Last Call on Sunday: Catchers, Feldman, Blanco the Great, Kinsler

He said it
“That boy can play shortstop. He can catch the ball.”
Rangers manager Ron Washington on newly-acquired infielder Andres Blanco.

Catching watch: Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a good day on Sunday. Taylor Teagarden had a rough time.

Still looks like these two are going to share the Rangers catching position rather than anybody being declared the No. 1 guy.

Saltalamacchia caught five innings in a Minor League game on Sunday and went 2-for-4 with a double and a single at the plate. He has now caught parts of two games after missing a week because of muscle spasms in his neck.

He will probably catch in a Cactus League game on Monday, a signal that the Rangers believe his injury problems are behind him. Saltalamacchia believes that to be the case.

“I feel good,” Saltalamacchia said. “I’m ready to get in a game. I’m glad it’s behind me. I want it to be behind me. I didn’t want to start the season with a bagging injury. It’s behind me so I can start worrying about other stuff.”

Teagarden has been playing well behind the plate and had five hits in his last 16 at-bats (.313) going into Sunday’s game. But he is 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He has 17 strikeouts in 32 at-bats on the spring.

Saltalamacchia, on the other hand, has played in just 6 Cactus League games and has 15 at-bats.

No clear cut winner yet.

Mr. Opening Day: Scott Feldman is the Rangers Opening Day starter. He pitched like an Opening Day starter on Sunday. To wit:

* He pitched seven scoreless innings.

* He was efficient, throwing just 89 pitches in seven innings. That’s less than 13 pitches per innings.

* He snapped the Rangers eight-game losing streak as they won 5-0 with a pair of scoreless innings from Chris Ray and Frank Francisco.

“He was outstanding,” manager Ron Washington said. “He used everything he had. He was great.”

Feldman ends the spring with a 2.93 ERA. He’ll throw a few times on the side this week and then be the Rangers Opening Day starter on April 5 against the White Sox. Feldman downplayed breaking the eight-game losing streak but not the assignment of being the Opening Day starter.

“That’s really pretty cool,” Feldman said. “This is the first time I’ve been in the Opening Day rotation. To get to start in that game is pretty exciting. My parents are coming from California. It will be pretty cool.”

Kinsler watch: Second baseman Ian Kinsler (sprained right ankle) took batting practice with the rest of his teammates on Sunday. It was another significant step in his attempt to be ready by Opening Day.

“It went good,” Kinsler said. “I couldn’t really load up on my back foot but I felt comfortable enough to work on some things. There’s not anything bothering me to the point I can’t concentrate.”

Kinsler is literally day-by-day as he sees how much he can do and when he might be able to play in a Minor League game. The Rangers open the season on April 5 against the Blue Jays.

Blanco arrives: Infielder Andres Blanco went right into the Rangers lineup on Sunday, one say after being acquired from the Cubs. He started at shortstop and was leading off against the White Sox.

There is a good chance Blanco could be with the Rangers on Opening Day as their utility infielder.

“I just have to come here and play baseball,” Blanco said. “I’ve met a lot of these guys before. I feel comfortable. It’s a different league and a different team. I just got a new opportunity. I just do what I know how to do, play baseball, relax and see what’s going on at the end of Spring Training.”

Blanco showed his defensive prowess in the third inning on Sunday, ranging to his right, fieklding Alexi Ramirez’s grounder and throwing cross his body to first base for the out.

Nippert throws: Dustin Nippert pitched in a Minor League game and threw one scoreless inning. He gave up a single and struck out a batter while throwing 12 pitches.


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