Texas GM discusses priorities during shutdown

March 20th, 2020

ARLINGTON -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels is not discussing trades with other teams.

He is not holding organizational meetings with his own staff, manager Chris Woodward or the coaching staff to figure out who will be on the Rangers' Opening Day roster.

“I am sure in time,” Daniels said. “I can tell you I haven’t had a single discussion along those lines. That’s not where our focus is right now.”

Daniels updated the Rangers' media on Thursday. He spoke on a teleconference call, but the weariness was clear in his voice. As general manager, he is trying to help many people navigate recent events, and tries to offer more than just career advice.

These are a few areas of focus for the Rangers while baseball is on hiatus as a result of the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic:

Facilities and players
The Rangers have a handful of players working out on a limited basis at the Texas Rangers/MLB Youth Academy in West Dallas. Daniels didn’t want to say who because the roll call changes daily. The facility is being professionally cleaned daily.

Globe Life Field is still not completely ready for any workouts, but that could change by the end of next week.

“Once it is completed, we’ll have that cleaned and sanitized,” Daniels said. “Once it is under a more controlled environment, we’ll be able to move the stuff and follow the protocols, take precautions, and monitor cleanliness and sanitation. Then we’ll see where we are at and whether it makes sense to allow any activity at the ballpark or the academy.”

The Rangers have all but closed down their facilities in Surprise, Ariz. There are some Minor League players staying at Rangers Village, but they are all foreign-born players with no other place to go. Three-quarters are from Venezuela.

There are also a handful of Venezuelan players at the Rangers' academy in the Dominican Republic. All others have been told to return home.

“With some of those guys, going home is not a great option, or not an option at all,” Daniels said. “We are not going to turn our backs on them.”

Baseball care and preparation
Rangers players have scattered across the country and beyond to return to their homes and families. Each player -- those in both the Major and Minor Leagues -- will stay in touch with the organization through two avenues.

Each player will have multiple conversations weekly with a trainer or member of the medical staff. The players will also stay in touch with a member of the coaching staff to monitor what workouts they’re able to do.

Health is a priority. Baseball workouts are not.

“Some guys we understand are not going to have that ability to do it,” Daniels said. “We have to understand that. We have been really clear with our guys, we do not expect them to go to public gyms and we discouraged it. We want them to follow health protocols.”

The Rangers had five starting pitchers -- Corey Kluber, Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles -- who were all close to being ready to start the season. Now it is uncertain how they will do that under current circumstances and restrictions.

“All clubs are going to be in the same spot,” Daniels said. “All players are going to be in the same spot. We’ll do what we can in the meantime to keep the guys active and healthy, but we have to understand that’s going to be limited. There is a risk some guys are going to take a step back in readiness. That’s not something I want players to be concerned about to the point they are making poor decisions.”

The Rangers have a few players who are dealing with injuries: Willie Calhoun (fractured jaw), Jose Trevino (hairline fracture to his right index finger), Jesse Chavez (weak right shoulder), Jeff Mathis (pulled left hamstring) and Yohander Méndez (shoulder inflammation).

Daniels said they have been given rehab instructions, but scheduled re-examinations and follow-ups are on hold for now.

“Other than more emergency-like items, we are not sending anybody to a doctor right now,” Daniels said.

Daniels reiterated that no player or member of the organization has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Scouting and player development
Major League Baseball announced Thursday a plan for interim financial support for Minor League players. Each player who is under a Minor League Uniform Player Contract will receive a lump sum equal to the allowances that he would have been paid through April 8.

The exceptions are players who were in big league camp on Minor League contracts and already getting Major League allowances, and those like the players in Rangers Village who are under an organization’s care.

MLB is working with the 30 clubs to identify additional ways to support these players.

“We were glad to see that and are supportive of that,” Daniels said. “We are in the process of getting that money to the players shortly. There is still under consideration the best process.”

Daniels said all scouts -- amateur, professional and international -- have been taken off the road. Daniels isn’t sure what will happen with the June MLB Draft, but is hoping amateur scouts can at least stay in touch with prospects by email, text message or phone.

“These players are the future of the game,” Daniels said. “The more we can educate and learn about them, the better. I think it will be constructive for all involved.”