Nick Martinez was the star for the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, tossing two scoreless innings on only 22 pitches. Eighteen of those were strikes, and the one hit he allowed was quickly erased by a double play.
Checking in next in the star pecking order in the sloppy 8-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks was Isiah Kiner-Falefa, a fourth-round pick in 2013 from Mid-Pacific Institute in Hawaii.
He hit a two-run homer, which doesn’t sound all that great until taking a look at his minor-league stats. Kiner-Falefa has never homered in 1,212 at-bats.
Maybe that will change this season after he has had a year to add weight to his frame to withstand the additional catching load he has been asked to take on. An infielder by trade, Kiner-Falefa is expected to start the season at Double A Frisco and catch more than he did last season.
He will still play the infield, as he did at second base Tuesday. Maybe this season he’ll mix in a homer, which he also did Tuesday.
Thoughts? Here are The Surprise Five.
1. Ray Davis, who owns the biggest piece of the Rangers and is their general managing partner, managed to carve out 30 minutes with three beat writers Tuesday just before lunch.
Lunch was not provided.
But Davis did provide plenty of answers in his second annual spring-training chat. Almost all of the questions he had to answer pertained to the payroll and if there will be enough money to keep Yu Darvish and to keep the Rangers a contender each year.
That includes 2020, when the new ballpark opens across the parking lot from Globe Life Park.
The goal is to keep the payroll under the luxury tax threshold, which this year is $195 million. The Rangers’ payroll is creeping toward $170 million.
Davis said that proceeds from Texas Live!, which don’t factor in revenue sharing, will help fund the payroll, as will a projected increase in attendance at the new ballpark.
Though the capacity will be only 42,000, down 6,000 from Globe Life, Davis said that there are plans for massive standing-room only area that could accommodate 20,000 fans. It’s along the lines of the area Jerry Jones has built into AT&T Stadium, where millennials can text, SnapChat and swipe right without being bothered by those pesky baseball games.
But Davis also made it a point to say that player development will be a part of keeping the Rangers competitive. He said that he hates to trade away players like Lewis Brinson but also likes the big-leaguers who come in return.
So, if you take the man at his word, the Rangers won’t just be spending like crazy. They need to when it comes to starting pitching until they can produce another of their own from the farm system.
That won’t happen before Darvish hits free agency. Davis needs to open his checkbook.
2. Davis was also asked, “What about Bob?” As in Bob Simpson, who has the next largest stake in the Rangers behind Davis and was thought to be sharing the general managing partner duties with Davis.
Davis said that Simpson remains supportive of the ownership group, which I take to mean he opens his wallet when asked, but is more focused on getting his new oil company, MorningStar, up and running.
Simpson, who lives in Fort Worth, also dealt with a broken leg last season that prevented him attending as many games as he has in the past.
“I think you’ll see Bob at a lot more games,” Davis said.
When their ownership group purchased the club in 2010, the initial indication was that Davis and Simpson would take turns serving as the general managing partner, but business has pulled Simpson away and Davis is, “having too much fun,” he said.
3. The Rangers really don’t seem too worried about what they are calling a sprained right wrist for closer Sam Dyson, and it seems like he will be OK to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
I’m not sure the Rangers would be worried at all if it wasn’t for the WBC, which has been a fairly big pain in the butt. Adrian Beltre would just be dealing with another Beltre spring injury if not for his desire to play for the Dominican Republic.
His decision is pending, and he and manager Jeff Banister have been in steady contact about his status. Beltre ran at 70 percent effort Monday, saying that isn’t good enough, then didn’t to anything Tuesday as he tended to personal business.
He said that he has until Thursday to declare if he will play in the first round.
The Rangers don’t have a replacement for Beltre. In theory they have one for Dyson with Matt Bush’s 100 mph fastball and wicked off-speed offerings setting up in the eighth inning.
But the Rangers seem intent on not pushing Bush, who pitched last season for the first time since before he was arrested for a drunk-driving incident in 2012. His right arm is in bubble wrap this spring based on the workload after four seasons out of the game.
The Rangers might have to intervene to keep both Beltre and Dyson out, though it sounds like Dyson should be OK.
4. The highlights of Joey Gallo’s brief big-league career are as follows:
Throwing out Brinson, one of his best friends and former top Rangers prospect, at third base Monday.
The proud moment came in the third inning against the Brewers, when Brinson tried to go from first to third on a grounder that hit third base and bounded down the line into shallow left field.
Gallo hustled to the ball and threw off balance to get Brinson, who it seemed didn’t agree with the call. But the umpire said “out,” there is no replay in spring games, and Gallo let Brinson know about what had just happened as he walked back to the dugout.
“It’s definitely the best play I’ve ever made in the outfield,” Gallo said. “It’s funny. I was telling him before the game and every time he got on base, ‘You better not try me or I’ll throw your ass out.’ He said, ‘I’ll try out. I’ll try you.’
“It wasn’t a typical throw out, but is still counts the same. I’ll take it.”
Brinson even fired up right-hander Connor Sadzeck, another former minor-league teammate of the Rangers’ first-round pick in 2012. Sadzeck threw a 98 mph fastball to Brinson, who later singled to set up the showdown with Gallo’s arm.
“It was Lewis. I had to reach back a little,” Sadzeck said. “I was talking to him last night, and he was mad that I threw him a first-pitch curveball.”
Brinson was sent to Milwaukee at the Aug. 1 trade deadline last year, along with right-hander Luis Ortiz and, later, outfielder Ryan Cordell, for Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress.
Gallo hated to see Brinson go and believes whole-heartedly that he will be a star in Milwaukee.
Especially if he stops running on Gallo.
5. Stefan Stevenson is taking over The Surprise Five through Sunday as I head back to Texas to do the following:
Mow the lawn, treat the lawn, pick up the dog from the vet, get me and my son fitted for tuxes, watch the boy’s first career t-ball game (full report to follow), attend my brother-in-law’s bachelor party (no report to follow) and do whatever else my wife and daughter want.
I can’t wait.
The added bonus is that temperatures are supposed to be in the 80s — much more Arizona-like — upon my return. Finally.