Texas Rangers

Initial guess at Rangers’ Opening Day roster. Calhoun’s fate rates as biggest question

The choices were pretty thin Saturday morning at Texas Rangers camp before the clubhouse opened an hour later than normal.

Sleep in or work out? Sleeping in won. In an upset, by the way.

Work from the rental house or show up early to the Surprise Recreation Campus? Winner: early

Literally bang my head against the wall or figuratively bang my head against the wall? The latter – trying to project the Rangers’ Opening Day roster – prevailed.

Actually, it’s not a futile exercise, even 26 days shy of the regular season. The mind has to work some while considering all factors that will contribute to the 25 players the Rangers run out March 28 against the Chicago Cubs.

Players out of options are always a big factor. The 40-man roster comes into play. Rule 5 players are a special case. Early-season days off matter. The sit-him-on-the-bench vs. allow-him-to-play-in-the-minors debate is real. The need to care for pitches coming off of injuries is, too.

So, all that comes into play in the first run at this roster guesswork. Enjoy.

Starting rotation (5): LHP Mike Minor, RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Edinson Volquez, LHP Drew Smyly, RHP Shelby Miller.

No surprises here. Minor is certain to be the Opening Day starter assuming he navigates spring training with no health issues. The order of the rotation is subject to change. The Rangers could do themselves a favor by not lining up the three guys coming off Tommy John surgery back to back to back. Giving Volquez the second game and Lynn the third could help alleviate the need for a long man in the bullpen.

Bullpen (7): RHPs Jose Leclerc (closer), Shawn Kelley, Zach McAllister, Jesse Chavez, Chris Martin and Connor Sadzeck, and LHP Jeffrey Springs.

Sadzeck has pitched well early on and can’t be optioned to the minors. He also throws 100 mph, which makes it unlikely that he would clear waivers. Springs can log multiple innings, which is a significant trait considering the health concerns the Rangers will have with Volquez, Smyly and Miller. Jordan Romano, the Rule 5er who must make the team and be on the active roster all season, would be tough to keep for 162 games unless the Rangers carry an eighth reliever or he overwhelmingly earns a spot.

Catcher (2): Jeff Mathis, Isiah Kiner-Falefa

This has been set in stone since November. Don’t be surprised to see defensive whiz Jose Trevino during the season.

Infield (6): 1B Ronald Guzman, 2B Rougned Odor, 3B Asdrubal Cabrera, SS Elvis Andrus, 1B-3B Patrick Wisdom, UTL Logan Forsythe.

The Tuesday signing of Forsythe to a minor-league deal indicated a shift in the Rangers’ thinking regarding Cabrera. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Forsythe will be on the team, especially if he can’t cut it at shortstop, but a true utility infielder looks more likely. Danny Santana’s ability to play the outfield and shortstop could help him make the club. Patrick Wisdom makes it over Matt Davidson because he is on the 40-man roster. Davidson’s ability to provide mop-up innings on the mound might come into play, and so, too, might the Rangers’ desire to have Wisdom, who made his MLB debut last season, play every day at Triple A Nashville.

Outfield/DH (5): Delino DeShields, Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Hunter Pence, Shin-Soo Choo

Yes, no Willie Calhoun, who has grabbed control of his career and his life with improved fitness and nutrition. He is thought to be such a key piece going forward that the Rangers might want him playing regularly at Nashville rather than sitting on the big-league bench. It would be shocking at this point for Pence to not make the team, even with the Rangers needing to find a 40-man spot for him and one other (Forsythe, according to this projection). Romano would be one, and injured outfielder Scott Heineman, a candidate for the 60-day DL, would be another.

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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.
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