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Hammel plans to pitch only for big league club

Non-roster invitee: 'Either I make the team or I go home'
@Sullivan_Ranger
March 15, 2019

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitcher Jason Hammel is in camp on a Minor League contract, but has no interest in pitching in Triple-A at this point in his career. “Either I make the team or I go home,” Hammel said after pitching four scoreless innings in the Rangers' 5-2 victory

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitcher Jason Hammel is in camp on a Minor League contract, but has no interest in pitching in Triple-A at this point in his career.

“Either I make the team or I go home,” Hammel said after pitching four scoreless innings in the Rangers' 5-2 victory over the Indians on Friday.

“I certainly won’t go down to Triple-A,” Hammel said. “If it requires me to go home, I know my family is waiting for me. They have been doing it for a long time. First and foremost, I have to think about them. I know I can still get outs, but I understand the business side of it. So I am more than willing to go home and spend time with the family.”

Manager Chris Woodward said Hammel has not communicated that with him, but it may not be necessary. Hammel has allowed one run in 8 2/3 innings on four hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts this spring.

“He has been a big leaguer for a long time,” Woodward said. “I wouldn’t blame him. It would be easy for him to find a job if we let him go based on what we are seeing.”

Hammel has been a starter for most of his career but is competing for a spot in the bullpen, possibly as the team's long reliever. That part is fine with him.

“Anytime you have an opportunity to wear a big league uniform, you take it,” Hammel said. “The way this game is trending, the older guys we feel like we are kind of being pushed out of the game. So as long as I have the opportunity to play, I am going to play hard.”

Tocci sent down

Rangers outfielder Carlos Tocci has had an impressive spring, but not enough to be on the Opening Day roster.

Tocci was one of six players sent down on Friday in the last round of roster moves. Tocci was optioned to Triple-A Nashville along with pitcher C.D. Pelham and third baseman Patrick Wisdom. Infielder Eli White, catcher Tony Sanchez and pitcher Phillips Valdez were also returned to Minor League camp.

Tocci was sent down after going 8-for-28 (.286) with three doubles, two home runs and nine RBIs in 14 games. Tocci has always been considered a premium defensive player and the progress he has made offensively gives the Rangers hope that it was worthwhile keeping an inexperienced player as a Rule 5 pick last season.

“I don’t think he could have had a better spring,” Woodward said. “Especially from where he was at the end of last year to now. He’s turned so many heads in the organization. At this point, it’s about playing time. He’s a priority guy for us down there. We want to make sure he’s getting his at-bats.”

Tocci’s demotion means that Joey Gallo will be the Rangers' backup center fielder behind Delino DeShields.

Romano keeps hopes alive

Jordan Romano pitched two scoreless innings against the Indians on Friday, allowing a hit and a walk with two strikeouts. That’s his second straight scoreless outing after allowing four runs against the Padres on March 7.

“He is looking better and better,” Woodward said. “He’s got conviction behind his pitches. We really challenged him after that and he’s accepted it. He has pitched really well. That was impressive. He got hit pretty hard and he bounced back.”

Romano is a Rule 5 Draft pick, so he has to either make the Opening Day roster or be offered back to the Blue Jays. He may be competing with Hammel for a spot as a long reliever.

Rangers beat

• White is being sent to Triple-A so that he can continue his development as a shortstop. The Rangers feel he can be an above-average defensive outfielder, but still want him to work on playing shortstop.

• Right-hander Connor Sadzeck is still in big league camp but pitched a scoreless inning for Triple-A Nashville in a Minor League game against Omaha on Friday.

• Infielder Matt Davidson pitched a simulated game and then hit a home run in a back-field Minor League game. The Rangers still want to see Davidson pitch in a game, but it may be in a Minor League contest rather than the Cactus League.

Up next

Right-hander Shelby Miller will make his fourth start of the spring when he pitches against the Reds at 3:05 p.m. CT on Saturday in Surprise. Opponents are 8-for-23 with four walks off Miller in his first three starts. Right-handed relievers Zach McAllister and Jesse Chavez are also scheduled to pitch.

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.