Rangers’ season now just a tryout camp

08/24/2014 10:20 PM

08/24/2014 10:38 PM

Clearly, the trade of catcher Geovany Soto to Oakland on Sunday didn’t rattle any teacups on the mantels of the American League contenders.

But for the last-place Texas Rangers, it was as promising a late-August sign as any.

“Why this move now?” general manager Jon Daniels explained. “Because what we have right now are innings and at-bats to find out about guys.”

Fewer at-bats for Soto, in this case, means more playing time for catcher Robinson Chirinos, who has earned an extended look.

For the injury-ravaged Rangers, 33 games remain on what looms as an inexorable burial in the league’s cellar. But it would be a senseless waste of time for them to just stand around on a hot Sunday afternoon, discovering nothing, especially in a 3-1 victory over the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals.

“I think it’s a work in progress,” Daniels said of the recovery project. “I’m hesitant to make any final decisions on next year before we have the true landscape in front of us. But I think we have more information, and that’s what we want to do.”

More innings plus more at-bats equals more information. Sadly, that’s what has become of the season — a tryout camp, of sorts. A spring training in late summer.

But bring it on. Any Rangers fan of reasonable intellect can see by the skid marks what’s happened here, with the club’s biggest bat removed and its pitching rotation shattered.

Lose 100 games? Yawn. Finish behind the Astros? So what?

As long as there’s a faith that the Rangers are moving forward toward 2015, evaluating and sifting, baseball fans here can handle it.

Soto’s departure isn’t likely to alter the Rangers’ final record one bit. Injured in spring training and being paid $3.05 million this season, Soto played in only 10 games, batting .237 in 38 at-bats.

The trade also opens a spot in Texas for catcher Tomas Telis, who was batting .345 at Triple A Round Rock.

“He’s a guy that we had to make a decision on this winter,” Daniels said. “He really has taken a step forward with his game. We want to take a look at both those guys.”

So, who else, Daniels was asked, is passing the late-summer tryout test?

“There are a number of guys in the bullpen that have taken that opportunity and run with it,” he said.

Daniels first singled out Shawn Tolleson, who has pitched in 52 games. The club also wants to get further looks at relievers Phil Klein, Alex Claudio and Jon Edwards.

The Rangers see progress, meanwhile, from young starters Nick Martinez and Nick Tepesch.

Both Adam Rosales and Daniel Robertson, likewise, have argued their cases as legitimate big leaguers and contenders for roster spots in 2015.

The scouting reports on Robertson have proven correct, Daniels said.

“Our reports said he was an extremely high energy guy, a gamer, kind of an overachiever,” he said.

“He wasn’t really in San Diego’s plans. But we had the opportunity with all the injuries, and he’s quietly taken that opportunity and run with it. He seems to do something every time he’s in there to help you in some way or another.”

As for Rosales, manager Ron Washington said, “You know, he can grow on you. He got a chance to play, and he got a chance to show you he can play. He’s been doing a tremendous job.”

More chances this season, one assumes, only equals more information when Washington and Daniels begin making decisions for 2015.

Consider it a late-summer tryout camp.

All things considered this season, bring it on.

About Gil LeBreton

Gil LeBreton

@gilebreton

Gil LeBreton has been entertaining and informing Star-Telegram readers for more than 34 years. He worked for newspapers in his hometown of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Kansas City and Baltimore before finding his true home in Texas. Over the years he's covered 25 Super Bowls, 16 Olympic Games (9 summer, 7 winter), soccer's World Cup, the Masters, the Tour de France, saw Muhammad Ali box, Paul Newman drive a race car and Prince Albert try to steer a bobsled.

A Vietnam veteran, Gil and his wife Gail have two children -- J.P., a computer game designer in San Francisco, and Elise, an actress living in New York. Gil also once briefly held the WBC Junior Welterweight title belt -- he had to, because the guy he was interviewing, champ Bruce Curry, had to suddenly step into the men's room.

Email Gil at gilebreton@star-telegram.com

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