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Banister wants pitchers to reduce walks

Rangers set out to improve on one of last season's issues
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There are 93 Major League pitchers who have thrown at least 500 innings in the last 10 years. Doug Fister ranks ninth in that group with 2.08 walks per nine innings in his career and Mike Minor is 36th at 2.58.

The Rangers' pitching staff averaged 3.51 walks per nine innings last season, third-highest in the American League. Acquiring pitchers who can help reduce that ratio has been a priority this winter.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There are 93 Major League pitchers who have thrown at least 500 innings in the last 10 years. Doug Fister ranks ninth in that group with 2.08 walks per nine innings in his career and Mike Minor is 36th at 2.58.

The Rangers' pitching staff averaged 3.51 walks per nine innings last season, third-highest in the American League. Acquiring pitchers who can help reduce that ratio has been a priority this winter.

It was a driving force behind signing Fister and Minor, and it continues to figure prominently in the Rangers' deliberations with free agents.

"When we do kind of a critical analysis of the team and where we were and where we felt like we needed to improve, we talked about at the end of the year last year," manager Jeff Banister said. "There were two areas on both sides, offensively and defensively, the ability to command the strike zone in the batter's box, the ability to command the strike zone off the mound.

"So when you look at it, one of the first things you can do is go out and profile guys that you feel are better in that department. So, yeah, we feel like we've done some of that."

Rangers pitchers walked 4.06 batters per nine innings in the club's 84 losses last season. They averaged 2.95 in the club's 78 wins. The high number of walks was often a point of irritation for Banister in his postgame critiques.

"Well, look, when you think about the free battle on both sides, whether it's giving away or taking, when you're upside down on one of them, the win percentage goes down significantly," Banister said. "So the ability to control that, if you will, whether it's ball-strike ratio, less walks off the mound, more walks in the batter's box -- and it's not just about being in the batter's box just looking to walk. No, it's taking advantage of the walk that's in front of you. But it's also not giving those up. They go together."

Video: Gallo's defensive flexibility gives Rangers options

Rangers beat
• "I think he's an above-average first baseman right now. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that this guy, one day, he's an everyday first baseman, Gold Glove-type defense. That's just his range, his ability." -- Banister on Joey Gallo's defensive potential at first base

• Pitching is the Rangers' priority, but they are well aware the Marlins are in a sell mode. Outfielder Marcell Ozuna would be of interest to them. He has played both left and center field.

• Baseball America is reporting that the Rangers have signed 16-year-old shortstop Keithron Moss out of the Bahamas. The club has not confirmed.

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.

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