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Inbox: Biggest positives of Rangers camp?

March 28, 2017

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Wrapping up Spring Training by answering some of the major questions surrounding the Rangers...1. What were the biggest positives in camp? Obviously it starts with Delino DeShields, who was the camp MVP, although Ryan Rua was right behind. Shin-Soo Choo had a good camp and that bodes

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Wrapping up Spring Training by answering some of the major questions surrounding the Rangers...
1. What were the biggest positives in camp?
Obviously it starts with Delino DeShields, who was the camp MVP, although Ryan Rua was right behind. Shin-Soo Choo had a good camp and that bodes well for his upcoming season. From the pitching side, A.J. Griffin seized a spot in the rotation, Cole Hamels, Martin Perez and Yu Darvish appear to be headed to the top of their game and Mike Hauschild was a terrific development as a Rule 5 Draft pick.

But on the whole, the bullpen may have been the biggest positive. Usually there are question marks going into the season, but the Rangers look like they could have an especially strong bullpen.
2. What were the negatives?
The Rangers were hoping Andrew Cashner would be ready to roll, but the soreness in his biceps set him back to mid-to-late April. Chi Chi Gonzalez suffering a partially torn UCL was a setback for a pitcher who appeared ready to figure things out. Other than some minor injuries and the disruption by players gone to the World Baseball Classic, it was a relatively smooth camp.
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3. Will Josh Hamilton ever play again after another knee surgery?
Who knows? He is currently rehabbing in Houston. It will be a step-by-step process. The Rangers aren't counting on him. The next step for him will be to begin baseball activities.
4. Who is the pivotal player for the Rangers?
Carlos Gomez. The Rangers have invested much in the fact that his terrific six-week turnaround at the end of last season was not an aberration. The jammed shoulder at the end of camp is bad timing.

5. When will Tyson Ross be ready to pitch in the Majors?
He has done extremely well to this point. It could be as early as the first week of May. The Rangers are excited.
6. What will happen with Jurickson Profar?
He makes the team as a utility player. He is a switch-hitter but his left-handed bat is way ahead of the right side. The Rangers will be challenged to get him playing time if DeShields is really ready to take off. It's a shame Profar can't be an everyday middle infielder for somebody.

7. Who is the most intriguing player in camp?
Knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa. He may not make the team out of camp, but the Rangers are quite intrigued by his growing mastery as a knuckleballer.
8. Now that Elvis Andrus is older and more mature, is he less vocal and carefree around the clubhouse and batting cage?
Fat chance.

9. Breakout year?
All eyes are on Nomar Mazara to see how good he can be.
10. Will they win the AL West?
The lineup is strong 1-9 with Adrian Beltre, Rougned Odor, Mike Napoli and Jonathan Lucroy at the heart. The bullpen looks terrific. The defense needs to be better, especially up the middle. It always comes back to the rotation but Hamels, Perez and Darvish are an enviable starting point.
The Rangers aren't getting much preseason love, but that's standard operating procedure.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.