Texas Rangers

Look: New Rangers manager Chris Woodward gets first-hand look at roster candidates

The planning continues as the Texas Rangers build a roster for spring training, which begins next month, but it’s starting to feel like it’s time to play some baseball.

That typically happens this time of year, when the Rangers host their winter mini-camp and awards banquet and fan fest. All those things are happening this week, and the players who aren’t already here will be by Friday.

The same goes for the coaches, most of whom were gathered Tuesday as a large group of major- and minor-league players did their off-season thing at the MLB Urban Youth Academy.

Manager Chris Woodward was among them. He has been in and out of town, traveling from his home in the Phoenix area, since being hired in November to replace Jeff Banister, and has seen the players who live locally.

But he started putting eyes on others who could either make the Opening Day roster or who could be on the Rangers’ roster at some point in 2019. Woodward is also feeling the baseball vibe.

“We pretty much have the core group here,” Woodward said. “It’s a great way for all these younger guys to watch the core group go about their business and the expectations. It’s just a great opportunity for all of us.”

Among those who live locally, only shortstop Elvis Andrus and designated hitter Shin-Soo Choo weren’t at the Tuesday workout. But Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor and Nomar Mazara, among others, were on hand.

They spoke about the improved chemistry and the handle Woodward and his staff seem to have on their plan for players in 2019. Gallo said that meetings on offensive approach are already taking place, and hitters are already making adjustments to new hitting coach Luis Ortiz.

The work will continue in earnest throughout the rest of the winter, spring training and the regular season. And the Rangers’ front office still has work to do.

What does Woodward want to see general manager Jon Daniels picked up for the roster?

“There’s never too much depth on the pitching side,” Woodward said. “Everybody who’s been around the game understands that. The organizations I was with in the past, we had a ton of depth and we went through that depth. You hope injuries don’t happen, but they’re going to happen. If you have quality pitching depth, it can ride you through an entire season.”

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After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.