Matt Davidson gives pitching a try for Rangers
Logan Forsythe appears to moved closer to making the Texas Rangers’ Opening Day roster after the club informed two-way player Matt Davidson that he will begin the season at Triple A Nashville.
Davidson was one of five players told that he won’t make the team to start the 2019 season, along with catchers Jose Trevino and Jett Bandy and infielders Nolan Fontana and Chase d’Arnaud.
Trevino was optioned to Nashville while the other four are awaiting their expected assignment to the Rangers’ new Triple A affiliate. All five will remain with the team through the end of the exhibition schedule.
Forsythe, Danny Santana and Willie Calhoun are vying for a bench spot alongside outfielder Hunter Pence and catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa. There might be one bench spot available or two depending on whether the Rangers carry seven or eight relievers.
“We haven’t made that decision final, whether it will be three or four on the bench or seven or eight in the ‘pen,” said general manager Jon Daniels, who said the Rangers are weighing several factors in determining how many relievers will make the season.
“Performance here in camp. Our ability to have opportunities for these guys to play, and with that the opportunities we want to give guys that are a little more regulars. Health. How we want to use the pitching staff and different guys to protect. We do have a lot of off days in April, which helps in that regard.”
Forsythe has shown that he can be a capable shortstop in addition to his ability to play third base and second base. He is expected to play first base this week.
Santana can also play shortstop, but he has spent much of the spring as a center fielder. That could be handy as the Rangers monitor the strained right groin of Joey Gallo, who was expected to back up center fielder Delino DeShields.
If the Rangers don’t want to push Gallo into center field, Santana’s roster chances improve. Gallo, though, has hit in the cage the past two days, says that he could play now and insists that he will be on the Opening Day roster.
Calhoun could make the team if the Rangers go with seven relievers and only one extra infielder.
The health of the pitching staff, though, could ultimately take precedent.
Three of the five members in the starting rotation underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017 and either haven’t pitched in the majors since or have only a handful of games. The Rangers might want an extra reliever to ensure that the bullpen isn’t overworked if any of the trio needs to be limited early on.
“Generally speaking, I lean more toward protecting the pitching staff unless we have clear roles for guys on the bench,” Daniels said. “Maybe one of the factors the other way would be the health of our position players, and that will probably come down to the end.”
Davidson, who pitched an inning Monday in a minor-league intrasquad game and believes he can be an asset off the mound, will continue to throw bullpen sessions in Nashville but will focus on honing the swing changes he made in the off-season.