ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' Opening Day roster always has a few last-minute surprises, and this year was no different.A week ago, it was unimaginable Keone Kela would not be around for the opener after pitching so well in Spring Training. Tanner Scheppers was less of a surprise, especially after straining
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' Opening Day roster always has a few last-minute surprises, and this year was no different.
A week ago, it was unimaginable Keone Kela would not be around for the opener after pitching so well in Spring Training. Tanner Scheppers was less of a surprise, especially after straining an abdominal muscle at the end of camp.
A revamped bullpen is still the most surprising development to the Rangers' Opening Day roster as they get ready to host the Indians on Monday. Texas will submit its final roster on Sunday but was able to scramble through the chaotic last days of Spring Training and finalize its 25-man squad by the end of business on Saturday.
Starting rotation: The Rangers have their front four set with Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Martin Perez and A.J. Griffin. The fifth starter is unknown but also not needed until April 15. Andrew Cashner is supposed to be the Rangers' fifth man, but it is still uncertain if he will be fully recovered from the biceps issue that set him back. If not, Dillon Gee and Nick Martinez are the possible candidates. Tyson Ross will start on the disabled list but could return in early-to-mid May.
Bullpen: The absence of Scheppers and Kela left openings that were filled by right-hander Jose Leclerc and left-hander Dario Alvarez. Both have power arms but need to harness their command and control. If they do, they will fit in nicely with closer Sam Dyson, right-handers Jeremy Jeffress, Tony Barnette and Matt Bush, and left-hander Alex Claudio.
The biggest surprise in the bullpen was Rule 5 Draft pick Mike Hauschild, at least from where things stood at the beginning of Spring Training. But as spring progressed, it became obvious Hauschild was pitching his way onto the staff.
This is not the bullpen the Rangers expected going into camp, but nobody got their job by default. Alvarez, Leclerc and Hauschild all earned their spots.
Catcher: It was a great spring for the Rangers' catchers. Jonathan Lucroy was part of Team USA winning the World Baseball Classic, and Robinson Chirinos got a contract extension.
Infield: The Rangers were locked in the infield with Mike Napoli at first, Rougned Odor at second, Elvis Andrus at short and Adrian Beltre at third. But Beltre's calf injury and utility infielder Hanser Alberto's shoulder problems landed them on the DL, leaving openings for Joey Gallo and Drew Robinson on the Opening Day roster. Both played well enough this spring to earn their spots.
Outfield: Carlos Gomez is in center, Nomar Mazara is in right and Shin-Soo Choo will get the majority of his at-bats at designated hitter. Delino DeShields and Ryan Rua both walked away with a spot on the Opening Day roster because of their great springs, while Jurickson Profar remains valuable because of his versatility. DeShields should get first crack at left field.
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.