Found February 04, 2013 on Fox Sports Southwest:
Picimg_mlb_apr_22_60d1
Texas Rangers pitchers and catchers report to Surprise, Ariz., next Tuesday and the return of baseball can't come soon enough for Texas fans. It's been an interesting offseason since the Rangers were bounced in the American League wild-card game by Baltimore last year. Josh Hamilton is gone. Michael Young too. So is Mike Napoli. A.J. Pierzynksi is now a Ranger. And Joakim Soria. And then there's the Nelson Cruz saga. Here's a look at five key storylines for Texas as they prepare for spring training. 1. The Nelson Cruz PED allegations: Offseason issues are nothing new for the Rangers, who have dealt with a Josh Hamilton relapse, Ron Washington's cocaine admission and Michael Young trade demands in recent springs. But the Cruz story is different because it will have an impact on the way the Rangers field their team this year. Cruz has denied the allegations through his lawyers. The Rangers have to hope that he's telling the truth and that he'll not be punished. If he is, the Rangers have to find a way to plug a gap in right field this year for what could be 50 games at some point this season. Spring will give them an opportunity to find his replacement, whether it's going to be Mike Olt, Mitch Moreland or someone else. The club also has to deal with the off-the-field impact. Hopefully Cruz and the Rangers will address the situation quickly the way they have their other spring issues in the past. They don't need this to linger. 2. The hunt for the No. 5 starter: As long as the Texas starters stay healthy this spring, the only real rotation battle is for the No. 5 starter. The good news for Texas is they have plenty of candidates. The bad news is that there's no clear-cut favorite to be the placeholder until Colby Lewis is healthy. Lefty Martin Perez, right-hander Justin Grimm and lefty Robbie Ross could be the top three candidates. Perez winning the spot would make things the easiest, but he lost all three of his September starts last year. Grimm may need more time in the minors and even though Ross will be stretched out this spring, he may be too valuable in the bullpen to make the move back to starter. Veterans Kyle McClellan and Randy Wells could also figure in the mix. First-time invitees Cody Buckel and Nick Tepesch will also get a look. While they would figure to be longshots, the same could have been said about Ross making the roster out of spring last year. That turned out pretty well for Texas. 3. Finding a centerfielder: The Rangers really have two choices here and both will likely make the roster in Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin. If one of the two can step forward and win the job outright, it would make things easier. The Rangers could also platoon the right-handed hitting Gentry and the left-handed hitting Martin. Gentry hit .304 last year in 240 at-bats but may not be an everyday player. New hitting coach Dave Magadan said Martin has a limitless ceiling as far as hitting. That's what the Rangers want to hear after investing 15.5 million in him. But he's had just 54 at-bats with Texas over two years. He had a huge season in Round Rock, batting .359 with an OPS of 1.033. He still needs work defensively, where Gentry has the edge because he has better instincts. Julio Borbon and Engel Beltre will also be in camp but all eyes with be on Gentry and Martin. 4. Pitchers on the mend: The Rangers will have lots of talent on rehab programs when camp opens. Colby Lewis, Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria will be behind the healthy starters in camp but all should be able to contribute sometime this season. Soria, who is coming off his second Tommy John surgery, figures to be the first to help as he could be bullpen help as early as May. Lewis hopes to ease the concerns about a No. 5 starters this summer as he's rehabbing from flexor tendon surgery. All has gone well in his rehab so far but the Rangers won't know where he is until he's on a mound this spring. Feliz, who is also coming off Tommy John, will be the last of the pitching trio who should be able to help. He played catch for the first time last month. A Texas bullpen late in the summer that includes both Soria and Feliz would be a huge boost to the Rangers. 5. Rebuilding the bullpen: Speaking of the bullpen, the Rangers are in a major rebuilding phase after losing Mike Adams and Koji Uehara to free agency. The Rangers are set at closer and will be fine with a set-up man once Soria is healthy. The club could use Ross in that role if he doesn't make the rotation. Tanner Scheppers and Michael Kirkman also figures in the mix at the back end along with Josh Lindblom, who the Rangers picked up in the Michael Young trade. Free agent signee Jason Frasor could also help. And so could Kyle McClellan, who spent most of his time as a reliever with St. Louis. The materials are there for Texas to reconstruct the bullpen. The Rangers have to use the spring to find the correct way to construct it.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Rangers expect Cruz in RF but have options

The Texas Rangers are heading to Arizona next week with expectations that outfielder Nelson Cruz will be with the team. Cruz's name surfaced in a report on performance enhancing drugs in a Miami clinic. The report said Cruz bought 4,000 in PEDs. Last week Cruz denied the allegations through his lawyers. Texas general manager Jon Daniels sees Cruz as his right fielder but...

Rangers going to spring expecting Cruz in right

The Texas Rangers will go to spring training with the expectation that Nelson Cruz will be their right fielder. Cruz was among several players named in a story last week by an alternative newspaper in Miami, alleging they used banned performance-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball is investigating and has asked the Miami News Times for records it obtained for the story. Rangers...

Rangers GM speaks as spring training looms

A week from today the Texas Rangers pitchers and catchers will report to camp in Surprise. The Rangers are hoping the spring leads to a fourth-consecutive trip to the postseason but they'll have their work cut out for them after an uneven offseason. Texas general manager Jon Daniels talked with beat writers for nearly 40 minutes Tuesday about the state of the Rangers as they...

Rangers scouting Masahiro Tanaka out of Japan

Forgetting about the money associated with the deal, the Texas Rangers have had some pretty good luck recently with Japanese pitchers.  They landed Yu Darvish who put together a very nice rookie campaign for them.  Now, the same scout that helped bring Darvish to the Rangers will be scouting another Japanese player" Masahiro Tanaka. The right-handed pitcher will not...

2006 Cy Young winner Brandon Webb retires

Brandon Webb, who won the NL Cy Young Award in 2006 and was one of the top pitchers in baseball before being beset by arm injuries, is retiring. The right-hander's agents, Mike Montana and Jonathan Maurer of Millennium Sports Management, confirmed Monday night that Webb was calling it a career. ''He has worked so hard over the past three years to come back but his shoulder...

Rangers' future bright with top prospects

The Texas Rangers had what some may consider a rough offseason with the departure of slugger Josh Hamilton and fan-favorite Mike Napoli while failing to sign any big free agent names like former American League Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke. Now the club also awaits news on a possible suspension for outfielder Nelson Cruz being linked to a Miami clinic that allegedly supplied...

Scouting Rangers Prospect #49: Coty Woods

The Texas Rangers selected sidearming right-hander Coty Woods in this offseason's Rule 5 Draft, and the reliever will get a chance to crack the Rangers' bullpen in spring training. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the 24-year-old prospect with an in-depth scouting report.

Rangers expect Pudge to help in camp

Former catcher Ivan Rodriguez, one of the best Texas Rangers of all time, may have a presence in spring training with the Rangers this year. Rodriguez announced his retirement from baseball last year in Arlington after 21 years in the majors, 13 of which were with the Rangers. "That is something that we're working on," Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said...

Top-rated QB recruit to sign with Texas A&M

With Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner, eligible to play another three seasons at Texas A&M, it's hard to imagine another top-rated quarterback recruit signing on with the Aggies. Southlake Carroll's Kenny Hill heard all the same doubts, and still plans to sign with Texas A&M on Wednesday, the first day high school athletes can sign national letters of intent...

Former D-backs ace Webb officially retires

FOXSports.com Former Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb, the 2006 National League Cy Young Award winner, is officially retiring from baseball, according to his agents. Webb, 33, announced his retirement Monday in a statement released by agents Jonathan Maurer and Mike Montana. "With retirement, Brandon looks forward to focusing on more time with his family," the statement...

Brandon Webb calls it a career

Former Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Brandon Webb is retiring at age 33, according to his agents. Webb hasn't pitched in the majors since starting on Opening Day 2009 for the Diamondbacks. He won the NL Cy Young award with Arizona in 2006, and was the runner-up in both 2007 (won by Jake Peavy) and 2008 (won by Tim Lincecum), making the NL All-Star team in all three of...

Orioles Rumors: Club not expected to sign Arthur Rhodes or Fernando Tatis

After having Arthur Rhodes and Fernando Tatis work out for them, it seemed the Baltimore Orioles were going to sign two veterans who had been out of the game for some time.  In Rhodes' case, he did not pitch at all in 2012, and Tatis hasn't played since 2010.  However, the Orioles may be backing away from both players. According to Roch Kubatko of MASN, the Orioles...

Ryan Braun’s Name Listed In Records From The Same Clinic That Exposed Arod

  Add this as the newest chapter is the still unfolding story of the Biogenesis clinic which has allegedly been a PED supplier to baseball’s biggest names. Ryan Braun is now the latest major name exposed. Yahoo!  reported today that Ryan Braun’s name has been listed on documents from the now infamous Biogenesis clinic in south Florida. The baseball world has been put on a...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.