Texas Rangers

Reliever Springs shines as The Opener. Should Rangers consider him for a rotation spot in 2019?

Jeffrey Springs delivered three scoreless innings Sunday as The Opener for the Texas Rangers. He has started in the past but isn’t making noise about doing so again.
Jeffrey Springs delivered three scoreless innings Sunday as The Opener for the Texas Rangers. He has started in the past but isn’t making noise about doing so again. The Associated Press

For those who were wrapped up over the weekend by football season — high school, college or, now, NFL — here’s a handy set of links to catch up on Texas Rangers baseball.

The Star-Telegram Top 10 prospects rankings:

Cole Ragans, Tyler Phillips, Joe Palumbo, Taylor Hearn, Jonathan Hernandez.

Click-worthy stories on the big-league team:

Nomar Mazara, Adrian Beltre says butt-hurt, Yohander Mendez.

I might be biased, but those stories are better than what happened to the Texas Rangers against the Oakland Athletics the past three games.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 7-3 loss Sunday as the A’s completed a weekend sweep.

1. Jeffrey Springs served the The Opener for the second time, and for the second time was really good. He was better Sunday, tossing three scoreless innings on one hit and a hit batsman.

After he left, so did the Rangers’ 3-0 lead. Ariel Jurado, a starting pitcher by trade, recorded only two outs in the fourth inning and allowed five runs in his second time as a reliever.

Not exactly the kind of long, development-friendly outing a team wants to see from one of the young starters its attempting to develop.

Good gravy.

But as manager Jeff Banister has said during the endless talk about The Opener concept, there are two pitchers who are getting a chance to develop. Springs is definitely developing into a nice-looking reliever after replacing Jake Diekman on July 31.

Why not give Springs a chance to be a starting pitcher next season?

“We’ve talked about that,” Banister said. “Is this also a process in being able to develop another guy who could be a starter? We’ll have those discussions.”

He was at times in the minors until last season, and the starter-hungry, rebuilding Rangers shouldn’t be close-minded when it comes to the thought of letting Springs start again.

Springs, though, isn’t going to broach the subject as an MLB rookie who might be better served keeping his opinions to a minimum.

“At the moment, I haven’t thought about it,” Springs said. “The only thing I’m really focused on is finishing the season strong and showing what I can do and making the adjustments that are necessary at this level.”

The Rangers pushed Springs toward the bullpen last season after he went 1-8 with a 4.60 ERA in 17 starts/90 innings at High A Down East. He didn’t allow a run in 22 1/3 innings as a reliever.

He struck out 36 batters and walked only five out of the bullpen, and opponents hit only .173 against him.

Springs struck out 98 and walked 19 in 56 1/3 minor-league innings this season as a reliever.

The Rangers might be onto something.

But the Rangers don’t have many advanced starters in the minors. Jurado, Mendez, Palumbo, Hearn and Hernandez are the next wave, with Adrian Sampson apparently in the group, too.

With the exception of Mendez and possibly Sampson, they could all use some time at Triple A next season.

The Rangers have C.D. Pelham and Alex Claudio as left-handed relievers, and probably could find a few this off-season if they stretch Springs out for spring training.

It’s entirely possible they’re content with Springs where he is, but looking at him as a starter seems like a better idea than The Opener idea did Sunday.

2. The Rangers were on the cusp of a big first inning after Trevor Cahill walked the first three batters of the game. The fourth, Mazara, delivered a run with a sacrifice fly, and the Rangers tried for a double steal as Beltre batted.

Shin-Soo Choo took third easily, and Rougned Odor was caught napping between first and second. He was the second out of the inning, and the threat ended.

The Rangers had scored one in the third on an RBI single by Odor and Beltre plated another with an RBI single, but Odor was an easy second out trying to go first to third. The threat ended.

The A’s had scored two in the fourth when Nick Martini hit a grounder to Odor. He didn’t field it cleanly and then his throw hit first-base umpire Jerry Meals. Two runs scored, and the Rangers were trailing 4-3.

“A tough day on the bases,” Banister said.

Odor was pegged with only one error on the play, but it extended the inning and completed Jurado’s demise.

The error was actually surprising, considering how much better Odor has been defensively this season. The running miscues, though, have continued through his unbridled aggressiveness on the bases.

Odor is still young, only 24, but he played the 658th game of his career Sunday and has more than 2,600 at-bats. Whatever he did to fix his hitting and defense this season needs to continue, and he needs to find a fix for his lapses on the bases.

3. Beltre collected career RBI No. 1,697, which left him three shy of passing Jim Thome for 23rd all time. The hit moved him past Paul Waner for 16th all time (3,153) and two shy of passing George Brett for 15th all time.

That’s the big one.

Once he has his 3,155th career hit, Beltre will become the all-time leader in hits by a third baseman. If No, 3,000 didn’t cement his place in the Hall of Fame, but to have more hits than any other third baseman certainly should.

No foreign-born player has more hits than Beltre, who needs two homers for 30th on the all-time list at 476 and six doubles to be 11th all time at 635.

He said on Saturday that he’s feeling better, and Banister said on Sunday that he plans to give Beltre the chance to get as many of those marks as possible.

“I’m going to give him every opportunity that we have for him to continue to go out and play,” Banister said. “I don’t want to miss any of those moments, and I don’t want him to miss any of those moments. He’s got to be able to play well enough to be able to go out there and play. Right now, he seems to be in a good place.”

Evidence of that came Saturday, when Beltre tried to score from third on a wild pitch despite still being bothered by a strained left hamstring — his third of the season.

“I might have closed my eyes,” Banister said. “That might have been one of the all time oh-[no] moments.”

He didn’t say no. While Rangers Reaction managed to get Beltre saying “butt-hurt” on the web site Saturday, there’s no chance of getting what Banister said.

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