Progress has been made as the Texas Rangers attempt to address their starting pitching, general manager Jon Daniels said, and that includes the possibility of transitioning hard-throwing reliever Matt Bush to the rotation.
Daniels said Bush is still a reliever when the Rangers chart out their 2017 roster and his workouts this off-season have been geared toward bullpen work. But a significant faction in the organization believes Bush can be an effective starter thanks to his stuff, including 100-mph heat, and an easily repeatable, smooth delivery.
Bush made his major league debut in May after more than three years in a Florida prison for an alcohol-related driving incident, and by the end of the season had become the Rangers’ most dependable reliever.
“It’s something we’ve talked about,” Daniels said. “There are several folks who appraised it as a consideration. There are strong reasons to think he can do it, but I’m not sure we want to do it.”
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The Rangers have had some successes and failures in moving relievers to the rotation. They hit on C.J. Wilson and Alexi Ogando in 2010 and 2011, but Neftali Feliz and Tanner Scheppers suffered significant injuries as they took on the heavier workload.
One aspect fueling Bush’s case is that he is living in the area, and his workouts can be managed and closely monitored ahead of spring training. It seems unlikely that he would be thrust behind Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish in the rotation so that the Rangers could more easily manage his innings.
For now, though, it’s just an idea that might not go anywhere if the Rangers find the starters they want on the open market. Daniels said that the Rangers have had multiple substantive conversations with available pitchers, though he declined to name names and said that no deals are imminent.
“It’s 80 degrees, so it doesn’t feel like it, but we’re well into the winter,” Daniels said. “We’ve had some advanced dialogue on a few fronts. It wouldn’t surprise me if something came to a head pretty soon.”
▪ The Rangers’ Opening Day game against the Cleveland Indians will begin at 6:05 p.m. April 3 at Globe Life Park. The game will air on ESPN and Fox Sports Southwest. The Rangers haven’t played a nighttime opener at home since 1995.
▪ The Rangers have interviewed multiple candidates, including former major league outfielder Roberto Kelly, to fill the coaching staff vacancy created when field coordinator Jayce Tingler transitioned to the front office. Among Tingler’s duties was coaching outfielders.
▪ Daniels said the Rangers expect to announce the front-office structure, including at least one additional hire, possibly as soon as Friday to plug the multiple holes created when former assistant general manager Thad Levine departed to be the Minnesota Twins’ GM.