SURPRISE, AZ (105.3 THE FAN) - If the first inning of the Rangers' first Spring Training game of the year is any indication of what's to come, than I will preemptively allow Howard Beale express how I feel from the movie Network when he said, "I'm as mad as hell and i'm not going to take this anymore."
Thankfully for the Rangers and fans alike, a six-run top of the first inning which included the Royals hitting three consecutive homers is no indication of anything at all. Colby Lewis, who surrendered the outburst over 36 pitches, wasn't worried about his Spring debut, "I felt great. I threw a lot of strikes...I felt like the only pitch was the flat [change up] to Hosmer]."
Veterans like Colby Lewis use Spring Training games as their science lab, experimenting with pitches and plans, simply trying to gauge their progress, development, and preparation for the season. Sometimes you can tell when an athlete is fighting to spout confidence knowing it is way better than pouting, but Lewis didn't seem bothered at all by the results. And, frankly, nor should you.
Over the next month, Rangers fodder will largely consist of over-analysis trying to forecast the season based on Cactus League actions. Some analysis might prove to be prophetic, but most of the time its just the most exciting way to shape the Rangers conversation because it is all we have. Today wasn't great, but feel free to adopt Colby Lewis' attitude. We all should feel great. Baseball is back.
Yovani Gallardo made his Rangers Cactus League debut. The numbers suggest it went very poorly, but the eyes would have told you otherwise. He wasn't hit hard at all and was victimized by some poor defense behind him. His afternoon ended with four runs against his name on six hits. He spoke about his first crack on the mound.
Jobs are on the line this Spring as they always are for some across baseball, but for the Rangers, more jobs and more candidates are in contention than normal. No need to overreact and name starters and roster spots just yet, but let's look at how some of the guys performed today:
Name: Delino DeShields Jr.
Job: Backup outfielder
Performance: It was a mixed bag for DeShields. The Rangers want him to offer strong defense and speed on the bases. If he can do those things, he makes the team. He misplayed one ball hit his way and caught another after taking a turned-around route. That part wasn't pretty, but Surprise Stadium isn't an easy place for an outfielder and it was DeShields' first crack at it. Where he did shine was with the wheels. He hit a potential double play ball to the middle infield and beat it out with a "Holy smokes!" demonstration up the line. It's that dynamic speed that excites the organization.
Name: Ryan Ludwick
Job: Left field/bat
Performance: He went 1-for-3 but that one was a home run to left-center field. I don't think he's going to be an everyday player but he'll make the team if he can continue to swing the stick. I don't recall much defensively that stood out, but the Rangers aren't considering him for his glove work.
Name: Ryan Rua
Job: Left field
Performance: It started out ugly for Rua who misplayed what should have been a routine fly out to left. That corner spot is challenging at Globe Life Park so the Rangers need the jack-of-several-trades defensive player to improve in the outfield, the newest position in his bag of tricks. The misplay might be more about the sun than defensive ability, but it definitely left a bad taste. He went 0-for-2 at the dish with a full-count strikeout, but he did work the count that at-bat. No reason to pass judgment just yet on where he stands in the race because it was just one game and I still think he is the favorite. When you put it all in perspective, he wasn't really bad but I am curious to monitor his defensive work.
Name: Alex Claudio
Job: Left-handed reliever
Performance: The soft-tossing southpaw pithed a scoreless inning with two strikeouts, including one of Eric Hosmer, who one at-bat prior hit a monster home run. Claudio retired both left-handed batters he faced and righties went 1-for-3 against him. Overall, he looked pretty good.
Name: Alex "Chi Chi" Gonzalez
Job: Fifth starter
Performance: In 1.2 innings. Gonzalez gave up two runs on two hits, but he did strike out the side in the seventh inning. Some wonder if he will strike out enough hitters to have top-of-the-rotation upside so that's a nice response. He's still an outsider to crack the rotation out of camp.
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