Rangers' rookie pitchers get Driveline treatment

February 19th, 2019

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers rookie left-handed pitchers C.D. Pelham, Brady Feigl and followed the path of this winter. Those three were sent by the Rangers to Driveline Baseball, the Seattle-area workout facility that is developing a nationwide reputation for being able to help pitchers.

Driveline uses slow-motion video cameras and other high-tech devices to help pitchers "design" their pitches. The pitchers are able to see how their pitches are working rather than having to go by feel.

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Pelham, Feigl and Martin, all in big league camp as bullpen candidates, spent three weeks in Seattle working on their breaking pitches. Pelham, who can hit 101 mph with his fastball, also has a changeup but is trying to refine his slider as a potential strikeout pitch.

"So far it has been working," Pelham said. "I have to keep at it. It really helped me out. We enjoyed [Driveline], it was really good, it really helped me out."

Feigl and Martin were focused on refining their curveballs. Martin, a reliever who can hit 98 mph, once had an excellent curveball but lost the feel for it over the past two years. He went to Driveline to try to get it back.

"Halfway through last year, I stopped throwing it," Martin said of his curve. "I wanted to get it back. I need to make sure I command it and can throw it for strikes when I need to. Now I feel I have my curveball back. I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out in games."

Plan for Smyly, Miller, Volquez

Rangers pitchers had a day off from throwing on Tuesday. The next step is to start throwing live batting practice. Some will throw one live BP before pitching in a Cactus League game, but the three starters coming back from Tommy John surgery will throw at least two.

, and have had no trouble with their bullpen sessions, but the Rangers are still being careful with them.

"I was watching Volquez throw some bullpens and they were coming out pretty good," manager Chris Woodward said. "He looks in great shape. His arm feels great, there is no inhibitions about how he is throwing the ball. It's pretty good. Same with Shelby, first [bullpen] was OK, second time it looked better and the other day I saw him and it looked like he was getting after it.

"Drew has looked good the whole time. He said his arm feels great. Obviously we've got to constantly monitor them to make sure they are OK. I don't see them holding back at all. They are saying all the right things, it's proved by how they are throwing the ball."

Woodward prefers no platoons

, and are all candidates to be a right-handed bat off the bench for the Rangers. That could be crucial for a lineup stocked with left-handed power: , , , and .

But Woodward said he would prefer those lefty sluggers be everyday players and not be placed into a platoon situation with a right-handed bat.

"If they feel different, we need to be aware of that," Woodward said. "Maybe put them on the back field and face some of our own left-handed pitchers. We have to make them comfortable in those at-bats because I don't plan sitting all of them. Nomar Mazara should be an everyday guy. Joey Gallo should be an everyday guy."

Rangers beat

, who is in camp on a Minor League contract, has the rare ability to play shortstop and center field. He will be used at both spots in Spring Training. Santana hit .319 for the Twins in 2014 and was seventh in American League Rookie of the Year Award voting. He has hit .219 in 263 games over the past four years.

"For him to make the team, things have got to happen, but he does provide some veteran qualities," said Woodward.

• Pence remains limited with a sore right shoulder.

• The Rangers are still getting all their work done even though the temperature was in the 40s when they took the field on Tuesday morning. Woodward said the big concern is keeping players warm and stretched out.