Much of the conversation in the less-than packed Rangers clubhouse Thursday afternoon (remember, a big chunk of the team is in San Antonio, along with manager Jeff Banister) centered around the nature of players having their kids in the clubhouse. Of course, the only reason this happened was because we in the media peppered multiple players and Banister on the topic. For the Rangers’ views and thoughts on the subject, check out the story, which includes Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder opining on the topic.
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But there were other pressing issues after the Rangers first off day in weeks. Here’s the Surprise Five from Thursday:
1. Happy anniversary — The one-year anniversary of Yu Darvish’s Tommy John surgery was celebrated with a 25-pitch bullpen session Thursday morning. There was no cake or party favors, just the fifth session for the right-hander off a regular mound throwing to the regular distance. Manager Jeff Banister brushed off Darvish complaining about his location, calling him a “supremely talented” perfectionist.
2. Odor’s day — Although the Rangers have expressed no deep concerns about the health of Rougned Odor, his 10-day shelving with a tight right oblique muscle (think: the muscles on the side of your gut), the fact that he’s been seen fit to play in the minor league game is a good sign. He was pinch-run for after both hits but Odor said that was only to allow him to get more at-bats. He jockeyed between two fields, one with a Triple A game and one with a Double A game. He expects to be back in the regular lineup soon, saying he feels “100 percent.”
3. Tolleson’s night — Closer Shawn Tolleson, who has been slowed by lower back spasms for much of spring training, made his debut Thursday night against the Brewers. He allowed one hit in an inning of work. “I felt really good,” he said. “I was excited to get out there and pitch in that kind of environment for the first time in a while.”
Tolleson said he threw several cutters, a pitch he plans to include this season. Mostly he stuck with fastballs and changeups. It was a tough day for Tolleson, who watched his alma mater Baylor get upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament earlier in the day.
4. Center of attention — The outfield education of Ian Desmond continued against the Brewer Thursday night. The former All-Star shortstop, who has been playing left field since signing with the Rangers in late February, played his first game in center field. Desmond overran a ball on the ground for an error in the third inning but made a long, running catch in the left-center gap in the sixth.
“Given the circumstances, I felt like it was all right,” said Desmond, who didn’t know he was playing center until arriving at the ballpark Thursday afternoon. “It wasn’t, by any means, great. It’s elementary stuff but when you’ve been doing something for the last 12 years basically at a totally different world [shortstop] that’s why I’m out here and want to get as many reps as I can,” he said.
5. Tepesch’s time is ticking — Starter Nick Tepesch needs a strong start stat. The right-hander struggled again Thursday night, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings against the Brewers. In his past three outings, he’s allowed a combined eight earned runs on 15 hits and five walks in 7 1/3 innings. His previous start out of the bullpen was better (a solo homer allowed in three innings) but as a starter Thursday he took a step back.