Texas Rangers

Latest Rangers roster projection for Opening Day finds a place for a two-way player

Hunter Pence has made the Texas Rangers’ Opening Day roster.

Oh, nothing is official yet, but the veteran outfielder has done enough this spring to be at Globe Life Park on March 28 against the Chicago Cubs.

Anything else, save for his left shoulder starting to bug him again, would rate somewhere between “wow” and “utterly shocking” on the surprise scale.

That leaves two bench spots to be determined, or will it be one? And two bullpen spots, or is it three or four up for grabs?

A reading of the tea leaves helped with this Rangers roster projection.

Starting rotation (5)

LHP Mike Minor, RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Edinson Volquez, LHP Drew Smyly, RHP Shelby Miller.

Nothing has changed since the first projection, except that Minor has been named Opening Day starter. The order of the rotation appears to be as it is above, though flopping Volquez and Lynn would break up the three guys coming off Tommy John surgery and help reduce the need for a long man or eighth reliever.

Bullpen (7)

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

This also remains unchanged, but barely. A few reasons: A) Chris Woodward has mentioned that he would like to carry a long man in a perfect world. That would likely be Jason Hammel. But the world isn’t perfect, because B) Woodward would like to have a utility infielder who plays up the middle rather than dump that load on third baseman Asdrubal Cabrera. So, hello, middle infielder. And there was this: In talking about McAllister over the weekend, Woodward said “if he makes the team.” So, there are a lot of reasons to think this will change.

Catcher (2)

Jeff Mathis, Isiah Kiner-Falefa

The only way this changes before Opening Day is an injury or if Mathis joins the Peace Corps.

Infield (6)

1B Ronald Guzman, 2B Rougned Odor, 3B Asdrubal Cabrera, SS Elvis Andrus, 1B-3B Matt Davidson, UTL Danny Santana.

The first changes from the first projection – Davidson replaces Patrick Wisdom as the right-handed-hitting corner outfielder and Santana replaces Logan Forsythe as the utility infielder. This would create a strain on the 40-man roster, though spots can be created by moving Luke Farrell (broken jaw) to the 60-day disabled list and putting Jordan Romano through the motions that are required when a Rule 5 player doesn’t make the team. Davidson jumps into the lead because he has been better and because he could – could – serve as an eighth reliever. Santana makes the jump because he’s having a good spring, he can play center field and he would be a left-handed hitter off the bench.

Outfield/DH (5)

Delino DeShields, Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Hunter Pence, Shin-Soo Choo

Still no Willie Calhoun, though, again, it’s not because he doesn’t deserve a roster spot. He isn’t seeing results at the plate, though he has struck out only twice in 28 at-bats, but his .179 average and .214 slugging percentage aren’t an issue yet. The decision on keeping him or starting him at Triple A Nashville could be whether the Rangers might want him playing regularly at Nashville or having a young future piece sitting on their bench. There’s a movement that the Rangers should trade Shin-Soo Choo to create an opening, but, for those who haven’t heard, Choo is going to be the Rangers’ lead-off hitter and he has full no-trade rights. And he’s owed $42 million the next two seasons. Good luck with that trade.

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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.