Texas Rangers

Here’s the early plan Rangers have created for rotation trio returning from Tommy John

Thursday was considered a success by Texas Rangers pitching coach Julio Rangel because the pitchers who were scheduled to throw their first bullpen sessions of spring training did so before rains soaked the Surprise Recreation Campus.

Half of the 40 pitchers threw, chief among them Mike Minor, Lance Lynn and Edinson Volquez. That’s 60 percent of the projected starting rotation and one of the three coming off Tommy John surgery who didn’t pitch last season.

That would be Volquez, and the other two, Drew Smyly and Shelby Miller will have their first bullpens Friday. As far as Rangel is concerned they are on the same scheduled as the healthy pitchers.

The schedule prior to games is two bullpen sessions and two sessions of live batting practice. Younger pitchers will get a chance to work in Cactus League games ahead of Minor, Lynn, Volquez, Smyly and Miller if any of them wants a little extra time on the side before a game.

But they are on a schedule that will have them ready for the first week of the season. Minor is likely to be the Opening Day starter March 28 against the Chicago Cubs.

“After that second live BP, we’ll figure it out,” Rangel said. “If they feel great, and so far in the off-season their arms have felt great, that’s when we’ll decided when we start plugging them into games and begin the build-up. We may slow play them early on, and as we get closer start getting the innings up. I think we have time for that.”

Volquez said that he overcame some rhythm issues early on in his session to have a productive day. It was his fifth bullpen of the off-season and his 32nd since first climbing on a mound last year to complete his rehab from Tommy John.

So far, so good.

“It feels good, my arm is really good, and I think it was a good one,” Volquez said. “I’m really excited to be here and really excited to throw my first one. I think everything is going my way right now.”

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After 12 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.
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