Now the countdown clock is getting real. The first workout for pitchers and catchers is one month away, February 19.
Barring any sort of news happening before that—like a free agent signing or a trade or an injury or aliens abducting Elvis Andrus—there will be few surprises in Surprise.
Eleven position players and twelve pitchers are a lock. (See below.)
Spring training is going to be about filling two slots on the twenty-five-man roster.
Even though there won’t be much drama, there are some fascinating story lines heading into spring.
The biggest one being, what is Jurickson Profar? Or, more specifically, what can the Rangers get for Jurickson Profar? More than anything else, spring will be about assessing Profar’s value after losing two seasons to injury.He was everyone’s all-world prospect for so long. Now he is fighting for his baseball life.
Every time he throws the ball, the Rangers front office will be holding its breath. That’s why I think they will trade him the first chance they get. Let that shoulder re-tear itself on somebody else’s watch.
I hope I am wrong, though. I hope Profar regains the skills he displayed a few years ago to the point he makes Elvis Andrus the highest paid utility player in history. That is wishful thinking, I know. But, hey, a Rangers fan can dream, right?
Another storyline worth following will be A. J. Griffin. If he is able to get close to what he was before he, too, lost the last two seasons to injury, then he will be the biggest steal of the winter. This is a guy ticketed for top-of-the-rotation stardom with Oakland. You can check out his stats from Baseball-Reference.com here.
Of course, there is a better chance Griffin will fizzle out like damp fireworks. Tommy Hansen, Rich Harden, El Duque, Joe Saunders, Hector Noesi, Ross Detwiler, Jerome Williams, and Travis Blackley, and so many other Jon Daniels scrap heap signings come to mind. Unfortunately.
What about Matt Bush? Does he have anything to offer other than sadness?
What about the next wave of minor league that is supposed to be the next wave of major league stars? Nomar Mazara, Lewis Brinson, Joey Gallo. How close are they? How for real are they?
Rua and Kivlehan will be trying to make a name for themselves, too, hoping to be the guy called up every time Josh Hamilton tries to stretch a single into a double and slides headfirst into the DL.
And everyone’s favorite whipping boy, Tanner Scheppers, will be desperately hoping Rangers nation comes down with a collective case of amnesia.
Since so much of what happens in the spring means nothing—like Michael Choice batting .400 few springs ago—it’s difficult to get a true read on anything real in spring training.
But it’s baseball. Players will be wearing Rangers uniforms. And it’s just one month away.
25-MAN ROSTER LOCKS:
11 Position Players:
C: Chirinos, Gimenez
IF: Moreland, Odor, Andrus, Beltre
OF: Hamilton, DeShields, Choo, Ruggiano
SP: Hamels, Perez, Holland, Lewis, Gonzalez/Martinez
RP: Barnette, Diekman, Dyson, Kela, Tolleson, Wilhemsen, Gonzalez/Martinez (or some other long reliever)