As everyone still at Texas Rangers spring training really gets the itch to get on the charter plane and head home in fewer than 48 hours, someone is playing a cruel joke.
Thunderstorms are expected in the Metroplex on Wednesday afternoon and evening, just as the charter is expected to be touching down. Team Star-Telegram could be affected, too.
I’ll hold off on weeping until my flight is shown as late. If no news on the final roster comes out of camp, maybe I’ll head to the airport early and fly standby.
Based on Monday, that looks like real possibility.
Thoughts? Here are The Surprise Five.
1. Everything that manager Jeff Banister said about the reasons behind the Rangers A) not naming A.J. Griffin the fifth starter and B) not naming the bench pieces makes sense, even though all the evidence has been gathered.
The Rangers are being ultra cautious in case of an injury, which they know is entirely possible; in case they decide to use player options in the first week of the season, which is a strong possibility; and in case a can’t-miss trade or waiver pickup falls directly into their lap, which is their track record.
Banister and another source shot down the likelihood of someone from outside the organization crashing the party, but history might suggest otherwise.
Remember Dustin Nippert? He was acquired in 2008 as the Rangers played exhibition games in Oklahoma City, pushing Wes Littleton to Triple A only two days before the season started.
Nippert isn’t alone. Rule 5 picks Seth Rosin and Logan Verrett have been acquired late the past two springs and have made the Opening Day roster. Chris Gimenez was claimed off waivers two days before Opening Day in 2014, a move that bumped Kevin Kouzmanoff to Triple A.
Sam Freeman (2015) and Andres Blanco (2010) were acquired the final week of camp and made the opening roster.
See? Banister was making perfect sense.
But it seems like the Rangers’ brain trust are making this process a little more difficult than it needs to be. Pick the roster, let players who are making the team know if they’ve made the team, and give the ones who don’t a chance to find a job somewhere else or time wrap their minds around going to Triple A.
2. The Rangers have also had their share of roster surprises not related to late-camp or last-minute pickups. It looks like 2016 will be an exception. Delino DeShields probably rates as a surprise last season, but he’s no Mason Tobin.
Tobin was the feel-good story of spring training in 2011, when he got just about everyone out after not pitching in 2010 and landed on the Opening Day roster. His arm blew out a couple weeks later, and he never pitched in the majors again.
Robbie Ross pulled the upset in 2012. Leury Garcia and Nick Tepesch did it in 2013.
Nick Martinez might be the ultimate upset, even ahead of Tobin. Martinez made rotation to open 2014 even though he wasn’t even in big league spring training and made one — one — appearance in a Cactus League game as a just-in-case pitcher.
That was also the year Tanner Scheppers was the Opening Day starter and Derek Holland tripped over his dog and wrecked his knee. And Prince Fielder had neck surgery. And Mitch Moreland had an ankle rebuilt. And Jurickson Profar’s arm started falling off. And, well, how about I just stop there?
3. Griffin has to be the No. 5 starter, right? Right. But that doesn’t mean that he will be on the Rangers’ Opening Day roster.
Banister said that the Rangers are very much leaning toward having four starters and eight relievers on April 4 because the fifth starter isn’t needed until April 8. Griffin, in camp on a minor league deal, doesn’t need to be added to the 25- and 40-man rosters until then.
That could lead to Martinez or Phil Klein making the roster and then getting optioned to Triple A to make room for Griffin. The Rangers would still need a 40-man spot and have ways to create one.
I’m just not sure they want to have to create five 40-man spots. Yes, five. That’s possible if Griffin, Drew Stubbs, Pedro Ciriaco, Bobby Wilson and Cesar Ramos — all in camp on minor league deals — make the Opening Day roster.
It’s possible to create the spots, but to do so might sacrifice some of the quality depth the Rangers believe they have at Triple A. And if general manager Jon Daniels has learned anything from 2014, it’s the importance of quality depth.
The Rangers could look for ways to get something in return for players on the 40-man bubble. They might not get much, but not much is better than nothing at all.
4. Chris Gimenez remains the favorite to be the second Rangers catcher with Robinson Chirinos as the primary guy, but many like the camp that Wilson has had.
Wilson is thought to be a better receiver and thrower than Gimenez, whose throwing has gotten better as camp has stretched on. Gimenez had right shoulder surgery right after the season and then had a minor setback over the winter.
Gimenez has more offensive upside, and the Rangers remember that he was a big part — bigger than Wilson — of the Rangers’ stretch success in 2015. I’m guessing Cole Hamels remembers, too. They were paired for Hamels’ final 10 starts last season, and the Rangers won them all.
Yu Darvish has always been pro-Gimenez. Before he was shut down in 2014, Darvish asked the Rangers to bring Gimenez back from Triple A to serve as his personal catcher.
True story. He also at one time liked throwing to J.P. Arencibia.
Darvish might not want to say that out loud to anyone.
31 Games caught in 2015 by Bobby Wilson. Chris Gimenez caught 36. They were added to the Rangers’ roster July 31.
5. One of those in roster limbo is Freeman, who is out of options as he competes for a spot in the bullpen. He needs more time with the Rangers to be schooled by the beat writers on comedies from the 70s and 80s.
On Monday, he asked three of us beat guys in camp — with ages spanning from early 40s to middle 50s — if they had ever seen Animal House. He just saw it, and, like others his age, didn’t think it was all that funny.
The writers, meanwhile, started naming their favorite scenes and reciting lines. Freeman then revealed that he’s never seen Fletch, but his dad made him watch Blazing Saddles.
My top five from the era are Caddyshack, Animal House, Airplane, Blazing Saddles and Slap Shot. Fletch, Vacation and Naked Gun are pushing for the top five. Underrated? Seems Like Old Times.
So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.
It’s easy to grin when your ship comes in and you’ve got the stock market beat. But a man who is worthwhile is a man who can smile when his shorts are too tight in the seat.
Judge Elihu Smails