The first day of full-squad workouts at Texas Rangers spring training arrived Wednesday, and Josh Hamilton wasn’t on the field. And he won’t be for a couple weeks.
But 56 others were — also exclude Tanner Scheppers, who had knee surgery back in Texas — and it was the longest day of camp before the two intrasquad games Sunday and Monday.
Thoughts? Here are The Surprise Five.
1. The Rangers have carefully designed an eight-week program to get Hamilton and his left knee ready to go by early May.
Great. Then what?
If they aren’t asking themselves that question, shame on them. But they are, hence another confirmation that they are talking to free-agent outfielders and giving their internal candidates a closer look.
The Rangers are looking to hand a free agent only a minor-league contract. Baltimore’s signing of Dexter Fowler, though, could jump-start a spree of big-league deals for the remaining free agents, and the Rangers might have to guarantee a roster spot to the free agent they want most.
That can easily be done by moving Scheppers to the 60-day disabled list. They gave Ike Davis a minor-league deal that will pay him $1.5 million if he makes the roster, so that and maybe some incentives seems pretty reasonable for David Murphy or Austin Jackson.
Murphy, by the way, put together a decent season in 2015 with 10 homers, 50 RBIs, a .283 average, a .318 on-base percentage and a .421 slugging percentage in 361 at-bats.
Hamilton, albeit in 170 at-bats, slashed at .253/.291/.441 with eight homers and 25 RBIs.
2. Hamilton, probably because he has so much experience doing so, is always very good speaking to the media after a big moment in his career.
He charmed the pants off the All-Star Game media in 2008, when he hit 28 first-round homers in the Home Run Derby, and then was completely open and honest when those Deadspin pictures and story hit the Internet in August 2009.
There have been many more, like the way he warmed up to Angels fans after signing in December 2012 and how he has faced the media after each relapse or injury.
It’s a good thing that he’s so good at handling the media, but unfortunate that he’s had so many opportunities to show off those skills.
3. More proof that Yu Darvish is becoming one with the media: He didn’t rip my head off after I walked up to him and jokingly called him chubby in Japanese (debu).
After the workout, in which he threw 20 pitches off a half-mound, he gave it back to me after seeing a photo from 2010 before I lost, at one point, 52 pounds.
“Ah, you were fat,” he said, and was 100 percent correct.
Again, contrary to the Twitter talk in Japan, Darvish is not fat. Not even close. He’s just a big man — he is 6-foot-5, after all — who used his year off to get stronger.
220 Yu Darvish’s weight as listed in the Rangers media guide. He is likely heavier than that, though not remotely fat.
4. Matt Treanor spent part of his day back on familiar turf, the back fields at the Surprise Recreation Campus for the first full-squad workout.
The former Rangers catcher is fully retired from baseball and serving as a full-time father while his wife, the gold-medal winning beach volleyball player Misty May-Treanor, works on a business endeavor.
Treanor, though, would like to get back into the game at some point. He said that the Rangers offered him the position of minor-league catching coordinator last year, but he didn’t have the time with his daughter younger than 1 year old.
Good dude. He would do well as a coach.
Matt Treanor was part of the Rangers’ World Series run in 2010, serving as the backup to Bengie Molina and as the personal catcher for C.J. Wilson.
5. Jeff Banister declined to share the intimate details of his pre-camp speech to players Wednesday morning, though memory serves that last year he gave the media a window into what was said.
The motto was “Why not us?” No media expert had picked the Rangers to do squat, so why not rain on their parade by winning the division and reach the World Series?
The Rangers got close to their ultimate goal, and definitely shoved those preseason prognostications up some media behinds.
A few players said that Banister used his speech to remind them of 2015, and how the Rangers were left for dead. That’s not necessarily true this spring, though many are snuggling up to the Astros as the team to beat in the West.
How about, “Why not us again?”
Simple. Feels good. Easy to remember.
T-shirts coming soon.
I like to think that it’s pretty special to be in that room, not to exclude any of you guys. For me that’s one of those private moments I like to keep between the players.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister on his pre-camp speech