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Notes: Rangers pay tribute to Negro Leagues

Goody among those making team; Palumbo gets a relief audition
@Sullivan_Ranger
July 17, 2020

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers honored the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues by having the Fort Worth Wonders play the Dallas Black Giants in Thursday’s intrasquad scrimmage. Fort Worth came away with a 3-2 victory in seven innings, with catcher Nick Ciuffo hitting a two-run home run off losing pitcher

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers honored the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues by having the Fort Worth Wonders play the Dallas Black Giants in Thursday’s intrasquad scrimmage.

Fort Worth came away with a 3-2 victory in seven innings, with catcher Nick Ciuffo hitting a two-run home run off losing pitcher Kyle Gibson in the fourth.

The Wonders and Black Giants are the names of two semi-pro baseball teams from the early 20th century that competed in various leagues in North Texas. Catcher Jeff Mathis managed Fort Worth while Robinson Chirinos was in charge of Dallas.

“With the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues, I thought it was important to include some of the local teams,” manager Chris Woodward said. “I researched a bunch of teams. There were some pretty fascinating stories.”

The Fort Worth Wonders were formed in 1905 and played in various leagues. Among their players was Louis Santop, who was originally from Fort Worth and got his start with the Wonders in 1909. He was primarily a catcher with massive power and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

The Dallas Black Giants were in existence on and off from 1908-49. Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, who went to Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas, played for the Black Giants in 1949.

Thursday was the first of three games between the Wonders and Giants in what is being called the Texas Rangers Summer Showdown. Mathis and Chirinos drafted the teams and made out the lineups. Rougned Odor was the first overall pick by Chirinos.

There is also a trophy at stake. Woodward said it is a rough replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy awarded to the Super Bowl winner, only with a baseball on top instead of a football.

“Something must be on the line because Lance Lynn hung around to watch the game for the other team,” Gibson said. “He is not going to stick around unless he has to. He is obviously in it to win it. He would love to have that third game [on Saturday] mean something so he can throw Game 3. It sounds silly, but there is a little bit of pride and you want to win the three games.”

Woodward said the game must have been important. The pace of play slowed down from previous intrasquad games.

“I think it’s funny, you put a different uniform on each team, and the pace of play slowed down,” Woodward said. “Obviously they were taking it pretty seriously.”

Goody among those making team
Woodward told right-handed pitchers Nick Goody, Jonathan Hernández and Luke Farrell they will be on the Opening Day roster.

Assessing the Rangers' bullpen situation

Goody was not a surprise, but he had allowed three runs in his first two outings of Summer Camp. On Thursday night, he pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts. That was more in line with his performance in Arizona this spring, when he threw six scoreless with 14 strikeouts in six Cactus League games.

“He had a great beginning to camp the first time around,” Woodward said. “He's been battling with some slider command, a little bit, but he knows it's there; that's his best pitch. The last couple of outings, we've seen the same [things] we saw early in camp. You could see it today, he was really good.”

Relief audition for Palumbo
Joe Palumbo pitched three scoreless innings in relief for Fort Worth and was impressive. He allowed a hit and a walk while striking out four.

Palumbo is considered part of the Rangers' rotation depth. But with left-handers Joely Rodríguez and Brett Martin starting the season on the injured list, Palumbo is being considered for a spot in the bullpen.

“Obviously that was super-impressive,” Woodward said. “The fastball was coming in hot. The curve and slider were really good. It was impressive.”

Rangers beat
• The Rangers officially placed Martin on the injured list to start the season. Since he is on the IL because of a positive test for COVID-19, he also comes off the 40-man roster while he is out.

• Outfielder Scott Heineman was 2-for-3 in Thursday’s game and is now 14-for-29 with three doubles, a triple and two home runs in Summer Camp.

• Gibson went six innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and four walks with six strikeouts. He also had to battle an urge to spit or lick his fingers, which are both taboo under these new health restrictions.

“I am a big subconscious spitter and a finger-licker,” Gibson said. “I caught myself a couple of times ready to spit and held it in.”

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.