Key 2020 dates as Rangers enter new era
ARLINGTON -- Welcome to 2020. Here are some key dates and what they might mean for the Rangers.
Feb. 11: Pitchers and catchers report
Manager Chris Woodward's Rangers will have a veteran rotation that consists of Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, Corey Kluber, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles. But it will still be interesting to watch the progress made by young left-handers Brock Burke, Kolby Allard and Joe Palumbo, and right-handers Jonathan Hernandez and Ariel Jurado. All five are coming to camp as starting pitchers and represent Texas' long-term future. Left-hander Taylor Hearn, who missed almost all of last season with an elbow injury, will also be given a chance to start.
Feb. 12: First pitchers/catchers workout
Veteran Jeff Mathis and Jose Trevino, who played well as a rookie, ended last season sharing the workload behind the plate. The Rangers, who met with Robinson Chirinos’ agents at the Winter Meetings, are still looking for catching depth. Texas is also expected to bring Sam Huff -- its No. 2-ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline -- to camp. Blake Swihart and Nick Ciuffo, who both have big league time, will come to camp on non-roster invites. Swihart, who can play multiple positions, will be given a chance behind the plate.
Feb. 16: Position players report
Still to be determined is who will report as the leading candidate to be the starting third baseman. Josh Donaldson and Todd Frazier are the best remaining free agents, and Miguel Andújar of the Yankees is one trade possibility. He may not be strong enough defensively for the Rangers. Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Nick Solak are the best internal candidates but may be better fits at other positions or a utility role.
Feb. 17: First full-squad workout
Danny Santana is the Rangers’ leading candidate to play center field, now that Delino DeShields has been traded. Santana needs to claim that spot on his own. The same holds true with Ronald Guzmán at first base. Texas love his defense but isn’t sure if Guzmán can be more than a platoon left-handed player. He hit .134 with a .299 slugging percentage against left-handers last season.
Feb. 21: First Spring Training game
The Rangers open against the Royals in Surprise, Ariz., and that should be a good day for left fielder Willie Calhoun and second baseman Rougned Odor to get some work. Texas needs big years from both players. Odor hit 30 home runs with 93 RBIs last season -- but with a .205 batting average and 178 strikeouts. Calhoun finally worked his way into an everyday role in left field last season, and the Rangers cleared the last obstacle by trading Nomar Mazara to the White Sox. Now the onus is on Calhoun to reward Texas for its confidence.
March 21: Rangers break camp
Will veteran Edinson Vólquez win a job on the Opening Day roster?
March 23: Globe Life Field’s first game
The Rangers get their first look at their new ballpark with an exhibition game against the Cardinals. The park will also host a game between Texas and its own Minor League players the next day. These will be test runs for the home opener one week later.
March 26: Opening Day
The Rangers open the season against the Mariners in a 3:10 p.m. CT at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. Will Minor, Kluber or Lynn get the Opening Day start? One possibility is that Minor starts on Opening Day and Lynn pitches the first game at Globe Life Field. That said, Kluber’s first start -- home or road -- may be the most anticipated.
March 31: Home opener
The Angels will be in Arlington for the first regular-season game at Globe Life Field. Elvis Andrus enters his 12th season with Texas 200 games behind Michael Young for the most games played in club history. Andrus is signed through 2022 with a club option for ‘23.
July 12: All-Star Futures Game
Among the top prospects the Rangers would like to see make big progress this year are pitchers Hans Crouse, Cole Winn, Ricky Vanasco and Tyler Phillips, outfielders Leody Taveras, Steele Walker and Bubba Thompson, and third basemen Josh Jung, Sherten Apostel and Davis Wendzel.
July 14: Major League All-Star Game
The 91st All-Star Game will be held at Dodger Stadium. Joey Gallo was one of three All-Stars for Texas last year. The club just wants him healthy for a full season, as injuries limited him to 70 games last year, when he hit .253 with 22 home runs, 49 RBIs and a .598 slugging percentage.
July 31: Trade Deadline
The Rangers are close to having their farm system fully replenished. So if they are in contention at the Deadline, they could be in position to make a major addition. If they are out of the race, the club could end up initiating another selloff, with Lynn, Kluber and Minor in play. What looks like a vaunted rotation going into Spring Training could be a coveted trove of trade bait at the end of July.
Sept. 27: Rangers vs. Mariners
The final game of the regular season will be at home against the Mariners. By then, we’ll know if Texas will be going to the postseason -- or at least enjoying its first winning season since 2016.