Smyly tosses 2 scoreless innings against A's

Hammel makes spring debut; Granite joins Rangers camp

March 5th, 2019

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Starting pitchers often avoid facing division opponents in Spring Training, preferring instead to get their innings done in a "B" game on the backfields.

 declined that on Tuesday. He made his start in a 4-1 loss to the A's at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, even though there is a good chance he could face the American League West rivals in April during the regular season.

“My situation is a little different,” Smyly said. “Not much game experience lately. I want to face everybody’s best in front of fans and the excitement of the stadium. I need that. I don’t want to go to the backfields. I want to be in the stadium.”

Smyly, who missed the last two seasons while recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, retired six of seven hitters over two scoreless innings, walking one and striking out three. He was behind on hitters in the first inning, but corrected that in the second.

“That’s not how you want to pitch,” Smyly said. “I just needed to slow down and hit my spots. The ball was coming out much better in the second inning.”

Hammel makes first appearance

 made his first appearance in a Cactus League game on Tuesday, following Smyly with two scoreless innings. He was the last Rangers pitcher in camp to appear in a Cactus League game.

Hammel didn’t sign until Feb. 1, so he is a little behind other pitchers, but manager Chris Woodward said he has time to compete for a job.

“I know exactly what I need to do with my arm and body to get ready so I don’t feel behind at all,” Hammel said.

Hammel has made 298 career Major League starts, the most of any pitcher in camp, and he will be stretched out as a starter. But Woodward said Hammel is competing for a spot in the bullpen, unless something happens to one of the five starters.

“As of right now, we have our five starters,” Woodward said. “It’s not fair to them to say he’s competing against them. If one of them went down, he would be one of the guys competing for that.”

Granite joins club

Outfielder Zack Granite joined the Rangers on Tuesday, two days after being acquired from the Twins in exchange for Minor League pitcher Xavier Moore.

Granite, a left-handed hitter, is similar to Carlos Tocci and Ben Revere, a premium defensive player with excellent speed. Granite had a career-high 56 stolen bases at Double-A Chattanooga in 2016. He played 40 games for the Twins in 2017, hitting .237/.321/.290. He was limited last season at Triple-A Rochester with a torn rotator cuff in his (non-throwing) right shoulder.

Granite is primarily a center fielder, but he has also played left field in the Minor Leagues.

“He plays center really well,” Woodward said. “Pretty elite defender, provides depth in all three spots.”

Davidson throws bullpen

Infielder Matt Davidson threw a bullpen session on Tuesday as the Rangers carefully build him up as a pitcher in Spring Training. Woodward said the plan is for Davidson to pitch in a few Cactus League games before the Rangers break camp.

The Rangers are going to look at Davidson as a pitcher this spring, but the top priority is to see if he can make the Opening Day roster as a backup corner infielder. If he does, the Rangers will likely use him as a pitcher only in unusual circumstances.

“Got to be careful with him,” Woodward said. “I don’t know if he’s spinning the ball yet. But it’s basically getting him in that feel for pitching. But we have to be mindful because it’s not fair for him to try and make the team as a corner infielder and worry about pitching at the same time."

Rangers beat

• Special assistants Colby Lewis and Michael Young are in camp this week as guest instructors, as well as former Rangers reliever Mike Adams and catcher Gerald Laird.

• The Rangers will have a camp game on Wednesday with left-handers Joe Palumbo, Miguel Del Pozo, Zac Curtis and C.D. Pelham and right-hander Richelson Pena scheduled to pitch.

• Ronald Guzman was 1-for-3 on Tuesday and has reached safely in seven straight Cactus League games.

Up next

Right-hander Shelby Miller pitches against the Giants at 2:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday in Surprise. Miller allowed two runs over one inning in his first start against the White Sox last Wednesday. Closer Jose Leclerc is also scheduled to pitch in the game, which can be heard on a audio webcast.