When considering the city where the Texas Rangers spend their springs, what Jason Hammel did Friday night was a perfect fit.
The veteran right-hander, informed Friday morning that he would be on the Rangers’ Opening Day roster, told general manager Jon Daniels that his desire to spend time with his family had surpassed his desired to keep playing baseball.
Club brass made it abundantly clear Saturday morning that they have no hard feelings toward Hammel, but his late-in-the-game decision has put the Rangers in a bit of a hard spot when completing their season-opening roster.
“After discussing it with the family, he felt spending time with them was his priority right now,” Daniels said. “It’s something I certainly respect. Choosing to spend time with family, he’s had a good career, it’s a personal call to do it.
“His ability to pitch in different roles, we felt good with him in that spot. We’ll just have to adjust.”
Hammel, 13-year veteran with 298 career starts, last pitched Thursday and said afterward that he would have been completely at rest if he didn’t make the team and retired.
“I’m at peace with whatever happens,” Hammel said then. “It’s a great game, and I can’t take anything away from that.”
Daniels said that right-hander Jeanmar Gomez will be on the Opening Day roster, and that shortstop/outfielder Danny Santana will open at Triple A Nashville. The Rangers are encouraged by the health of Joey Gallo (strained right groin), but still have Zack Granite in camp in case Gallo is unable to serve as the backup center fielder.
Assuming Gallo is healthy, the Rangers have two bullpen spots open for four pitchers in camp to win – left-hander Kyle Bird and righties Adrian Sampson, Connor Sadzeck and Zach McAllister.
McAllister is on the 40-man roster but has a non-guaranteed big-league contract. Sadzeck is out of options and might not make it through waivers if he doesn’t make the roster.
Sampson could become the front-runner for a spot because he can fill the long role Hammel vacated. The complication in keeping Sampson is further thinning out the starting depth at Nashville.
Bird’s best chance is to be the second lefty to Jeffrey Springs, who would become the long man if Sampson doesn’t make the team.
The Rangers are also aware that multiple relievers either have recently become available or will become available in the next few days. It would not be surprise nor be unprecedented should the Rangers add from that pool.
It’s clear that the Rangers won’t have a final roster this weekend.
“We have some time,” Daniels said. “We’re going to take it.”