The Rangers added more outfield depth with Josh Hamilton expected to miss at least the first month of the season.
Seven-year veteran Drew Stubbs, 31, who finished 2015 with the Rangers and was on the postseason roster, signed a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training. He’s expected to be in camp Saturday morning for workouts.
He’s a plus defender who can play all three outfield positions.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said the club is still open to finding another outfielder to not only help cover left field, but work as a reserve for all three spots.
The club has looked at bringing back former Ranger David Murphy but Daniels declined to elaborate. Candidates to fill left field include Ryan Rua, last year’s Opening Day starter, Justin Ruggiano, James Jones and Patrick Kivlehan.
Younger prospects in big league camp could impress enough during spring training to become an option, too, including Nomar Mazara and Lewis Brinson. Joey Gallo played 19 games in left in 2015 but the club is keeping him at third base this spring, at least for now.
Stubbs, who attended Texas, went 2 for 21 in 27 games the final five weeks of 2015 with the Rangers.
“He’s a plus defender who can play all three outfield positions,” Daniels said. “He can really run, and we think there is more in the bat than we saw last year. We’ll see where it goes.”
Yu Darvish’s comeback program continued Friday morning with a 25-pitch session off a half-mound for the third time this week.
He’s expected to throw off a full-sized mound either Sunday or Monday for the first time since Tommy John surgery a year ago.
Pitching coach Doug Brocail said Darvish will be held to 15 pitches and that the decision whether to throw Sunday or Monday is up to the right-hander.
If he’s comfortable maintaining the every-other-day pace, which he’s been on since Monday, he’ll throw Sunday. His catcher for the regular mound session will crouch in front of the plate to limit the stress during his return to a regular mound.
“I don’t ever want him to take a mound where he has anything in the back of his mind, like I’m a little tight, I don’t feel as well,” Brocail said. “For me, if that happens, I want the complete day off, I don’t want him to touch a ball — go do your stuff, get out of here, clear your mind, show up the next day.”
Darvish showed some fatigue during his 25-pitch session, Brocail said. He’s increased by five pitches with his first three sessions.
“We want that fatigue, we want that recovery to see how he bounces back,” he said. “The way that we’ve stretched this thing out and have him throwing every other day, 25 is a lot of pitches for a guy.”
So far, so good, Brocail said.
“He’s in a good place,” he said. “This is about him getting stronger and letting the ball go freely instead of having to worry if the ball’s down and trying to place the ball. I’m not worried about location.”
Right-hander Keone Kela missed Friday’s workout with the flu.