Tablet Sports

Fans get chance to meet Texas Rangers, old and new

Jessica Myers wasn’t going to let morning temperatures in the 30s stop her from making the trip from her home in Rhome to Rangers Ballpark for the team’s annual Fan Fest.

Myers, 30, got to the stadium around 7:45 a.m. in order to meet the newest Rangers, such as Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo. She’s excited about the 2014 season, even though the team traded away one of her favorite players, Ian Kinsler, and have had back-to-back disappointing Septembers.

“I’m sad Kinsler is gone, but I’m a Rangers fan,” Myers said. “It doesn’t matter if they win or lose or who they traded, I’m still a fan. It’s just like that with the Cowboys, too.”

Myers was among the thousands of fans who showed up at the stadium on a chilly Saturday. The team drew in fans by offering a range of activities from Q&A sessions with general manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington to autograph sessions with Choo, Fielder, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus and more.

Fans were also able to run the bases, sit in the Rangers’ dugout, tour the clubhouse and see the workout facility.

“It’s very beneficial to have this in the stadium, I like it this way,” said Duane Meaux, a 57-year-old Colleyville resident.

Meaux said he was pleased with the Rangers’ off-season moves. It’s been a busy winter for general manager Jon Daniels and his staff, beginning with the blockbuster trade that sent Kinsler to Detroit for Fielder.

The Rangers then completed a four-player trade with Oakland that centered on Craig Gentry going to the A’s in exchange for UT Arlington product Michael Choice. They made a splash in free agency by giving Choo a $130 million contract, but saw Joe Nathan sign elsewhere. Nelson Cruz is also expected to sign with another team.

Moves on a smaller scale have also been made, but the most divisive decision among Rangers fans remains trading Kinsler. Some people loved it, pointing to the acquisition of Fielder and the opportunity it created for Jurickson Profar.

Other people hated it, however.

“My wife is absolutely not OK with the Kinsler trade, she said she’s only going to come to the Tigers’ series,” said Nicholas Long, a 33-year-old from Fort Worth. “But I’m OK with it. It’s tough, but Jon Daniels has got this thing. I got pure faith in JD.”

Said Jarred Lemmon, a 32-year-old from Linden: “The Gentry trade was hard to get over, but Kinsler wasn’t. I just never liked Kinsler’s attitude. I heard a radio interview with him one time where he was bashing the fans for not coming out and that never sat well with me. So I’m excited to see what Fielder can do here.”

The Kinsler trade even came up during Washington’s Q&A session. A young fan sadly asked, “Why did you trade Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder?”

Washington explained that it’s difficult in today’s game to acquire a talent such as Fielder.

Fielder, of course, is someone the majority of fans are ready to embrace. Some even lamented the ballpark renovations from last winter that cut down on the jet-stream effect to right field.

“Wish we still had that for Prince,” said Heather Searcy, a 28-year-old from Roanoke. “But I’m excited about the team. It was weird walking through the clubhouse and not recognizing too many names, but I like all the additions.”

Said Cody Elsner, a 42-year-old from Arlington: “One of the reasons I came out here today was because of Fielder. I watched his dad play with the Yankees and he was sort of a Rangers killer back then. So to see a Fielder with the Rangers … I’m stoked about it.”

The Rangers’ faithful are ready for another season and it’s getting closer with pitchers and catchers reporting to Surprise, Ariz., for spring training in three weeks.