The offensive fireworks for the Texas Rangers have been going on for most of the first week of the spring schedule and some of the main fuses to ignite come April are finally getting in on the act. Mitch Moreland and Ian Desmond each homered for the first time this spring to help power the Rangers to a 11-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday afternoon at Goodyear Ballpark.
.368Rangers MLB-leading team batting average through eight spring games. The next closest team is the Dodgers at .332.
Drew Stubbs also had his first homer, a two-run shot to left field in the seventh.
The Rangers have collected at least 10 hits in seven of their first eight games, including a spring-high 18 on Wednesday.
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“That’s what we’re here for, trying to get that timing, get that feel, get back in the flow of the game,” said Moreland, who is 3 of 10 with two doubles, and five RBI this spring. “So far, it’s been great. Seems like we’ve been ready to go as a group from Day 1.”
Desmond, who signed with the Rangers a few days before the spring opener, hasn’t looked too far behind at the plate. He’s 4 for 10 in four games but still looking for his first defensive chance at his new position in left field.
You have to stay focused, stay ready and that’s what I’m working on, just being in on every pitch.
Rangers left-fielder Ian Desmond
“Spring training doesn’t have a whole lot of relevance for me,” Desmond said. “I’ve had great spring trainings and started off slow. I’ve had terrible spring trainings and started off fast.”
Manager Jeff Banister credits a hitting philosophy instilled during the off-season and reinforced this spring, to urge hitters to hit the ball where it’s pitched.
“It’s a conscious decision by our hitters to stay off the pull side, stay on the ball better, keep the ball in the middle of the field, and you see the barrel show up a lot more,” Banister said. “That was the game plan through the off-season and coming into spring training. Maintaining that approach. It’s still way early, and it’s not just the core guys but the next wave of guys doing it as well.”
Chi Chi throws 3
Right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez had his sinker working well Wednesday through three scoreless innings against the Reds. He allowed three singles and two walks but induced six groundball outs, including two double plays and two comebackers to the mound.
“First inning I was throwing a lot more four-seamers and I was starting them at [catcher Bobby Wilson’s] glove and they were ending up just off,” said Gonzalez, who hasn’t allowed a run in his first five innings this spring. “I was still happy because they weren’t missing by a lot. After that I went to the sinker and it was moving a lot, thankfully, and even though I was behind in the count some times that movement helped me out.”
Fielder’s sleep study
Rangers designated hitter Prince Fielder is flying back to Texas to undergo a sleep study after reporting trouble sleeping.
He missed Wednesday’s game and will also miss games Thursday and Friday.
Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said the club chose to send him back for an evaluation.
“It sounds like he’s having disjointed sleeping. We figure at this time of year instead of asking him to gut it out why not actually have him evaluated,” Levine said.
Second baseman Rougned Odor was still limited Wednesday with a tight right oblique. Odor said he expected to practice Thursday but Levine said the club will hold him back until he’s cleared by the trainers.
The Rangers’ free-throw shooting tournament is through the first round with the final matchups completed Wednesday morning. The second round, with 32 winners in the winner’s bracket and 27 losers in the loser’s bracket, begins Friday. Wednesday’s results: Yu Darvish d. Francisco Mendoza; Bobby Wilson d. Tony Barnette; Chi Chi Gonzalez d. Brandon Boyd (home clubhouse manager); Andrew Faulkner d. Luke Jackson; A.J. Griffin d. Nick Tepesch; Kellin Degland d. Jose Leclerc.