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Stamina, strength: Palumbo adds 20 pounds

Rangers' No. 6 prospect impresses as Texas opens Cactus slate
@Sullivan_Ranger
February 23, 2020

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Rangers left-hander Joe Palumbo put on 20 pounds this offseason, and manager Chris Woodward said that he notices a difference already. “Oh my God, you can see it visually,” Woodward said after the Rangers' 7-5 victory over the Mariners on Sunday, which opened their Cactus League slate.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Rangers left-hander Joe Palumbo put on 20 pounds this offseason, and manager Chris Woodward said that he notices a difference already.

“Oh my God, you can see it visually,” Woodward said after the Rangers' 7-5 victory over the Mariners on Sunday, which opened their Cactus League slate. “You can see it in the weight room. The way he carries himself. His body is still moving good. The arm is free.

“I think it is really going to help him from a stamina standpoint, get through the whole season. That’s always been a concern. Now that he has a little more mass, he can handle it better.”

Palumbo made his first start on Sunday and pitched two scoreless innings, setting down the side in order in the first with two strikeouts. He walked the first two to start the second and escaped with a fly ball and double-play grounder.

Palumbo was 0-3 with a 9.18 ERA in four starts and three relief appearances with the Rangers last season. He is the Rangers' No. 6 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, and is expected to start the season at Triple-A Nashville. He is hoping to change that plan.

“I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, but of course I am trying to make the team,” Palumbo said. “I am going to do everything I can to make the best impression possible.”

The Rangers hit three homers against the Mariners from Tim Federowicz, Adolis García and Yadiel Rivera. Demarcus Evans closed out the win by striking out Cal Raleigh with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth.

Love that English Rugby

The Rangers' rugby expert? That would be reliever Ian Gibaut.

He and his father Russel have traveled to Sydney and Paris to watch the English national team compete in the Rugby World Cup finals. They were there in 2003 when England beat Australia in the finals in Sydney. Gibaut was nine years old at the time and living in Houston.

“England had just made the World Cup Final and a friend of my dad called and said, ‘I have two tickets for you. If you can get over here, they are yours,'” Gibaut said. “So he dragged me with him. We hopped on a plane and got to Sydney. They won that one but lost the next one in Paris.”

Russel Gibaut is from the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel. He attended Oxford University and played there before coming to the United States as an oil trader.

“He has always been a big fan,” Gibaut said. “I remember him waking me at 3 in the morning to watch a game with him when it would be on over in England. I get the gist of it, but there are some rules I definitely don’t know."

Rangers win B game

The Rangers were able to get in 6 2/3 innings of pitching during a 4-2 victory over the Royals in a B game on the Nolan Ryan Field. Texas got a scoreless inning each from Jason Bahr, Taylor Guerrieri, Gibaut and Derek Law. Jimmy Herget gave up a home run in his one inning and Tyler Phillips allowed an unearned run over 1 2/3 innings.

Rangers catcher Nick Ciuffo and utility player Brendon Davis both homered. Willie Calhoun was 0-for-3 as the designated hitter.

He said it

“Good first day. I loved it. It was fun. It has been a while. It was just fun getting out there. I feel athletic. I feel I can move. That’s great for me.” -- Rangers first baseman Greg Bird, playing Sunday for the first time since missing most of last season with a foot injury while playing for the Yankees.

Rangers beat

• Catcher Robinson Chirinos and first baseman Sam Travis, sidelined with sore right hamstrings, both ran the bases on Sunday morning and are about a week away from playing in a game.

• Outfielder Danny Santana is expected to play against the Reds on Monday. It will be his first action since leaving Friday’s game with tightness in his left calf.

• Woodward said infielder Andy Ibáñez is a “big leaguer.” Woodward said that Ibáñez is a good contact hitter who has learned to drive the ball more, hitting 20 homers and slugging .497 at Triple-A. Ibáñez's next position is second base, so he is blocked by Rougned Odor. But Woodward said he would have no problem putting Ibáñez in a Major League lineup.

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.