Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels hopes he solved two of the bigger issues facing the club entering the 2015 season.
The acquisitions of starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo and catcher Carlos Corporan shore up two of the biggest areas of need.
One area of concern remains, however, in the bullpen. Daniels, talking to the media after a Q&A with fans at the Rangers Fan Fest on Saturday, said he hopes to add some depth to the bullpen in the coming months
“I’d like to have a little bit more competition [in spring training],” he said. “It may be a situation where our scouts might identify a guy and we make a move in the spring.”
Especially glaring is the need for more left-handed arms in relief. The Rangers are going to camp with three lefties — Robbie Ross Jr., Alex Claudio and Michael Kirkman.
Neal Cotts, a free agent who has pitched 123 2/3 innings combined the past two seasons for the Rangers, is an unlikely option, Daniels said.
“It’s my understanding he’s most likely going to sign somewhere else,” he said. “There aren’t many left-handers out there .... There are still some interesting names out there.”
Expectations for Profar
Jurickson Profar feels great, but the Rangers don’t plan on rushing him this spring.
He’s likely to break camp with Triple A Round Rock, Daniels said.
“I’m not going to put a date on it at this point. It’ll be up to the training staff when he’s cleared for each thing,” he said. “The expectation would be that he’d be ready to break with a club [Triple A] and go from there. That’s our hope.”
Instead of spending some time at second base, he’ll work exclusively at shortstop early in spring training to keep his throwing angles consistent while he returns from a shoulder injury that wiped out his 2014 season.
Profar will throw from 60 feet Monday and have an MRI done Tuesday. He’s received an MRI to check for any issues every three weeks throughout the winter.
“We’re just going to be cautious with him. He’s healthy right now, we just want to keep him that way,” Daniels said.
Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf, who signed a minor-league deal with the Rangers on Friday, could work as a starter or reliever, Daniels said.
The Austin St. Stephen’s grad, who attended Princeton, was 4-1 with a 3.28 ERA in 60 1/3 innings last season with the Washington Nationals. He spent four seasons with the Pirates, including two years when Rangers manager Jeff Banister was a coach there.
“He’s versatile. We saw him down in Austin last week, threw very well. He’s an intelligent guy who’s going to get the most out of his ability,” Daniels said.
Darvish ‘feeling great’
Yu Darvish, whose 2014 season ended in August with a right elbow injury, feels good after a winter of workouts in Texas.
Instead of remaining in Japan, Darvish has been in Texas since November, working out in a gym he built in his house.
“I’m able to train on my own time when I want to,” he said.
Being close has benefited his rehab, Daniels said.
“It’s been a good opportunity for us with him spending the winter here where our guys have been able to work with him on a regular basis,” Daniels said.
“We love it. He’s very confident. Like any of these guys, until they’re out there you’re always going to have some reservations, but that’s the worry wart in me. From all the information we have I’m encouraged. He’s basically been cleared to do just about everything.”
‘Chi Chi’ tease
Top pitching prospect Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez is one of six in-house minor leaguers invited to big league camp.
He’s still considered a year or two away from a call-up to Arlington. So what happens if he excels in spring training?
“I hope he does,” Daniels said. “Sitting here today, my head is to send him to Triple A. I want to be open-minded to it. But he’d have to be well ahead of everybody else.”
It’s not only about his performance on the field, Daniels said, but also how well he and the other top prospects handle themselves in the new environment.
“It’s all the little things the coaching staff is going to need to see that he can do. Not just him, but everybody,” Daniels said. “We’re open-minded to it in unique circumstances, but in a perfect world he gets some more development time, so when he comes up he’s not just ready to get his feet wet, but ready to contribute.”
▪ Colby Lewis said he expects to throw off a mound by next week.
▪ Adam Rosales would be the first option to fill in for Elvis Andrus at shortstop, Daniels said.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760