SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have the worst record in the Cactus League, they have eight players still occupied by the World Baseball Classic and two-fifths of their projected rotation will start the season on the disabled list.All that said, much good is happening in camp as the Rangers are
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have the worst record in the Cactus League, they have eight players still occupied by the World Baseball Classic and two-fifths of their projected rotation will start the season on the disabled list.
All that said, much good is happening in camp as the Rangers are two weeks away from going home. Those eight players will eventually return, the club may have solid options for the rotation and the record is inconsequential. Texas had losing spring records in 2010-11 when it went to two World Series and was 9-19-5 in '15 when it ended up winning another division title.
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The positives are the Rangers' core relievers having good springs, strong left-field candidates are emerging and the overall health of the club is good beyond Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, and another setback for Josh Hamilton.
Only a few decisions remain in setting the 25-man roster.
Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Martin Perez are ready to head the rotation. A.J. Griffin, Mike Hauschild and Dillon Gee have all pitched their way to the front of the rotation competition, although there may still be time for Chi Chi Gonzalez and Nick Martinez to make a late run.
If Griffin wins one spot, Texas will face a decision on Hauschild, who is a Rule 5 Draft pick, and Gee, who has a Minor League contract and can opt for free agency if he's not on the Opening Day roster.
Keone Kela and Matt Bush have been impressive, with Tony Barnette and Jeremy Jeffress right behind. Tanner Scheppers is also re-establishing himself as a Major League reliever. That gives the Rangers five power arms behind closer Sam Dyson, with one spot to fill.
Left-hander Alex Claudio is the obvious candidate for that, except he hasn't had much work pitching for Puerto Rico. A rotation candidate could be kept as a long reliever or Texas could go for an alternate left-hander like Wesley Wright or Dario Alvarez.
Jonathan Lucroy is the starter and Robinson Chirinos is the backup. The Rangers need to identify Triple-A depth, especially with Brett Nicholas recovering from knee surgery. Patrick Cantwell, Brett Hayes, Steven Lerud and A.J. Jimenez are in camp on Minor League contracts.
Texas is set here with Mike Napoli at first, Rougned Odor at second, Elvis Andrus at short and Adrian Beltre at third. Jurickson Profar has all the qualifications to become the utility infielder.
But if the Rangers decide Profar will get most of his playing time in the outfield, they will need another backup infielder. That's why they are giving Drew Robinson a thorough audition, and so far, he is passing every test. Hanser Alberto is also a possibility.
Veteran first baseman James Loney and third baseman Will Middlebrooks are still in camp. One of the two could stay as a backup if Texas doesn't keep Robinson.
If Shin-Soo Choo gets most of his playing time at designated hitter, it locks in Carlos Gomez in center and Nomar Mazara in right. Delino DeShields has had an excellent spring, Profar has been outstanding in the Classic and Ryan Rua remains a strong option in left. The Rangers see progress with Joey Gallo, have a high regard for Jared Hoying and veteran Travis Snider is still in camp.
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.