Three guys who are helping their cause so far this spring:
Nick Ciuffo: He’s fighting for the backup catcher role. It’s a crowd that includes Jeff Mathis, Jose Trevino, Blake Swithart, Sam Huff, and Tim Federowicz. Ciuffo is crushing the early returns, batting .556, with a .600 on-base, and an OPS of 1.711, all highs for players with at least ten plate appearances. He could be the real surprise of spring.
Rougned Odor: With his contract, he’s not fighting for a job or even a role. He will be the starting second baseman for the Texas Rangers for the next three seasons. What he’s fighting for, though, is respectability. So far this spring, Odor is crushing the ball, leading the team in RBIs with seven, and hitting .462. He excelled last spring too, so this is more of the same. Let’s just hope we don’t see more of the same once the opening bell rings.
Scott Heineman: He’s fighting to earn the vacant center field job. Hitting .385 with an OPS of 1.038 should put him in the driver’s seat, especially compared to the others who are fighting for the same job. Too bad for Heineman spring stats don’t matter. Minds are usually made up before spring starts. Still, all he can do is keep putting up the numbers to make it hard to ignore.
Three guys who aren’t:
Ronald Guzman: He’s fighting to keep not only his starting position at first but really his roster spot on the team. No matter how brilliant his defense is, eventually he has to start hitting. This spring, while he is fighting Greg Bird, among others, for his job, would be the time to start doing just that. So far, Guzman is in mid-season form, hitting .200 with very little power. He may win it by default though.
Greg Bird: He was brought in to battle Guzman for first. He is battling the rest of the Rangers roster for last. So far in thirteen at-bats, he has yet to record a hit, with four strikeouts.
Nick Solak: They want to turn him into a center fielder. Or maybe a third baseman. Maybe first. He plays second but that position is filled for the next three years. On a team like the 2020 Rangers, where defense is a suggestion, what they really need him to do is hit. fSo far, he’s not doing that. In eighteen at-bats he’s hitting .167 with six strikeouts. He is supposed to be a high-contact guy.
Game time: 2:05