Texas Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers had the twitch of a pitcher who is itching to get back on the mound.
Scheppers, who along with Shawn Tolleson and Keone Kela helped kick off the Rangers’ winter caravan Friday evening, was all but kicking up dirt like a bull, preparing to charge.
“I’d rather be pretty silent about my mission,” he said at Academy Sports and Outdoors. “I’ll let my work on the field talk for itself. I go into every year saying I feel the best I’ve ever felt. I could sit here and toot that horn all day, but at the end of the day I just want to go out there and play.”
People think I don’t play baseball anymore.
Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers
After consecutive injury-marred seasons in which he combined to pitch 61 1/3 innings after throwing 76 2/3 innings in 2013, Scheppers has seen the Rangers build up a bullpen around him that has him feeling like a forgotten man.
“People think I don’t play baseball anymore,” he said, only half joking. “From every experience you go through you want to learn something from it, so I definitely broke down the year and analyzed everything I possibly could in order to make myself better. I just want to improve and take that as an experience and not a norm and go from there.”
He understands the competition this spring, which will include Kela, Jake Diekman, Sam Dyson and newcomer Tom Wilhelmsen, among others, will provide an ample test.
Hoping to he can regain his 2013 stuff that led to an 1.88 ERA, Scheppers appreciates the faith the club gave him with his contract tender this winter.
He’d like to stay a Ranger.
“We have plenty of talented guys and a lot of competition. I think every spring every team has that,” he said. “It’s something I’m looking forward to, looking forward to a new beginning. Sometimes starting somewhere new is a benefit for them. But I really like this organization. I’ve been nothing but happy with all the opportunities that I’ve been given and I want to be here.”
Big fish tale
Tolleson has been throwing since Dec. 1, including long toss. He won’t start throwing off the mound until the end of January.
Tolleson took a month off to relax after the season, which included a deep-sea fishing trip off Amelia Island in Florida.
He hooked an 8-foot bull shark but struggled for 30 minutes to reel him in. At first, Tolleson thought he hooked a piece of junk.
“I thought I was just bad at it because I could not get it in,” he said, before finally pulling it aboard. “It was chomping. I kept a safe distance.”
Carroll High workouts
Kela is one of several Rangers teammates working out at Southlake Carroll High School during the off-season.
Kela said his right elbow, which caused some discomfort late in the season, feels fine.
I never understood baseball to the fullest extent until I had an opportunity to play postseason baseball.
Rangers reliever Keone Kela
Kela threw 60 1/3 innings (plus three in the postseason) in his first major league season. He said he learned a lot about himself and what it takes to handle the grind of a 162-game season.
“It showed the capabilities of my body to myself and also opened up new doors that I could exceed that,” he said. “Now that I know I can pitch 60 [innings], the big objective is can I pitch 60-plus? Can I move to 70, 75 and move deeper into the postseason?”
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760