MESA, Ariz. -- Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara were among 20 players who agreed to contracts for the 2018 season, the Rangers announced on Saturday.The next step could be potential long-term contracts for the two players, at least to avoid salary-arbitration proceedings. The Rangers have a history of attempting long-term
MESA, Ariz. -- Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara were among 20 players who agreed to contracts for the 2018 season, the Rangers announced on Saturday.
The next step could be potential long-term contracts for the two players, at least to avoid salary-arbitration proceedings. The Rangers have a history of attempting long-term deals with their younger players, and Gallo and Mazara would be the next logical candidates.
The Rangers broached the subject with Mazara last year and didn't get very far. But they did sign second baseman Rougned Odor to a six-year, $49.5 million contract extension, even though he had just two-plus years of service time.
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Matt Vinnola, the Rangers' director of baseball operations who handles much of their contract negotiations, said nothing is going on right now but added, "We are not going to close the door on anything."
Mazara agreed to a contract worth $563,560, while Gallo settled at $560,000. The Major League minimum is $545,000. Reliever Matt Bush agreed to a salary of $555,000 while the rest were right at or close to the minimum.
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The Rangers have just three players on the 40-man roster who have not agreed to a contract: Alex Claudio, Nick Gardewine and Joe Palumbo. The Rangers expect to reach deals with each of them in the next day or two without exercising the right to automatically renew their contracts.
Alberto returns, exits
Hanser Alberto started at second base in the Rangers' Cactus League opener against the Cubs on Saturday, and he said before the game he is back to full strength again after missing all of 2017 with a shoulder injury.
That didn't last long.
Alberto was lifted in the fifth inning with tightness in his left hamstring. Alberto said he felt the muscle pinch, and the Rangers did not want to take a chance on a cold day.
The injury is not considered serious, but Alberto hasn't had much luck with injuries. He hurt his shoulder in Spring Training last year and never recovered. Alberto played in just five games on a medical rehabilitation assignment in June before reinjuring the shoulder and undergoing season-ending surgery. He played eight games in winter ball.
"It was a tough year ... something you don't want," Alberto said. "It happens ... you have to be positive. I played winter ball, and there was no pain or soreness. Nothing is bothering me."
Alberto served as a utility infielder for parts of 2015 and '16. His big moment for the Rangers was having the game-winning hit in the 14th inning of Game 2 of the 2015 American League Division Series against the Blue Jays.
• Mike Minor will make his first start of the spring on Monday against the Dodgers in Surprise. Ariel Jurado will start Tuesday against the Dodgers in Glendale, with Cole Hamels and Doug Fister facing off in a simulated game in Surprise. Matt Moore pitches Wednesday against the White Sox in Glendale.
• The Rangers continue to take it slow with shortstop Elvis Andrus and third baseman Adrian Beltre, especially with morning temperatures in the 40-50 degree range. Andrus is still trying to clear up some back spasms. Beltre doesn't have a physical issue, but the Rangers aren't going to push him because of his history of leg problems in Spring Training.
• The Rangers and Cubs both wore caps from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Saturday in honor of the victims of the Feb. 14 shooting. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo went to MSD High and hit a two-run home run on Saturday.
Bush pitches against the Rockies at 2:05 p.m. CT Sunday in Surprise (listen live on Gameday Audio). This will be Bush's first start as he tries to win a spot in the rotation after two years in relief. Gallo is also expected in the lineup as the Rangers play their first home game of the spring.
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.