Rangel, Ortiz preaching consistency, patience

Rangers coaches monitoring players virtually, ready to ramp up, hopeful for season

May 28th, 2020

ARLINGTON -- The wait continues, but so do the Rangers' preparations.

Corey Kluber lives in Boston but has a place in Jupiter, Fla., he could go to for a couple of weeks and throw live batting practice to local players in the warm weather.

Lance Lynn is working out in Nashville, Tenn. Former Rangers infielder Logan Forsythe is among those working out with Lynn, whose goal by the end of the week is to reach the equivalent of 65 pitches over four simulated innings.

Mike Minor is on the same program in Knoxville, Tenn., and so is Kyle Gibson, at his home outside St. Louis. Jordan Lyles, who lives in Denver, hasn’t been able to throw live batting practice but has simulated three up-and-down innings.

Pitching coach Julio Rangel monitors them all from his home in Clearwater, Fla., staying in touch by phone and evaluating video when the pitchers send it to him.

“We have been -- since [May] 18th -- asking the pitchers to ramp up a little bit and adding a little more intensity to their bullpens,” Rangel said. “For the starters, start simulating a little more of the ups and downs. A lot of them have been facing hitters where they are at in their hometowns.

“So, it’s been preparing and trying to get them ready for whenever we get the date we have to start.”

The Rangers can’t sit around and wait for news about the negotiations.

“It’s going to come quick,” hitting coach Luis Ortiz said. “So, having those guys add a little competition to their training is paramount. We have been asking guys to hit more off the machine. ... We have to be ready for the challenge.”

This is what it has been like for the Rangers' coaching staff since baseball has been shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rangel and Ortiz have been doing everything they can to keep their players ready in hopes that an agreement will come soon.

“The good thing is that the last few years of baseball technology has made it so normal that people just video tape and send it to you,” Ortiz said.

Infielder Yadiel Rivera, who is with the Rangers on a Minor League contract, is working out in Puerto Rico and sent Ortiz a video of his workouts. Ortiz made some notes on the video and sent it back.

“They're so used to it that it really doesn't seem abnormal what we're doing right now,” Ortiz said.

Rangel is planning on his pitchers getting three “outings” in some scenario during an abbreviated Spring Training. Working up to four innings and 65 pitches at home should allow them to build to at least 80-90 before the real season begins.

"They have mostly been doing steady work, 1-2 bullpens per week and catch five days a week,” Rangel said. “Most guys are getting to throw some kind of live BP. Guys started out with two [innings] and 35 pitches and had gotten to 3-50 last week. The next step is going to be 4-65. The goal is going to be that when they get here, they’ll be ready to pitch two or three innings out of the gate. I am confident we are going to accomplish that easily.

“Once the season starts, we might not let them go as deep, just to make sure the guys are getting back into shape, feeling good and bouncing back well from outing to outing. Once we see that, and they are able to get at least two or three outings where they get through five [innings] and 90 pitches, then we’ll start letting them go a bit and go from there.”

For hitters? That’s no secret. They need to see pitches and live pitching. They need as many at-bats as possible to get their timing back. Many Rangers hitters have been working out at Globe Life Field, but that is only the start of what they will need when baseball returns.

"The biggest thing for me is to not fight against time,” Ortiz said. “Most guys have been working out regularly. They shouldn't try to rush. The foundation is there. What we have to guard against -- what we can't afford -- is for guys to get hurt preparing because they are trying to do things too quickly."