The Morning Nine from Surprise…The Slash Play

We’re off and running on the birthday of George Washington, Don Pardo, Jeri Ryan and Drew Barrymore.

1. Remember when Colby Lewis bunted into a double play in the second inning of Game 6 of the World Series? Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine does and that is why he has his pitchers working on the slash play in the batting cages during Spring Training.

“The thought was that I felt the American League lost the world championship [last year] because they didn’t have a slash play,” Valentine said according to MLB.Com’s Ian Browne who covers the Red Sox.

A slash play is when the batter shows bunt and then pulls his bat back and swings away. Manager Ron Washington would have preferred Lewis do the slash and swing away in that situation.

“And when there’s men on first and second in Game 6 [of the World Series] and the Cardinals put the wheel play on and they were standing in the batter’s box and the bunt went foul — if that was a slash, they call off the wheel play, they move one guy over, it becomes second and third and the Rangers are the World Champions,” Valentine said.

2. Washington said there is one big difference between Yu Darvish and Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. Washington said Darvish can get hitters out throwing the ball in the strike zone while Matsuzaka relies on hitters chasing pitches.

“(Darvish) can power a baseball,” Washington said. “He can throw a fastball up or down, he’s got a couple of breaking balls, a hard slider and a changeup. He’s got more weapons than Daisuke. With Daisuke, they stopped swinging at pitches out of the strike zone. You do that with this guy, you could be walking back to the bench.

“He is a Japanese pitcher with a power arm. Most Japanese pitchers reliy on deception. He looks like he can power the baseball.”

3. If you are going to the Rangers workouts on Thursday, be advised that the entrance for fans to the complex is now on the east side off of Bullard Ave. There is free parking located across the street on Bullard. Fans used to enter on the west side off of Parkview but had to drive to the other side to gain entrance to Surprise Stadium off of Bullard. Now it’s one-stop parking for both.

4. Interesting that Darren Oliver, who is represented by former Ranger Jeff Frye, signed a $4.5 million deal with the Blue Jays. That was on Jan. 9. On Feb. 1, the Blue Jays signed Francisco Cordero for one year at $4.5 million. Which means that it is either good to be represented by Frye or to be one of the few quality left-handed relievers on the free agent market. Wonder if the Rangers would rather have Koji Uehara at $4 million or Oliver at $4.5 million right about now.

5. If you see former Rangers coach Don Wakamatsu today, wish him a happy 49th birthday.

6. Jack Graney was a hot-shot rookie pitcher for the Cleveland Indians in 1908. Actually they were called the Naps because of Hall of Fame player-manager Nap Lajoie. The Indians had the 22-year-old left-hander throw batting practice and first up was Lajoie. Graney hit him in the head with a pitch and this was back before they wore batting helmets. Lajoie was knocked out. Graney was later summoned to the manager’s hotel suite and tried to apologize but Lajoie wasn’t interested in hearing it. Instead Graney was sent to Triple A Portland. He later played 13 years in the Majors but it was as an outfielder.

7. Washington said he’ll meet with the pitchers on Thursday but will only stress the importance of staying healthy and not trying to make the club on the first day. The big speech will be saved for the first full-squad workout.

8. Early work on Tuesday: Craig Gentry working on his bunting with first base coach Gary Pettis. The Rangers had 19 bunt hits last year, tied for ninth in the American League. Gentry had two of them.

9. The Rangers led the league with 177 infield hits. Their hitters also led the league by reaching base 75 times by error. That includes 12 for Elvis Andrus, most in the league. Andrus was also the only player in the Majors to steal home twice.

2 Comments

Michael Kirkman is the player besides Darvish that I’m most interested in this spring. If he can rebound to his 2010 form then this bullpen should be killer.

What I’m most interested in right now is who we’re going to trade from the pitching staff. I think we’re overstocked by a good ways. Nice to have that problem though.

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