The Texas Rangers are playing two today.
They’ve got an afternoon contest against the Cleveland Indians in Goodyear and then a nightcap against the Kansas City Royals here in Surprise.
Yours truly will be bypassing the Indians contest to watch Martin Perez throw in a minor-league game on the backfields of the Surprise Recreation Campus.
Perez is scheduled to throw five innings and 75 pitches in his first game action today. For now, though, here’s the Surprise Five from today …
1. Manager Jeff Banister spent a good portion of his meeting with reporters today discussing the possible construction of the Rangers roster. Traditionally, teams go with 13 position players and 12 pitchers.
But with the Rangers exploring the possibility of using a six-man rotation, they could opt to go with 13 pitchers and 12 position players. More flexibility on the pitching staff would leave them with a short bench, but that’s the initial plan.
“We’ve talked about initially 13 [pitchers],” Banister said. “Again, we play out all scenarios. We’re not at that point yet. We may not even be there until the very end. I’d love to be able to say that this is how we’re going and we can’t. There’s still, like I said, somebody could be on the field right now down on their back. So to say this is how we’re going … I think our best thought process is to play out all those scenarios.
“I could see us going with 13. I could see us going with 12. I could see us going with a short bench or the extra guy on the bench. Ultimately, what is the best construct of the roster that is going to give us the best manageable set of players for winning baseball games? And that may be how we start and two weeks later it could change on us.”
2. Jurickson Profar is viewed as a winning piece for the Rangers at this point, Banister said.
“We break today, there’s a case for Jurickson being a significant player on this team,” Banister said. “One of the brighter spots of all of spring training has been Profar. I told you that from the very beginning, when he walked in and just his attitude, the maturity of him, how he’s doing his work, I see Jurickson playing a significant role on this team.”
Profar went into Monday’s games batting .259 with two doubles and two RBI in Cactus League action.
3. The backup catcher position remains wide open more than halfway through camp. And this is expected to be a significant role for whoever gets the job behind Robinson Chirinos.
“All the catchers that we have in camp are in play,” Banister said.
That includes Jose Trevino, who spent last season at Double A Frisco. Trevino is batting .333 so far in spring, but is known for his elite defensive play. Trevino has won a Gold Glove as the top defensive catcher in the minor leagues the past two years.
“Jose has had a nice camp,” Banister said. “We know defensively who he is. That decision [on the backup job] hasn’t been made just yet. We still have ongoing meetings. We’ve liked what we’ve seen [from Trevino].”
Of course, the Rangers could explore outside options for the backup job. Players will be cut from other squads in the coming weeks.
“Teams are always looking, but my job is to prepare these guys,” Banister said.
4. Banister made similar comments about the closer job as he did the backup catcher spot. The Rangers have options in camp, but are also monitoring the outside market.
Greg Holland, a three-time All-Star who saved 41 games for the Rockies last season, remains on the free agent market.
“I’ve heard that,” Banister said, smiling.
Has he conversed about that?
“We talk about players every day,” Banister said. “Then how to find a way to make this team the best possible way we can.”
The internal options for now include Tim Lincecum, Keone Kela, Jake Diekman and Alex Claudio.
5. Right-hander Jesse Chavez, who started 21 games for the Angels last season, is pitching tonight.
The expectation is for him to throw about 60-65 pitches, although some of those may come in the bullpen if he’s economical with his pitches.
Banister said the Rangers are still looking at Chavez for a starting role, or possibly a swing man role.
“He’s still being stretched out as a guy who can start and that plus-one type role [if the Rangers use a ‘five-plus-one’ rotation],” Banister said. “This is kind of the norm for him. This is what he’s been, so this is how he’s getting ready.”