A crowd had gathered around right-hander Spencer Patton on Friday morning at a table in the Texas Rangers’ clubhouse as he and as many as five other pitchers were trying to solve the USA Today crossword puzzle.
Working puzzles has become a ritual for Patton, Nick Tepesch and a few others to help pass the time before the morning workout.
Pitching coach Mike Maddux is often asked to provide assistance.
“I’m more the consultant,” he said.
Of particular trouble Friday was a 13-letter clue: TV show featuring Mr. Roarke. Help was provided by a veteran member of the media, and F-A-N-T-A-S-Y-I-S-L-A-N-D was the missing piece that provided a boost to help the pitchers finish off the puzzle.
Nick Martinez also provided assistance when needed by double-checking with the USA Today puzzle app.
“I’m trying to get back in the swing of things,” said Patton, who also works puzzles on flights. “I usually need help. Maddux comes by and give me a couple.”
Patton and Tepesch are a little rusty when it comes to solving puzzles. Neither takes a newspaper in the off-season, though Patton said he received some puzzle books as a gift during the off-season.
“It kind of helps you keep your mind going on different things,” Tepesch said. “I’m not a big reader or anything like that, so it gives me something to do. Honestly, I didn’t do one this winter, but whenever papers are regularly available, I’ll try to grab one.”
Manager Jeff Banister uses a fair share of catchphrases during his daily media briefing, and one that has surfaced lately is “dig it out of the dirt.”
He uses it to compliment a player, and that player Friday was outfielder Jared Hoying.
A players who digs it out of the dirt is a gritty player who battles and does whatever it takes to make a positive contribution.
“When you watch a baseball player and he doesn’t do any one single thing better than any other, and he seems like he’s in the mix of things,” Banister said. “It’s willing to be multifunctional on the field and do what it takes to be a ballplayer to help his ballclub win.”
Number of the day
2:45 Length of Rangers game, in hours and minutes, Thursday. It was the quickest game of the season, and eight of their first 10 games were played in under three hours. Maybe the new pace-of-play rules are actually working.
“I don’t want to get into that too much. Everyone is different. My reason of how or why [this happened] might be different from others. Sooner or later, I’m going to talk about that. It’s going to be in my book, so please buy that.”
— Right-hander Yu Darvish, who dodged a question on if his elbow injury was caused by the difference between pro baseball in Japan and the United States.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760