The Morning Nine from Surprise
Nine things to ponder as the Cactus League heats up
1. Center field is the Rangers toughest call. We know that Ron Washington thinks Josh Hamilton is their best centerfielder. We know that he would prefer Hamilton to play left to reduce wear-and-tear. So that leaves Craig Gentry and Julio Borbon as the leading candidates to start in center. Gentry is probably the leader out of the starting gate but Leonys Martin is going to get a lot of playing time this spring.
2. There are still those who believe the Rangers best starting nine includes Hamilton in center and David Murphy in left.
3. Another source of intrigue is whether the Rangers will keep both Gentry or Borbon. If they don’t, it opens up a spot for either Brad Hawpe or Conor Jackson. If the Rangers feel Martin is close, they could trade one of the other two centerfielders by the end of Spring Training.
4. The media coverage of Yu Darvish is not a circus and anybody who tweets that is wrong. The members of the media here from Japan to cover Darvish are professional, courteous and dedicated. They are also fun to have around. There are a few excesses, like the number of photos taken at simple press conferences. But it is time to stop referring to the media coverage of Darvish as being a “circus.”
5. Darvish starts get massive amounts of attention but starts by Neftali Feliz ultimately could be more significant for the Rangers this spring.
6. The left-handed relief job is Michael Kirkman’s to lose and Alberto Gonzalez is the leading in-house candidate to be the utility infielder. But they have to go out and win the job.
7. We know that Mike Napoli is going to catch more than last year. We still don’t know how much more but it may not be much. The Rangers seem to believe that Napoli’s high offensive production last year was due to him playing multiple positions and not being overused at catcher. Yorvit Torrealba could still lead the Rangers in games caught.
8. Six spots in the Rangers bullpen appear to be set with right-handers Joe Nathan, Mike Adams, Mark Lowe, Alexi Ogando, Koji Uehara and Scott Feldman. That may prove illusory as the spring progresses.
9. Most of the Spring Training speculation about roster spots, rotations, playing time and lineup configurations will go flying out the window once the season starts and injuries start cropping up.
That’s it for now. Rangers-Royals today, Sky Harbor Airport tomorrow. Got to go back to Texas and walk that stupid dog. Plus some weeds need to be pulled