Another day, another dollar or millions of dollars Saturday for Texas Rangers pitchers and catchers. Relievers took the mound for bullpen sessions while starters long-tossed and did fielding practice before high-tailing it back to the clubhouse.
Of note was Cole Hamels holding the State of Cole Hamels Address, Tanner Scheppers scheduled for left-knee surgery, Yu Darvish continuing to be media-friendly, Tony Barnette debuting his funky delivery, and Jurickson Profar turning 23.
1. When Hamels talks, the media listens, primarily because it doesn’t happen all that often.
That’s not because he’s a jerk — quite the contrary, in fact — or offended by stink and flies that come with the retched media horde.
Hamels is a great talker, pontificating in complete and complex sentences, and has a valuable veteran’s perspective that allows him speak to things that younger pitcher can’t.
The No. 1 reason Hamels’ quotes can be hard to find in print or on the airwaves is he squeezes every possible moment of time to get ready for his next start or, in this case, his next season.
But Hamels is the undisputed ace of the Rangers, something that will become debatable once Darvish is allowed to return from Tommy John surgery, and the media needs to talk to the club’s ace.
Hamels knows that, and he talked Saturday morning for 13-plus minutes on a wide range of topics. Does he like being a veteran leader who helps young pitchers? Yes. Who were his mentors coming up? Brett Myers, Cliff Lee, Jamie Moyer, Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay (from the great city of Arvada, Colo). How is his relationship coming with Darvish? Good.
Here’s a sampling.
“I feel good. Able to get some good workouts back and forth from Texas and Philly.
Having a couple springs under your belt and understand what it takes to get ready for April, it’s just a matter of putting in the type of time and getting the recovery you need and then knowing when to take a step up and dial it in.
“Spring is kind of funny because your last memory of competition you’re probably at your highest peak. Everything is dialed in, you’re throwing every pitch you have spot on, and then you come into spring and you’re all over the place. You’ve got to develop that muscle memory again.
“I know what it takes, how many reps I need. And how many reps against hitters that I’ll need before I’m really locked in and know I can go out there and compete at the highest level and succeed.
“Being a little bit older and you have these young guys coming in … every year they’re bigger, strong and throw harder and can run faster. It’s impressive to see and it’s good for us because it keeps pushing us, and I like to be pushed.”
2. The fact that Profar is only 23 kind of boggles the mind. He’s been around forever, it seems, even though he hasn’t been around.
He’ll grab the spotlight next week, when position players report and have their first workout. He’s likely not going to be an option for the Rangers until the second half, after he gets regular at-bats for the first time since 2012. I don’t consider the at-bats he got in 2013 during his rookie season regular.
He’s still on target to play shortstop, though, if the arm shows that it’s healthy, he might get time in left field and become an option there if, for whatever reason (Josh Hamilton), a player is needed.
Jurickson Profar had surgery a year ago to stabilize his right shoulder. A years-old labrum tear was repaired, and he has completed his throwing program and his throwing to bases without any issues.
3. Catcher Chris Gimenez mentioned in the dazzling interview he and I did after the workout that the power stuff in the bullpen really impressed him. He mentioned Tom Wilhelmsen, a former teammate in Seattle, and Barnette, the star closer in Japan who was signed as a free agent, as pitchers who will only make the bullpen stronger.
Barnette picked up some of the hitches and deception commonly found among Japanese pitchers. He comes set with his hands at his right hip, and he pauses before pushing off toward home plate.
Scheppers is no longer a candidate for a bullpen job because of torn articular cartilage in his left knee. He needs an operation, which will be Wednesday, and he isn’t expected back until after the All-Star break.
This injury is not the same as the knee bruise he has last year or the elbow injury he had in 2014 or the various and plentiful injuries he’s had throughout his career, including in college.
4. The addition of Jeremy Guthrie on a minor-league deal brings the number of contenders for the No. 5 spot in the rotation up to 600. Not really, of course, but the field is now more crowded than the Republicans vying to be president. That’s a lot.
Guthrie wasn’t very good last year for the Royals (5.95 ERA, 1.551 WHIP, 29 homers allowed), though he had a nice start against the Rangers and is a veteran who has been decent in the not-so-distant past.
Guthrie joins, among many others, A.J. Griffin, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Nick Martinez, Phil Klein and Anthony Ranaudo in the race to be the guy whose primary job is to fill Darvish’s rotation spot.
58 Players on the Rangers’ spring roster once Jeremy Guthrie passes a physical. Tanner Scheppers is on the roster but out until July.
5. Time to be self-serving: With the demise of Twitter apparently near, I have finally joined Instagram. If that floats your boat, find me at jeffwilson_fwst. Very similar to my Twitter account @JeffWilson_FWST, and not too far removed from my Facebook page www.facebook.com/JeffWilsonStarTelegramTexasRangers/. Like the page and get Rangers stories, photos and video right to your feed.