Spring training hasn’t even started yet for the Texas Rangers, though pitchers and catchers did report Thursday, and the Star-Telegram Arizona Bureau has been open for only three days.
But that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening, and clearly plenty is happening at the Surprise Recreation Campus.
Josh Hamilton’s knee is sore, Derek Holland has been talking about going to “fat camp,” Yu Darvish is throwing, Jurickson Profar says he’s good to go, and the front office is looking at all those quality free agents still without jobs.
Thoughts? Here are a few:
1. Hamilton doesn’t tell the media everything, but he will answer just about any question. As such, when asked Tuesday about the health of his left knee, he said it was sore. He didn’t say it was killing him. He didn’t say that he needed time off. It was sore, and he wants to know why.
As of Tuesday, a week before position players were to report, it wasn’t too big of a problem. Even Hamilton said so. But chances are it will be eventually be a bigger deal. The Rangers, though, are bracing for it. Hamilton deep down is coming to realize this is his new normal. That will serve everyone well.
It is keeping the Rangers open-minded regarding the remaining free-agent pool. It’s a deep pool, too. Austin Jackson, though, might be of interest. Signing David Murphy would make a lot of fans (and media members) happy. The very quotable veteran is the ultimate team player who has come to accept that he’s a platoon player.
Adding an outfielder is something to keep an eye on.
Josh Hamilton hasn’t played more than 89 games since 2013, his first with the Angels, and played only 50 games after getting late start and dealing with injuries in 2015.
2. The notion that Derek Holland looked heavy, looks heavy or is heavy was on the left-hander’s mind Wednesday as the media converged on the new, massive spring-training clubhouse for the first time.
There will be more on this later on star-telegram.com and in the Star-Telegram.
Manager Jeff Banister and general manager Jon Daniels were asked last week about Fat Derek, and they didn’t really outright refute it. Banister defended Holland by saying that he also gained weight early in the off-season. Daniels said that as people age, their bodies begin to act differently and Holland learned that over the winter after trying to party away his misery after season’s end.
The truth, though, is that Holland works hard to be in shape. He might be the hardest working player on the team, and he likes to work out. And ... he’s not fat.
217 Derek Holland’s weight, in pounds, two days before the first workout for Rangers pitchers and catchers
3. Profar said that his throwing program has been completed without any issues in his surgically repaired right shoulder, which will lead to the inevitable question, “Can he get back?”
Get back to what?
When Profar was last seen on a major-league field, he was scuffling as a super utility player in his first full season. That was in 2013, a season he entered as the No. 1 prospect in baseball. And thanks to the Ian Kinsler-Prince Fielder swap, Profar was anointed the starting second baseman for 2014.
That job is long gone, so what is Profar trying to get back to?
A realistic goal is to regain his status as highly regarded young player. No matter how highly the Rangers think of him, they don’t even know. But he’s still young — he turns 23 Saturday — and still has the confidence, makeup and instincts that made him a top prospect. The swing looked good in the Arizona Fall League, too.
How about this? Profar needs to get back on the field, stay healthy, and see what happens. The catch is that, after missing two year of at-bats, it could be awhile before anyone really knows what will happen with him.
Jurickson Profar batted .267 (20 for 75) in 20 games in the Arizona Fall League last year. He did not play the field but will do so this spring.
4. The Tuesday report date for position players might be moot. Many players are already in camp, and those who haven’t arrived yet typically show up ahead of the required date.
Mitch Moreland has been in Arizona since Feb. 1. Hamilton has been in town since Sunday. Shin-Soo Choo is camp, as are Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor among many others.
Adrian Beltre isn’t in Surprise, but he often shows up a few days early. Fielder is 2 for 2 when it comes to beating the report date.
Maybe it’s not significant, but it can’t hurt. But it probably is significant. It could be read that the players are hungry to take the first step toward their ultimate goal, the World Series. It says they like to be around each other, and that they like to do the extra work even if it costs them the last precious days with their wives and kids.
57 Players on the Rangers’ spring roster
5. Compared to temperatures earlier this week and those in the seven-day forecast, it’s going to be cold Thursday in Surprise. Like, 78 cold.
If these temps keep up the rest of the month, it will be unusual. Mornings early in camp are usually pants- and jacket-wearing chilly, occasionally with brisk winds. It’s common to have days when temps don’t hit 70. And it seems like a workout gets rained out each spring before games, and then usually one game is lost to rain.
Camp doesn’t break until March 30, so there’s plenty of time for this perfect weather to break. But no one is going to complain if it doesn’t.