We’re headed down the home stretch of spring training. Only 10 days left in Arizona. It seems like only yesterday I was getting used to the alarm clock going off at 6 a.m. for the unholy early spring clubhouse times for media out here. The whole regular season is played at night but March has to be on Army basic training time. What gives? I’ll save that gripe for another day. Too tired anyway. Here’s your Surprise Five from Sunday:
1. Dog days of March — If you look at the spring training season (all 36 games) as a microcosm of the 162-game schedule, the Rangers are hitting the dog days of August this week. The have 10 days (and 11 games) remaining before heading back to Arlington March 30 for two final exhibition games against the Indians at Globe Life Park on April 1-2. Sunday’s five-error mess sort of had the feel of a mid-August meltdown.
2. Fifth Starter Shakedown — The final 10 days in Arizona will offer several intriguing position battles that, on the surface at least, still seem wide open. Jeremy Guthrie, A.J. Griffin, Chi Chi Gonzalez and Nick Martinez are still fighting for the fifth spot in the rotation. At the moment, Guthrie, with his experience edge, looks like the favorite. But he’s been slowed by back issues and last pitched in a major league game March 11. He’s scheduled to pitch Monday.
3. Hamilton’s health — The biggest injury news on Sunday morning (and I’m not being sarcastic) is that outfielder Josh Hamilton is feeling pain-free in his left knee. He expects to be on the field doing “baseball activities,” as assistant general manager Thad Levine likes to say, later this week. Hamilton is cautiously optimistic that he’ll be clear to play in about five to six weeks. He’s not concerned with the end date yet. He’ll take it very slow in hopes of fending off any setbacks.
4. Roster cuts imminent — Manager Jeff Banister said after Sunday’s game that another set of roster moves are coming soon. He didn’t specify a day but expect some trimming either Monday or Tuesday. With several spots on the Opening Day roster still up for grabs this round of moves are likely to be small, with some players destined for Double and Triple A rosters heading that direction even if they’ve performed well in major league camp.
5. Offensive offense — Speaking of performing well. How about the exact opposite? That would be the Rangers offense, at least the guys who didn’t make the trip to San Antonio to play in that bandbox called the Alamodome. Texas has scored one run in each of their past three games in Arizona, including in Sunday’s 5-1 loss to the Angels. The lone run Sunday came courtesy of Ryan Rua, one of those San Antonio boys. Must’ve been the Mexican food.