ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have set their 30-man Opening Day roster, and rookie outfielder Leody Taveras is on the team.
Taveras is Texas' No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline and has never played above Double-A Frisco. But he has made the team because of his speed and defense off the bench, the Rangers announced after Wednesday night's 7-3 exhibition loss to the Rockies at Globe Life Field.
“When this camp started, he was more in the prospect group than battling for a spot on the roster,” manager Chris Woodward said. “We had no intention of keeping him. But he just earned it with everything he did.”
Taveras is the only player on the Rangers' 30-man roster who has yet to play in the Major Leagues.
“I'm just going to continue to do the things that I do every day,” Taveras said. “Prepare the way I prepare every day in practice, and just be ready for whatever they call on me."
The other decisions made included keeping left-handers Joe Palumbo and Kolby Allard over Taylor Hearn in the bullpen. Right-hander Ian Gibaut also made the team following his impressive Summer Camp showing, with Jimmy Herget and Hearn being sent to the alternate camp.
Finally, the Rangers are going with Ronald Guzmán over Greg Bird as their backup first baseman. Bird could have become a free agent, but instead, he is staying with Texas and will be at its alternate camp.
Here is a full breakdown of the Rangers' 30-man roster.
Starting rotation: RHP Lance Lynn, LHP Mike Minor, RHP Corey Kluber, RHP Kyle Gibson, RHP Jordan Lyles
The Rangers have Palumbo and Allard in reserve. They both earned spots in the bullpen, but they are stretched out sufficiently so that they could step in for a spot start if needed.
Texas has the option of skipping Lyles the first time through the rotation, because it has three off-days in the first 11 days of the season. The Rangers won’t need a fifth starter until Aug. 8.
“I signed here for two years,” Lyles said after allowing three runs in 4 2/3 innings on Wednesday night. “I would love to make every start, But I am also here for the Texas Rangers and not solely myself. The season is going to be weird. If I can do anything to help the Texas Rangers in this 60-game season, I will.”
Bullpen: RHP José Leclerc, RHP Jesse Chavez, RHP Nick Goody, RHP Jonathan Hernández, RHP Luke Farrell, RHP Edinson Vólquez, LHP Joe Palumbo, LHP Kolby Allard, RHP Ian Gibaut
The Rangers are missing three key relievers -- left-handers Joely Rodríguez and Brett Martin and right-hander Rafael Montero. Rodríguez, sidelined with a strained lat muscle, is closer than the other two. Montero, who was supposed to be Texas' top right-handed setup reliever, was late to camp and then developed a strained right forearm, so the Rangers aren’t sure when he’ll return. Martin tested positive for COVID-19.
Montero’s absence leaves it uncertain who Woodward will use in the eighth inning. Hernández has premium stuff, including a 98-mph sinker, but he has limited big league experience.
“That’s obviously a huge factor, especially if it’s Game 1,” Woodward said. “Early in the season, they have to get their feet wet just a little bit so we can put them in that role. Vólquez comes to mind, because he has pitched in so many big games, he can handle it. We’ll look at it from a matchup standpoint and evaluate who can handle that from a mental standpoint.”
Catchers: Robinson Chirinos, Jeff Mathis, Jose Trevino
Chirinos is the lead catcher and appears to have recovered from a sprained right ankle. Woodward admitted finding playing time for both Mathis and Trevino will be tough.
“In the beginning of the year, I am definitely going to get them both in a game,” Woodward said. “I don’t want them to wait a week or two weeks. I will catch Chirinos as much as he can, and then put Mathis and Trevino in and then go from there.”
Infielders: 1B Todd Frazier, 2B Rougned Odor, SS Elvis Andrus, 3B Isiah Kiner-Falefa, 1B Ronald Guzmán, UTL Rob Refsnyder,
Yadiel Rivera did not make the 30-man roster, but he is the Rangers' best defensive option at shortstop if something happens. Guzmán, who beat out Greg Bird for a job as backup first baseman, could be used defensively late in games. Refsnyder is a right-handed bat off the bench.
“We are going to have seven guys on our bench,” Woodward said. “For me to get playing time for all these guys is impossible. I let them know that. They are all aware of their role.”
Outfielders: Willie Calhoun, Nick Solak, Danny Santana, Joey Gallo, Shin-Soo Choo, Scott Heineman, Leody Taveras
Solak is expected to start in left field, at least on Opening Day. Long term, he will serve in a utility role, but Woodward wants to get him in the lineup as much as possible.
Calhoun is dealing with a strained right hip flexor. He started on Wednesday night at designated hitter and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
“Physically, he’s fine,” Woodward said. “He’s still trying to find his timing at the plate. To think that Robinson Chirinos might catch Game 1 and Willie might DH Game 2, from where we were a couple of weeks ago, I’m pretty happy about that. If you ask me a couple of weeks ago, I was a little concerned. As of right now, we’re in pretty good shape heading into the season.”
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.