Texas Rangers

For veteran Jason Hammel, it’s go big (league), or go home (to family)

Jason Hammel happy with four scoreless innings on Friday

Rangers right-hander Jason Hammel held the Indians scoreless on two hits over four innings.
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Rangers right-hander Jason Hammel held the Indians scoreless on two hits over four innings.

For Jason Hammel, it’s go big or go home.

The 13-year major league veteran has no interests in going to the minors if he’s not on the Texas Rangers’ Opening Day roster in two weeks. If he’s let go by Texas, he’ll see if there are any major league offers. If not, he’ll go home to his wife and kids. That’s what they want anyway.

“I certainly won’t go down to Triple-A, but if it requires me to go home I know my family is waiting for me. And they’ve been doing it for a long time,” Hammel said. “First and foremost, I have to think of them. I know I can still get outs, but I understand the business side of it. I’m more than willing to go home and spend some time with the family. It’s out of my hands.”

Hammel, who was in Rangers’ camp on a minor league deal he signed on Feb. 1, has been good this spring, including his first start on Friday when he held the Cleveland Indians scoreless on two hits over four innings at Surprise Stadium. He struck out five and walked one. He’s allowed one run in 8 2/3 innings this spring.

Rangers manager Chris Woodward has seen enough.

“Someone is going to take him. I wouldn’t blame him because it would be pretty easy for him to find a job right now if we let him go,” Woodward said. “Just based on what we’re seeing right now. He’s been a big leaguer for a long time. It’s hard to imagine that he would just accept [going to the minors]. I would expect there to be some resistance there because he’s pitched well enough.”

Woodward is open to a long relief spot in the bullpen if he’s not starting, as long as it’s with the Rangers and not in Nashville.

“Any time you have the opportunity to wear a big league uniform you take it,” he said. “The way this game is trending is the older guys, we feel like we’re getting pushed out of the game. So as long as I have an opportunity to play, I’m going to continue to play hard. It doesn’t matter what role. Obviously, I’m comfortable as a starter. That’s what I’ve always been, but I got a taste of the bullpen last year too and I didn’t mind that either. As long as the arm is still attached I’m good to go.”

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.
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