an effective big league pitcher again.
“I would get to spring training early and lift when I was with Chicago, and Contreras would be walking off the field, already sweating,” Cotts said. “He was a good example to follow to see what it takes to keep yourself healthy and keep yourself going in this game. I’m not surprised to see him here.”
9 agree to contracts
Reliever Tanner Scheppers and outfielder Michael Choice were among nine players who agreed to one-year contracts on Monday.
Scheppers is set to earn $515,179, while Choice is at $502,000. Relievers Cory Burns ($502,638), Wilmer Font ($501,000), Lisalverto Bonilla ($500,000) and Roman Mendez ($500,000); outfielders Engel Beltre ($502,000) and Jim Adduci ($501,000); and infielder Luis Sardinas ($500,000) also agreed.
The Rangers have 29 of the 41 players on the major league roster under contract for 2014. The minimum salary for a big leaguer this season is $500,000.
Jurickson Profar has been cleared to begin his throwing program, but the Rangers are taking a cautious approach with their second baseman as he deals with shoulder tendinitis.
Profar is not expected to fully participate in drills at the beginning of camp after receiving a cortisone injection in his right shoulder two or three weeks ago, general manager Jon Daniels said.
The plan remains for him to start Cactus League games as the designated hitter before getting time at second base.
In other news, Daniels provided the following updates:• Left-hander Derek Holland (left knee microfracture surgery) is scheduled to undergo a scan on his knee in two weeks. If all goes well, he could report to camp in early March.
• Starters Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis are listed as “full go.”
• Submarine right-hander Ben Rowen (biceps tendinitis) has been cleared to start his throwing program. He won’t be ready to pitch when Cactus League play begins, but should be in games before camp breaks.
• Left-hander Joseph Ortiz (left foot surgery) is in camp but his foot is non-weight bearing until the end of March.
• Right-hander Roman Mendez (olecranon, or elbow bone, stress fracture surgery) is throwing bullpen sessions and progressing in his program. He is behind to start camp.
• Right-hander Shawn Tolleson (left ankle sprain) is scheduled to throw a live batting practice Tuesday.
• Right-hander Daniel Bard had thoracic outlet syndrome and is also dealing with a stiff back.