Cole Hamels’ tour of the backfields and minor leagues continued Sunday afternoon. The left-hander made his third to last start of the spring, this time against the Triple A Omaha Storm Chasers.
He allowed three earned runs on five hits, including two homers in 5 1/3 innings (70 pitches). He struck out nine and walked none. His final two starts of the spring are scheduled for Friday and March 30.
His lone appearance in a major league exhibition this spring was a quick one. He went 1 1/3 innings against the Giants on March 5. He left after allowing a home run and two walks.
I do like to know I can get up six or seven times during a game. You want to hit some sort of fatigue here in spring training so you know what to work on.
Rangers Cole Hamels
He did not say whether one of this remaining spring starts would be in a major league game.
For Hamels, that doesn’t matter. It’s about getting to a point where he’s ready to throw 100 pitches in a start.
“That’s kind of where you want to be, especially when you’re able to build up your pitch count. I think that’s when you’re able to find out if each pitch is working the way you want it to work,” Hamels said. “I do like to know I can get up six or seven times during a game.”
Throwing against minor leaguers takes game-planning out of the equation for Hamels, which wouldn’t be the case, typically, against major league hitters, at least not in the regular season.
“I’m able to get your work in and still take it serious,” he said. “I can repeat my pitches and make sure I execute on everything and really get locked in as best I can.”
Outfielder Josh Hamilton, who has been out with a sore left knee since the start of camp, says he’s pain free and expects to be back on the field later this week. He’ll take it slowly, however. He’s still not projected to be available for the first month of the season.
“I really want to give it a good effort to getting it right or as close to right as possible so we’re not back here three weeks after I start,” Hamilton said.
The pain is gone now, Hamilton said, but he’s been here before. He’s hoping a methodical return will prevent another major flare-up.
“I’ve had it before where I had no pain and then wake up one morning with pain from doing too much, too fast and back to where I am,” he said. “It’s the hardest thing to do, to pace yourself when you’re feeling good.”
The last time Pedro Ciriaco was batting .500 he was a September call-up for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010. The veteran free-agent signee is trying to win a utility infielder job with the Rangers and it shows. He leads the majors with a .500 batting average (18 for 36) with four stolen bases. He was 1 for 2 Sunday against the Angels.
.500 Rangers infielder Pedro Circiaco’s batting average this spring, which leads the majors. He’s 18 of 36 after a collecting a single Sunday.
“He’s come in with an idea of trying to make a ballclub,” said manager Jeff Banister, who was a Pirates coach when Ciriaco made his debut. “He’s very versatile and can do a lot of different things. When you talk about guys with different skill sets that can help you win he’s certainly proven he can do that so far this spring.”
Ciriaco and Hanser Alberto are the top contenders to earn the utility infielder job.
First time at first
Justin Ruggiano played his first game at first base Saturday in San Antonio. Although he made a throwing error to second (similar to Mitch Moreland’s in Game 5 of the ALDS last October), he was pleased with the experience.
“It’s just one of those plays I have to get used to,” he said. “I’m getting a little more comfortable working around the bag, and that’s good because it’s something that takes getting used to.”
Knowing where to go for cut-off throws and relays is becoming easier, he said. He didn’t get any ground balls but was able to work on stretching to make catches. The Rangers want his right-handed bat as an option late in games.
Outfielder Nomar Mazara left Sunday’s game with a bruised right big toe after fouling a ball off his foot. X-rays were negative and he’s listed as day-to- day.