Two of the older veterans hoping to make the Texas Rangers’ major league roster when camp breaks in April got off to a good start Sunday afternoon in the first of two intrasquad games.
Ryan Ludwick and Nate Schierholtz each had two hits to lead Team Wood over Team Mikulik 5-4. Ludwick, Carlos Peguero and Ed Lucas each doubled.
Peguero’s two-run shot to left-center field came against Jerad Eickhoff. Catcher Jorge Alfaro was 2 for 2 with a solo homer against Alec Asher.
Most veteran position players did not play, including Adrian Beltre, Prince Fielder, Elvis Andrus and Leonys Martin. The second and final intrasquad game is scheduled for Monday, weather permitting.
Yu Darvish, Nick Tepesch, Nick Martinez and Ross Ohlendorf each worked scoreless innings. Darvish struck out Michael Choice and Rougned Odor after forcing a groundout to second from Antoan Richardson to start the game.
Left-hander Ross Detwiler allowed two hits but struck out two without allowing any runs.
Minor league players committed five errors, including three errant throws, a dropped fly ball and a fielding error.
Message of perspective
Few people need life put in perspective less than Rangers manager Jeff Banister.
The 51-year-old beat cancer as a teen and then overcame a major spinal cord injury during a home plate collision in college.
But he shared a story at the end of Sunday’s media briefing that offered another jolt of reality.
Banister called to encourage Lake Travis High School pitcher Walker Reese, 18, who is battling a rare form of cancer. Banister received a letter from Reese’s family earlier in the day. Reese received the diagnosis three weeks ago and has already begun chemotherapy. The cancer, called desmoplastic small-round-cell tumor, has a five-year survival rate of about 15 percent. The conversation obviously affected Banister.
“For a 51-year-old father of two in charge of and responsible to a group of men who get to play this wondrous game of baseball, it kind of threw perspective my way for a guy who has been through a number of things,” Banister said, choking back his emotions. “We get to come out and enjoy our jobs and have fun doing it. Cancer is that word that kind of shudders us all.”
Banister asked Reese what kind of message he should give to his players during Sunday’s practice. Banister was stunned by the request.
“To play each game and prepare each day as though it was the last one they get an opportunity to play,” Banister said. “Out of respect for him, I will walk around and give that message to each one of our guys.”
Banister’s message to Reese was to find something positive during his fight and to hold on to it tight. And to allow his loved ones to provide strength and support.
“That’s probably the most challenging thing, to allow the people around you to be the strength and not try to take it all upon yourself,” Banister said.
“It was a really cool experience to talk to someone as high up in the organization as him,” said Reese, who was born in Fort Worth and grew up a Rangers fan. “He had a lot of things to say. It meant a lot to know that he was thinking of me.”
Left-hander Derek Holland was scratched from the Texas Rangers’ intrasquad game Sunday with “normal spring soreness” in his shoulder, but both he and general manager Jon Daniels cautioned that it was strictly a precautionary decision.
“No alarm bells,” Daniels said.
“Please, let’s not blow this out of proportion,” Holland said.
Holland missed the majority of last season after undergoing knee surgery in January 2014 after tripping over his dog on a staircase, an injury that triggered an unprecedented rash of injuries for the Rangers.
He felt tenderness in his shoulder Friday while playing catch, but completed the workout. Though he has never experienced these symptoms in spring training, he said that he has pitched through it during the regular season.
Holland said that he tried to convince the medical staff to let him throw Sunday.
“To me, I’d consider it a midseason thing,” Holland said. “You get a little tender there.”
He hopes to resume throwing shortly, but pitching coach Mike Maddux will likely rework the pitching schedule for the first week of games.
“I’m just taking the day off,” Holland said. “No biggie.”