A fairly common rule in travel is to drive to a location if it can be reached faster than the ETA of a flight and all the factors that go into flying.
You have to drive to the airport, park, check in, go through security, wait for the flight, assume the flight is on time, taxi, fly, land, taxi, exit the plane, possibly wait for luggage and catch a cab or rent a car.
Austin, therefore, is an automatic drive from DFW. Houston is right on the edge. San Antonio, though, is now firmly in the fly column for me.
Everything went about as well as a flight can go Friday morning and never again will I drive to San Antonio for business. That might be moot as far as covering baseball again in San Antonio goes.
Domingo Ayala will also be in the news if he gets his way.
Thoughts? Here are The Surprise/San Antonio Five.
1. Griffin can probably start looking for accommodations in the Metroplex. His latest performance could have secured a rotation spot.
He would never say such a thing, and the Rangers won’t say that either. That’s fine. His last two outings, in which he has commanded his fastball and thrown his off-speed pitches for strikes, are just what the Rangers are looking for from their No. 5 starter. Or No. 4 if two starters are needed.
Griffin also wouldn’t say if he would have pitched five perfect innings in a real ballpark. The three runs against him came within four batters spanning the first and second innings as Lonnie Chisenhall, Abraham Almonte and Erik Kratz hit home runs that in most ballpark wouldn’t come close to being homers.
But they found the Eddie Gaedel-short porch in right field of the makeshift field at the Alamodome. Maybe Almonte’s gets out at Yankee Stadium. Kratz’s probably was a double at many parks.
Griffin didn’t make any excuses. Instead, he responded with 12 straight outs to finish his night. At one point, he threw 15 consecutive strikes.
He tossed four scoreless innings on two hits in his previous start and has found the feel for all of his pitches. In so doing, he has become the leader to be at the back of the rotation in a race that lost a competitor Friday afternoon.
2. Bad news from Surprise, where an MRI exam showed that Gonzalez has a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and could need Tommy John surgery.
He and the Rangers are hoping that six weeks of no throwing and a stem-cell injection will allow the 2013 first-round pick to avoid going under the knife.
Gonzalez struggled in his final two spring appearances, and on Wednesday was seen with ice wrapped around his elbow. That’s hardly unusual, but in this case it proved to be peculiar.
It might also help explain the struggles.
This is the capper to 12 rough months for Gonzalez, who came to camp last year as the favorite to win the final rotation spot. He struggled last spring, was unremarkable at Triple A Round Rock, and was mostly bad in the few starts he made for the Rangers.
His injury will give Eddie Gamboa a start Sunday in Arizona. Gamboa was scheduled to pitch Friday night behind Griffin, and now appears to be a bigger player in the hunt for the rotation and maybe the bullpen.
3. There is at least one rotation spot available, two if pitching coach Doug Brocail get his way, with the Rangers certain that they will be without Andrew Cashner on Opening Day.
But based on Friday, when he threw a 30-pitch bullpen session, the Rangers might not be without him very long. His biceps soreness appears to have been alleviated, though it won’t be safe to say anything definitive until after the throws Saturday.
Brocail has stated his desire to have five starters in the rotation to start the season and to not use two early off days to skip the fifth spot. He would rather save as many Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish bullets as possible for the end of the season.
Hauschild had his worst outing of the spring Friday, allowing four runs on seven hits in three innings on a robust 73 pitches (wow). Making matters worse, his Dayton Flyers lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Gee, who has a cool-running 1.29 ERA this spring, gets a start Saturday in San Antonio.
The Rangers don’t have roster flexibility with Hauschild (Rule 5 draft pick) and Gee (March 29 out clause from minor league deal). That could play into their favor, could lead to a five-man rotation and could end up costing a reliever a bullpen spot.
4. Ayala, the YouTube sensation and baseball genius, made an appearance at the baseball card show at Big League Weekend but also came down to the field during batting practice and spent time with both clubs, mostly around the batting cage boasting about the bombs he was going to hit.
But he also spent time at shortstop with Rangers infielder Doug Bernier.
“He taught me a couple things,” Bernier said. “Like the bat flip.”
For those who aren’t familiar with Ayala, he speaks with a heavy Latin accent after being born somewhere between 1978 and 1988 in the Dominican Republic. On Friday, he said that he is 17.
His videos teach the important things, like how to pimp a home run, and his Twitter account is filled with broken English.
Despite the busy pregame schedule, Ayala took time to answer a few questions, complete with his broken English spellings, from The Surprise Five.
TSF: What do you think about the Internet sensation you’ve become?
DA: It’s a good thing for me, but my ultimate goal is to make it to the big leeg, so hopefully that can propel me to that.
TSF: Are you trying to show the Rangers something this weekend?
DA: The Ranger and maybe the Indian, maybe start a bidding war. If [Tim] Tebow can make it to professional baseball because he have a lot of Twitter followers, maybe if I can get more Twitter followers.
TSF: How many followers do you have?
DA: Almost 100,000. Tebow has, like, 3 million, so I got a ways to go.
TSF: It’s the clean living.
DA: You’ve seen my infeeld play. That’s pretty cleen right there.
TSF: You were working at shortstop. Is that your primary position or can you play anywhere?
DA: I just play, like, shortstop, second base, corner infeeld, outfeeld, catcher and pitcher sometimes.
TSF: Is that all?
DA: DH sometimes, too, but just when I pitch.
TSF: The Rangers and Indians are pretty established at shortstop.
DA: I will sign to play shortstop and left feeld at the same time.
TSF: The Rangers’ shortstop is Venezuelan and the Indians’ shortstop is Puerto Rican.
DA: Do they hit 75 bombs? Because I can do that. Just wait until I make it to the big tyne.
5. Other than the Ayala appearance, the fifth annual Big League Weekend has grown into a tired act. Along those lines, the postgame musical shows were Smash Mouth (Friday) and Los Lonely Boys (Saturday), and a fan was spotted wearing a Vlad Guerrero Rangers shirt circa 2010.
The right-field wall, all of 272 feet away down the line, was a novelty the first couple years and again last year when Joey Gallo played, but it has always been a nuisance to pitchers trying to make an Opening Day roster.
The playing surface seems like it could be hazardous. The Alamodome is probably a health hazard. And just think: Next year the Final Four will be played here.
That development is a good one because the NCAA has a stranglehold on the facility and won’t allow a sixth annual Big League Weekend. The Rangers could very well be back in 2019, though the concept will be reconsidered late in 2018.
No need: Big League Weekend has run its course.