Welcome to the Elysian Fields Bar & Grill on Adrian Beltre’s 36th birthday
— According to MLB Network research, the Rangers are the youngest team in the Major Leagues. The average age of their Opening Day roster is 27 years, 333 days. The average age for a Major League player is 29 years and 54 days. The Rangers are the only team under 28.
— General manager Jon Daniels wasn’t surprised by the news, saying, “It’s a mix. It’s a talented group but an inexperienced group. Some of our young guys have experience. Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus have experience, they were in All-Star Games and World Series and their in their mid-20’s. That’s a function of some guys getting up here at an early age.”
— Monday marked the eighth time in Major League history that a team was held to one or fewer hits in the season opener. The last time was in 1991 when Expos pitcher Dennis Martinez and two relievers held the Pirates to one hit in a 7-0 victory.
— The Rangers predecessors had it happen to them as well. The 1964 Washington Senators were one-hit by the Angels in 4-0 loss. The Senators only hit was a double by pitcher Claude Osteen off of Angels starter Ken McBride.
— Indians pitcher Bob Feller threw the only Opening Day no-hitter in 1940 against the White Sox. They didn’t count pitches back then but Feller walked five and struck out eight over 33 batters. Maybe 130 pitches is a decent guess. He still went 27-11 with a 2.61 ERA in 37 starts, six relief appearances and 320 innings that season.
— How many pitches did Bob Feller throw in 1946? He pitched 371 innings, walked 153 and struck out 348. They didn’t start officially counting pitches until 1988 and the highest recorded since then was 4,280 by Roger Clemens in 1996. If Feller averaged a conservative 15 pitches per inning, he blows by Clemens with 5,565 pitches. He averaged more than 15 pitches per innings.
— Of course Feller had just missed 31/2 years to serve in the Navy aboard the U.S.S. Alabama during the World War II so he was well-rested.
— Just for the heck of it: John Thomson.
— The Rangers had not been shut out on Opening Day since 1972, a 1-0 loss to the Angels in the first game in franchise history. It had been the second longest streak in the Major Leagues. The Mets have scored in 52 straight openers. The Rays have never been shut out on Opening Day since beginning play in 1998.
— Right-hander Phil Klein gave up a three-run home run to left-handed swinging Stephen Vogt in the seventh inning on Monday night. The Rangers trailed 4-0 at the time and manager Jeff Banister was asked if that was a situation where he would have used a left-handed reliever. Said Banister, “I’m not concerned with something I don’t have. We’re working on making better what we do have.”
— Following up on yesterday, the Rangers 15 players born outside the 50 United States are the most on any Major League team. They represent eight different countries.
— Rangers traveling secretary Josh Shelton also celebrated his birthday on Tuesday.
— Rangers special assistant Dave Oliver is 64. He was in Spring Training and looking good after some difficult times.
— Hall of Fame second baseman Bobby Doerr turns 97 today. He was William F. Sullivan’s favorite player. Bob Feller was his favorite pitcher.
— The Athletics have not scored a run in their last 25 innings on Opening Day. Their last run came in 2012 and they were in Japan. The Rangers have not been shut out on Opening Day since 1972
— Manager Jeff Banister said starter Yovani Gallardo will be operating on a 100-105 pitch count for the opener.
— Prince Fielder on his Spring Training baserunning: “I actually take pride in running the bases. People fall asleep on me. I like to hustle, it’s fun for me. Now that I’ve got that feeling back, I’m not playing around. I can play with reckless abandon but being careful with it.”
— Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor hits left-handed. So? He is the first Opening Day second baseman in Rangers history who was purely a left-handed hitter. All others were either right-handed or switch-hitters.
— The last Rangers Opening Day shortstop who hit left-handed? Jeff Huson in 1991. He is the only one. Huson, Jim Mason and Ramon Vazquez are the only left-handed hitters to play more than four games at shortstop for the Rangers.
— Athletics manager Bob Melvin on the Rangers: “They have a good team. You look at their lineup, certainly the first four or five guys get your attention, and then guys like Rua and Smolinski, Odor, they’re guys that really made an impact. So their lineup’s going to be good. Pitching’s a little different than we’ve seen in the past, so it’s kind of tough to forecast how that’s going to play out, but the guys that you know, you know they’re going to have a formidable lineup.”
— Roman Mendez on waiting to hear if he was going to make the team: “Of course I was nervous. It goes through everybody’s minds. But I was prepared to do whatever the team needed me to do.”
— Just for the heck of it: Dean Palmer
— Pitchers Keone Kela and Logan Verrett, and outfielder Delino DeShields have never played in the Major Leagues. Last time the Rangers had three players on the Opening Day roster with no big league time was 1986 with Bobby Witt, Mitch Williams and Pete Incaviglia. Only other time was in 1974 with Mike Cubbage, Jim Sundberg and Mike Hargrove.
— There are 230 players born outside the 50 states out of the 868 players on the Opening Day roster, disabled list or restricted list. That’s 26.5 percent.
— The Rangers are way ahead of the curve. They have 15 of 33 players (including eight on the DL) who were born outside the 50 states. That is 45.4 percent.
— Thomas Diamond turns 32 today. Bert Blyleven turns 64
We are off and running for the 28th season doing this.
Here’s how the Rangers bullpen went this spring.
Keone Kela was lights out and made the team.
Jon Edwards was almost lights out and inexplicably sent to the Minors.
There are no left-handers in the bullpen. Every left-hander auditioned was quickly dismissed. In less than a week, Sam Freeman went from being a lock to make the team to being designated for assignment.
Instead of a left-hander, the Rangers have two long relievers in Logan Verrett and Anthony Bass. Phil Klein is back as well.
Shawn Tolleson is healthy but Tanner Scheppers is not, leaving a void for the Rangers in the eighth inning. The bridge to the tepid closer is incomplete.
Then there is the guy that nobody is talking about: Roman Mendez.
He is on the team, which is a good thing.
Spring Training numbers:
Kela: 9.2 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 11 SO
Mendez: 10 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 4 walks, 11 SO
So what do we know about Mendez?
He was one of three players acquired from the Red Sox in 2010 for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He was still in low Class A when the Rangers obtained him. He was also a starting pitcher.
He spent 2011 at low Class A Hickory, making 20 starts and six relief appearances. He was 9-1 with a 3.31 ERA and made the South Atlantic League All-Star game. In 117 innings, he struck out 130 batters.
In 2012 he was 4-6 with a 5.14 ERA in 12 starts and six relief appearances at Class A Myrtle Beach, while missing six weeks with a strained elbow. The six relief appearances came at the end. He had a 1.50 ERA in those six games and struck out 15 in 12 innings. That earned him a late-season promotion to Double A Frisco and he was 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in five appearances.
The Rangers liked him enough that they put him on the 40-man roster. He came to Spring Training at age 22 didn’t make the team. He pitched at Double A Frisco, had a 1.82 ERA in 16 games and then was lost for the season when he had season-ending surgery at the end of May for a stress fracture in the right elbow.
Mendez was at Triple A Round Rock last season. He was given at least two days off every outing because of concerns about the elbow. He had a 4.02 ERA in 25 appearances and opponents hit .302 off him.
In the Rangers search for able-bodied pitching, Mendez was called up to the big leagues on July 7. He made 30 appearances for them the rest of the way. He was one of 102 American League relievers who made at least 30 relief appearances.
Of that group:
Mendez had 10th lowest opponents batting average at .174. His 2.18 ERA was the 21st lowest.
His 4.64 walks per nine innings were the 12th highest. He had 22 strikeouts and 17 walks. His 1.29 strikeouts per walks was the fourth worst of the 102 relievers.
Mendez averaged 94.8 miles per hour on his fastball. Of the 40 pitchers used by the Rangers last season, that was the fourth highest. Only Aaron Poreda (95.4), Matt West (95.0) and Edwards (94.8) averaged higher. Poreda and West are no longer in the organization.
Edwards was inexplicably sent to the Minors at the end of Spring Training.
Mendez also has a split-finger fastball and a slider as his off-speed pitches. Both were effective last year when thrown for strikes.
So what do we know about Mendez?
Good pickup by the Rangers.
Still some concerns about his health.
Should be a guy more people are talking about.
Could be the guy that makes or breaks the Rangers bullpen early in the season until Scheppers is ready.
Unless the closer is still tepid and then nothing else will really matter.
Saturday morning at the Ballpark…
Nothing ready to be announced…. still waiting on final composition of the bullpen..
All that is known is…
Keone Kela has won a spot in the bullpen
Delino DeShields has been told he is on the team as a reserve outfielder
Kyuji Fujikawa, Tanner Scheppers and Lisalverto Bonilla all expect to start the season on the disabled list.
The stone gets rolled back tomorrow.
As of Tuesday morning
Ryan Rua and Jake Smolinski have been told they are on the team. No official word yet but it appears Rua has won the starting left field job and Smolinski will be the fourth outfielder
It appears all but assured that the Rangers will keep Rule 5 draft pick Delino DeShields. He has already taking ground balls at second base in addition to his regular work in the outfield.
Tanner Scheppers has been sent back to Arlington to have his right ankle examined by Dr. Keith Meister. Still no word yet about the MRI and if Scheppers will start the season on the disabled list.
Jamey Wright has been released and Shawn Tolleson is pitching in a B game
The Rangers have told outfielder Ryan Ludwick that he will not make the team. Ludwick has left the team and will take a few days to decide his future.
“All-world guy,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “I hope he catches a big league job with another team. I think he can help somebody. As we look at it today, we thought other options in camp fit the roster better.”
The Rangers have five players vying for three spots: left field, corner outfield, last spot on the bench. The candidates are right-handed swinging Ryan Rua and Jake Smolinski, left-handed hitting Nate Schierholz and Carlos Peguero, and Rule 5 pick Delino DeShields.
Rangers pitcher Shawn Tolleson’s MRI showed “no material change” from an MRI done in 2013. The Rangers believe that is good news. Tolleson has been sidelined with tightness in his right forearm and the Rangers are hopeful it is nothing more than that. Tolleson will be examined by Dr. Keith Meister in person on Friday and the Rangers will devise a plan based off that examination.