The Rangers' Triple-A affiliate the Round Rock Express and their Dell Diamond stadium will serve as the alternate training site for the 2021 season, both organizations announced Tuesday. The players expected to be at the alternate site are expected to be announced before MLB Opening Day.
Round Rock will open the '21 Minor League season on Thursday, May 6, at home against the Oklahoma City Dodgers.
“We are grateful to Mike Daly, Paul Kruger and the entire Rangers player development staff for allowing us to host their alternate training site,” Round Rock general manager Tim Jackson said. “Many of the players that will report to Dell Diamond in April will likely be members of the Express at some point in 2021, so for them to be able to familiarize themselves with this great ballpark and the city of Round Rock will be a huge benefit as we head into the summer.”
“We greatly appreciate our partnership with Round Rock and for the Express to host our alternate training site in Central Texas,” Rangers assistant general manager Mike Daly added. “This is an exciting first step towards baseball returning to Dell Diamond in 2021.”
The alternate site was a concept developed during the '20 MLB season after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the Minor Leagues. The site provides a training area geographically close to the big league club for players to be ready to quickly and safely be called up.
Limited attendance may be allowed for select exhibition games and workouts, but details are still being developed.
Rangers general manager Chris Young said the club is still working through how to use the alternate site this year and if it will be at all different than how they worked through it in '20.
Manager Chris Woodward said he liked how the organization handled the alternate site last season and expects to do more of the same in '21.
“We got as much as we possibly could out of it,” Woodward said. “There's a ton of development and growth, and, honestly, it was a really competitive environment. You’ve got to be creative because you don't have innings every day and you’ve got to somehow get these guys, you know reps that are game like. Our staff and whoever's there, they'll learn from last year and make some tweaks and adjustments, but I'm pretty confident that we'll get these guys ready.”
The delay of the ‘21 Minor League season has left them figuring out what exactly to do with some of the top prospects like Sam Huff or Josh Jung. Both Young and Woodward are hoping to get the prospects playing in real games as soon as possible with the Minor League season starting up in May.
“Getting this young group significant playing time and not delaying their progress is very important to us,” Young said. “We're hopeful the Minor League season will start on time, or with the delay start there and not be further delayed, so we can get these guys out there. It's really important for our organization, especially looking ahead to the future.”
Dahl injury update
Left fielder David Dahl left Monday’s game against the Rockies after fouling a ball off of his right knee. Woodward said after the game that he could have stayed in, and probably would have if it were the regular season, but they kept him out as a precaution.
He was also kept out of the lineup in Tuesday’s matchup with the Angels, after initial consideration about starting him at designated hitter. Woodward said he watched Dahl take batting practice today and his knee still wasn’t feeling great.
Dahl will likely appear in Wednesday’s "B" game to get him more reps.
“At the end of the day it was just kind of a 50/50,” Woodward said. “Like if he's not gonna feel great, why do it. [The B game] will be a little bit more controlled and, hopefully, it'll feel better tomorrow. There's no reason to turn it into something where he's like limping and then he ends up tweaking a hamstring or hurting his back or something because of it. We'll just get him up to speed today and it'll be, hopefully, good to go tomorrow.”