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Hammel informs Rangers of decision to retire

Righty made team, but put priority on family; Gomez earns 'pen job
@Sullivan_Ranger
March 23, 2019

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers' pitching depth took another hit when veteran right-hander Jason Hammel informed the club he has decided to retire. Hammel was told on Friday that he would make the team as a long reliever. But the 13-year veteran, who was in camp on a Minor League

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers' pitching depth took another hit when veteran right-hander Jason Hammel informed the club he has decided to retire.

Hammel was told on Friday that he would make the team as a long reliever. But the 13-year veteran, who was in camp on a Minor League contract, decided to walk away from the game after talking it over with his family.

“He just felt spending time with them was his priority,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “We certainly respect that. His ability to pitch in different roles, give us some length in the bullpen, potential for spot starts, we felt good with him in that spot. We’ll just have to adjust.”

The Rangers did add one pitcher to what will likely be an eight-man bullpen as veteran right-hander Jeanmar Gómez was told on Saturday that he will make the team. Gomez has a 1.74 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in nine games this spring.

“Just felt he could help us,” Daniels said. “Versatile guy, great makeup, strike thrower. Made an adjustment last year and carried it over this spring, a little more swing and miss than earlier his career. He gives us more options, he can go multiple innings, early setup-type role. Good influence. Just like the fit on the team.”

The Rangers have six locked into the bullpen: Gomez, closer Jose Leclerc, right-handers Shawn Kelley, Chris Martin and Jesse Chavez and left-hander Jeffrey Springs. There are four candidates for the final two spots: right-handers Zach McAllister, Connor Sadzeck and Adrian Sampson and left-hander Kyle Bird.

Sampson becomes a more serious candidate now that Hammel has retired. The Rangers were leaning toward having him pitch every fifth day to provide starting depth at Triple-A, but now he will get strong consideration to be the long reliever.

Bird also gets strong consideration as the second left-hander because Springs has the ability to pitch 2-3 innings and could be used in long/middle relief.

Hammel’s decision to retire comes two days after the Rangers decided that right-hander Jordan Romano, the Rule 5 Draft pick, would not make the team. Romano is currently going through waivers. If he clears, the Rangers will have to offer him back to the Blue Jays. Daniels said the Rangers probably would still have let Romano go even if they had known in advance that Hammel was retiring.

“I don’t think it would have affected it,” Daniels said. “Jason was really apologetic on the timing. He didn’t say anything about Romano, but he was cognizant of the timing and was emotional saying it. No hard feelings.”

Hammel is the third pitcher lost to the Rangers this spring. Right-hander Luke Farrell (broken jaw) and left-hander Yohander Mendez (sprained elbow ligament) will both start the season on the injured list.

Daniels said the Rangers will pay attention to other teams’ final roster moves to see if any pitcher becomes available that could provide depth at Triple-A.

Santana to start in Triple-A

Utility player Danny Santana has been told he will not be on the Opening Day roster. He will be assigned to Triple-A Nashville, where he will be used at both shortstop and center field.

The Rangers like Santana’s versatility, but he lost out to Logan Forsythe as the Rangers' utility infielder. Outfielder Zack Granite remains in camp and could be on the Opening Day roster if Joey Gallo is still not recovered from a strained groin muscle.

Rangers beat

• Mike Minor closed out Spring Training by allowing four runs over five innings in a 7-3 loss to the Brewers on Saturday. He gave up seven hits, walked one and struck out seven in his final outing before Thursday’s Opening Day start against the Cubs.

• Joey Gallo was 2-for-3 with a home run and a single for Class A Advanced Down East in a Minor League game. The only out was a fly ball to the wall. Gallo, recovering from a strained right groin muscle, is scheduled to play against the Indians on Monday in Arlington, with the goal of being ready for Opening Day.

• Catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa turned 24 on Saturday.

Up next

Right-hander Lance Lynn pitches against the Royals at 2:05 p.m. CT on Sunday in Surprise, Ariz. Lynn is making his fourth and final start of the spring. The Rangers also have an exhibition game vs. the Triple-A Sounds in Nashville that starts at 1:05 p.m. CT on Sunday. Ariel Jurado is scheduled to start that game for the Rangers.

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.