The Rangers have a decision to make on re-signing Jonathan Lucroy, although I could argue the money it would take could go toward more pressing needs, like starting pitching. Given that Jose Trevino is the future catcher, how far away is he from being able to take the job next year, with Robinson Chirinos to back up and mentor him?
-- Andrew B., McKinney, Texas
You're exactly right. Lucroy is going to be a tough sign, because this is his chance to get a big contract, the Rangers are going to need money for starting pitching and they already have sizable commitments to Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Cole Hamels and Shin-Soo Choo.
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Trevino is just getting started at Double-A Frisco, so it is hard to ascertain if he'll be ready for the big leagues. There is a good chance Chirinos will be the No. 1 catcher if Lucroy isn't back, but don't forget about Brett Nicholas, who is off to a great start at Triple-A Round Rock. It would be nice if Texas took a leap of faith and gave Nicholas a real shot in the big leagues.
I'm extremely frustrated over the last couple of season with walks issued by the Rangers staff. Does Doug Brocail have anything to do with the approach the pitchers take? I don't remember ever having this problem with Mike Maddux as pitching coach, and Brocail and Jeff Banister don't seem concerned enough to mention it. Truth is, it has cost us several games.
-- Clay S., Burleson, Texas
Yes, Banister and Brocail talk about it. The Rangers have been stressing it and pounding it into their pitchers' heads from the beginning of Spring Training. Texas' biggest risk is harping on it too much to the point it gets into pitchers' heads and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Every pitcher is trying to throw strikes. It's like a basketball coach screaming at a player to make his free throws. What do you think he's trying to do? Miss the shot and pad his rebound stats?
What is the deal with A.J. Griffin wearing clear glasses? Does he need them to see better or are they to protect his eyes or is it just for the look?
-- Michael D., Cibolo, Texas
Griffin said he wears the glasses because he has trouble seeing the catcher's signs. It would not be good for Lucroy to call for a changeup and get a fastball instead.
What is the current status on Tyson Ross? If he comes back healthy sometime in mid-June and pitches well, does this impact the Rangers' decision to buy or sell at the non-waiver Trade Deadline?
-- Marcus A., Dallas
Ross is slated to pitch on Tuesday for Triple-A Round Rock, and he will likely have at least one more start in the Minors before he is considered a Major League option. Starting pitching is often a target for the Rangers before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but they may be able to avoid a farm system-draining deal this year with Ross and Hamels coming back before that time.
Will Beltre be as good as he was last season coming back from injury?
-- Nathan S., Roanoke, Texas
He hasn't forgotten how to hit, but he will need time to get his timing back at the plate. Defense may be another issue, but he has defied the aging process to this point
Sabermetrics is a big item with Rangers. Are there not drills, etc., to improve batting responses? Hand-eye coordination?
-- Bob V., Arlington
Sabermetrics are evaluation tools, not teaching methods. The Rangers employ a wide variety of teaching tools, training techniques and up-to-date equipment for their players to use. Hamels has something that looks like a Spanish Inquisition torture rack to help with his back. Texas takes the training methods of the players very seriously.
If Joey Gallo and Mike Napoli are both hitting at or below .200 when Beltre comes back, will Gallo get a shot at first base?
-- Doug H., Orange, Texas
I don't think the Rangers will be quick to pull the plug on Napoli anytime soon. Even with the low batting average, he is on pace for 33 home runs and 81 RBIs. That's close to what Napoli has averaged every 162 games for his career.
Why do catchers get a new ball every time the pitcher drowns the ball in the dirt? There can't be anything wrong with the ball.
-- James Q., Malakoff, Texas
The cleaner the ball, the easier it is for the pitcher to command it.