Texas Rangers

Ian Desmond’s Rangers’ debut includes double but no tests in outfield

Jeff Banister ready to put Ian Desmond in left field

Rangers manager Jeff Banister likes what he has seen so far as Ian Desmond tries to learn left field (video by Jeff Wilson).
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Rangers manager Jeff Banister likes what he has seen so far as Ian Desmond tries to learn left field (video by Jeff Wilson).

Ian Desmond played his first game in the outfield since 2009, but he will have to wait until Sunday for another chance at making a play.

Desmond, who went 1 for 3 in the Texas Rangers’ 3-3 tie against the Dodgers on Friday at Surprise Stadium, left after hitting a double off the wall in left-center field in the sixth.

He barreled the baseball, you can see what he can do with the bat. I think he turned 94 [mph] around pretty good.

Manager Jeff Banister

“Nice to get out there and see how the legs feel, kind of check the oil a little bit,” said Desmond, the former All-Star shortstop for the Washington Nationals who arrived in camp after signing a one-year deal Monday. “Nice to get out there and see the pace of the game out there. Everything is still a little bit quick for me coming from short.”

Manager Jeff Banister said Desmond stayed in an extra inning for the third at-bat. His sharply hit grounder to second base ended the first inning on a 4-6-3 double play. He struck out swinging in the third.

“He barreled the baseball, you can see what he can do with the bat,” Banister said. “I think he turned 94 [mph] around pretty good.”

Desmond said his legs felt a tad heavy after six innings in his Rangers’ debut. Getting used to playing left will take some time, he said.

“Biggest thing is I don’t know my depth, if I’m playing close or deep or whatever,” he said.

Ian Desmond didn't get any balls hit to him during his first game in left field Friday, but still got some useful experience (video by Jeff Wilson).

Darvish throws 25

Right-hander Yu Darvish is starting to let it loose in his bullpen sessions. He threw 25 pitches in his sixth bullpen session Friday morning, his third off a regular-sized mound.

Catcher Chris Gimenez was crouched on the plate instead of behind it in the normal spot.

Pitching coach Doug Brocail said when Darvish resumes with his program, most likely Monday, the catcher will set up in the normal position for Darvish for the first time this spring. He’ll go back down to 15 pitches to ease into throwing the normal length.

He was getting after it today. I told him to stop being a wuss and start throwing a 100 already.

Catcher Chris Gimenez

“Just so he gets a feel for that added distance,” Brocail said. “I think he realizes he’s getting near the end and nobody will be happier than him, trust me. He’s getting antsy.”

Gimenez noticed some added velocity Friday and said Darvish was in the high-80s to 91 mph with his fastballs. He threw 17 fastballs, two changeups and worked on his slider.

“Slider looked pretty crisp,” said Brocail, who had noticed Darvish is talking and smiling more as he gets closer to full speed. “There was no breakdown in his delivery [on changeups]. He’s getting a good release point, good finish on the ball. I’m very happy with the progression that is being made.”

Gimenez noticed a change in Darvish, too. Adding more cutters, Gimenez said, is a good sign because it forces Darvish to put a little more torque on his arm.

“He was getting after it today. I told him it was good to see him kind of let it loose a little bit and start testing it and get a feel for it,” Gimenez said. “I told him to stop being a wuss and start throwing a 100 [mph] already.”

Injury update

Pitchers Shawn Tolleson and Jeremy Guthrie are both day-to-day with back issues.

Tolleson will not take part in baseball activities and was evaluated by team physician Dr. Keith Meister on Friday.

Guthrie, who was scratched from Thursday’s spring game, has back tightness and was evaluated by medical staff. Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said both are doing better than they were Thursday.

Tournament update

The Rangers’ free-throw shooting tournament continued with Joey Gallo, Drew Robinson, Ryan Cordell and Jake Diekman advancing.

Colby Lewis (who may or may not have gone 0 for 5), Robinson Chirinos, Prince Fielder (who lost to Gallo in a one-shot sudden death round) and Steve Johnson all were pushed to the loser’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament.

Briefly

▪ Paul Kruger has been promoted to assistant director of player development. Kruger began with the club as an intern in the Dominican Republic complex in 2009. His previous duties included assistant director of international operations, minor league coordinator and manager of minor league operations, which he held last year.

▪ Outfielder Josh Hamilton (left knee) is still several days away from beginning a throwing program, Levine said.

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST

Right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez needed only 21 pitches Friday to post two scoreless innings in his 2016 Cactus League debut (video by Jeff Wilson).

Manager Jeff Banister says that Elvis Andrus has more focus this spring after a difficult end to his 2015 season (video by Jeff Wilson).

Rangers third baseman took extensive grounders Friday morning before he played his first spring game later in the afternoon (Video by Stefan Stevenson/Star-Telegram).

Roughed Odor, Ian Desmond and Delino DeShields took take batting practice Friday morning in Surprise, Ariz. (Video by Stefan Stevenson/Star-Telegram)

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