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The Texas Rangers strive for a goal that got away

SURPRISE, AZ — These are the reigning World Champion Texas Rangers who re-convened for their first full squad workout on Monday in Surprise. But they are not the reigning American League West Champion Texas Rangers.

Nathan Eovaldi
Nathan Eovaldi throwing during practice on the first official day of spring training in Surprise, Arizona. Bill Jones/CBS News Texas

That title slipped away to the Houston Astros on the last day of the regular season last year. It was the goal the Rangers had last year, and it's their goal as they start spring training this year. "Your goal is to win the division," Rangers Manager Bruce Bochy said on Monday.

The Rangers didn't win the division, but they did win a Wild Card spot, and that was the reason they had to become road warriors, setting a postseason record with 11 road wins, en route to their first World Series title.

"I just love how the club handled it. Part of being a really good club, a great club, is being resilient," Bochy said. "The club to me was the best club in baseball when you look at what we went through. Between the injuries and the tough losses, they just kept bouncing back."

Unseating the Astros as AL West Champs is the first goal this team has in 2024. Alex Bregman's "I guess we'll never know" celebration speech in the Houston clubhouse when they won the division last year served as motivation for Corey Seager and the Rangers in the postseason. It was a punch line the usually stoic Seager used in his ever so brief but effective victory parade speech in November.

And, now, the Rangers go into this season not thinking the target is on their back.

"Some teams may look at us as a target," Bochy said, "but I'm hoping that we look at other teams as a target. That's going to be our mindset."

Corey Seager
Corey Seager chats with the media in Surprise, Arizona. Bill Jones/CBS News Texas

Notes: Seager spoke to the media for the first time since undergoing hernia surgery last month. He says he has only been cleared to do some cardio on a stationary bike and some incline walking. He has no idea when he will be cleared to start swinging a bat, and thus, he also has no idea if he will be ready for Opening Day on March 28. 

He does admit to being "antsy" to get things going. He just has to be a good patient and be patient right now ... Injured 3rd baseman Josh Jung says he has not been given a timetable on his return from a strained right calf sustained on Friday. Likewise, since this is just the start of spring training, the plan is to take things slow and easy for now. 

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