A chunk of the Texas Rangers' spring pitching staff — Jake Diekman estimates as many as 90 percent — have hit the dead-arm phase of spring training.
Diekman described it has his whole body feeling heavy and tired, and it's something pitchers go through each camp. It's part of the drill, and they still have to grind out their outings and get their work in.
That's what Diekman did Friday.
The scoreboard radar gun didn't have him throwing any harder than 90 mph, and his command wasn't sharp. The result was four runs and only two outs, and the destruction of a box and cursing in the dugout tunnel/echo chamber afterward.
But he's not worried about it. No one else should be worried about what they're seeing from Rangers pitchers of late, either.
They weren't overly effective in a 10-7 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
Here's the Surprise Five from Sunday.
1. Doug Fister completed his first Cactus League outing of the spring without skipping much of a beat, tossing three scoreless innings on two hits and a walk against a considerably watered-down Mariners lineup.
He was mostly pleased with his performance in his first outing against batters not in a Rangers uniform, but noted things to work on that most amateur eyes wouldn't catch. Most pleasing was his rhythm.
For Fister, working quickly helps him maintain his rhythm and his delivery, and he works as quickly as an opposing hitter will let him.
In others words, Fister don't need no stinkin' pitch clock.
"The pitch clock kind of drives me crazy," he said.
The goal when he pitched at Fresno State was to throw his next pitch in 12 seconds. He doesn't have a goal stated goal now.
"I want to get up there and go," Fister said. "I don't want to give the hitter any more time to think about it. Yeah, they're going to step out on me. They're going to take they're time, but as soon as I'm ready I go."
Not only does it help him, but it helps the defense. They are forced to stay on their toes and are in a steady state of readiness. That keeps them sharp and quick.
It also helps writers working on deadline. Don't discount the importance of that.
2. The line for Mike Minor's second spring outing doesn't look too pretty — five runs (two earned) and only two outs — but he wasn't unhappy with how things went.
The left-hander, signed in the off-season to be in the Rangers' rotation, said that he felt better than he did in his first outing and liked how he threw three of his four pitches.
"My breaking ball sucked today, but I'll work on it," Minor said.
Next up, after throwing 43 pitches between the 25 in the fourth inning and 18 more in the bullpen, will be four innings. He said over the off-season that was where he flat-lined while rehabbing in 2016 and that he's curious to see how he handles it this spring.
Curious, but not worried.
"I've felt pretty good all spring, just new soreness," Minor said. "There's more throwing than being a reliever. I feel tired, but it's not like anything is hurting."
3. The good news for the Rangers against the Mariners is that their starting lineup, which featured nine players who could be on the Opening Day roster, produced seven runs in the first two innings against left-hander James Paxton.
"We looked up out there, and you can envision that lineup together at some point," manager Jeff Banister said. "You liked how they showed up. I like how they swung the bat. Rua showed up well today. All of them really. They were all solid at-bats."
The only glaring differences from what could be the regular lineup were Rua for Shin-Soo Choo at designated hitter and Jurickson Profar at third base for Adrian Beltre, who may or may not still play for the team.
(He hasn't played yet.)
Six of the runs came in the second, when Robinson Chirinos hit a solo homer and Ryan Rua connected for a three-run shot. The starting nine went 9-for-23 before most exited after three plate appearances.
The Rangers are going to score runs in 2018.
4. Those who know college football know that Nick Saban's second recruiting class at Alabama is the one that started the Crimson Tide's resurgence and dominating decade.
Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Mark Barron, Dont'a Hightower, Barrett Jones, Marcell Dareus, Terrence Cody and Courtney Upshaw have all done something in the NFL. Another member, Destin Hood, is trying to do something with the Rangers this spring.
He is making a push to be on the Opening Day roster from a crowded group of outfielders, and he's also trying to add versatility by trying to learn how to play first base.
But enough about the baseball. Let's get back to Ingram and Jones and Saban.
Football was an afterthought growing up for Hood, who as a youngster told his dad that he wanted to be Derek Jeter some day. Then, he started messing around with football because all his friends were doing it, and it turned out he was pretty good.
He received scores of scholarship offers after attending the All-America camp for juniors in San Antonio, and he picked Alabama as Saban zeroed in on Alabama players to build his program.
Ingram is from Michigan, but Barron and Hood went to the same high school in Mobile. Jones is from Foley. Upshaw is from Eufala. Dareus is from Birmingham.
Ultimately, Hood drew attention of scouts after strong showings at Perfect Game and Aflac baseball showcases to the point that he would be the Washington Nationals' second-round draft pick in 2008 and score a $1.1 million signing bonus.
Saban couldn't hold it against him and even would follow his progress and text him words of encouragement.
Baseball, Hood said, was his dream. The dream is still alive.
5. Among the baseball things that continues to completely shock me is how many players opt to not wear cups. If anyone thinks players are soft for wearing so much protective armor, there's nothing gutless about not wearing a cup.
Clueless? Well, you might have a case there.
Players insist that a comfortable cup has yet to be made. They would constantly be forced to adjust themselves, which, apparently, they aren't doing constantly already. It just seems that way.
And diving head-first definitely has the potential to be problematic.
But what about a wicked hop on a grounder? Beltre knows the damage that can cause and still doesn't wear a cup.
What about getting hit by a pitch in the tickets? Most of the players probably are too young to remember poor Eric Davis. But what about a hitter like Joey Gallo, with an open stance in which he's almost flashing the pitcher.
"I never thought about that," he said.
It's impossible to win an argument with a player for wearing an elbow pad or a shin guard or both or more. They want to play and increase their value, and they have to be healthy to do that.
More power to them. Bonus power if they start wearing cups.