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Rangers want Bush to refine changeup

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers want Matt Bush to develop his changeup if he ends up being in the starting rotation.

Bush mainly threw a fastball and hard slider over his two years as a reliever. He did not throw a changeup much at all, but offspeed pitches are crucial to starters going two to three times through a lineup. A changeup or an improved curveball could help.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers want Matt Bush to develop his changeup if he ends up being in the starting rotation.

Bush mainly threw a fastball and hard slider over his two years as a reliever. He did not throw a changeup much at all, but offspeed pitches are crucial to starters going two to three times through a lineup. A changeup or an improved curveball could help.

"We have encouraged him to see the value of [the changeup]," manager Jeff Banister said. "He's got a good one, but he has to refine it and use it more."

Bush's fastball, according to Statcast™, was clocked at an average of 97.6 mph last season, 10th highest among pitchers who threw at least 500 of them. His spin rate of 2,546 rpm was the second highest, which means he was getting the rising action that induces swing-and-miss on the fastball.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Bush's slider averaged 89.7 mph, tied for the sixth highest. Only 20 percent of balls put in play (6-of-30) were considered hard-hit, but his 26.9 percent swing-and-miss rate was in the bottom 20 percent of pitchers with at least 50 swings against the slider.

Bush had a good curveball in 2016. Opponents hit .122 off it with a .146 slugging percentage and a 36.1 percent swing-and-miss rate. That changed in 2017. Opponents hit .306 with a .444 slugging percentage, while his swing-and-miss rate dropped to 15.6 percent.

Banister checks out TCU, Schlossnagle

Banister saw his first baseball game of the spring on Friday night.

He and third-base coach Tony Beasley drove into Phoenix to watch the TCU Horned Frogs play Grand Canyon University. The Frogs, ranked No. 7 in the nation, rallied in the ninth inning for a 3-2 victory.

"They have a nice little ballpark, but it jacked me up when I drove up and saw everything was [TCU] purple," Banister said.

TCU has become a national power in baseball under head coach Jim Schlossnagle, who is entering his 15th season in Fort Worth. The Frogs are also aiming for their fifth straight College World Series appearance.

The Rangers and TCU have developed a strong relationship over the years, and that extends to the manager and head coach. Banister and Schlossnagle have become close friends over the past three years.

"Good guy ... I respect what he has done and what he has built at TCU," Banister said. "Anytime you are successful people, you want to know what they do. But we're just friends with shared experiences. We live in the same community and care about the same things. ... Tremendous human being."

Banister missed the best part of the game. It was a night game in Phoenix and Banister is an early riser in Spring Training. He had to leave after six innings and missed the Frogs' game-winning rally.

Rangers beat

• Pitcher Matt Moore was held out of pitchers' fielding practice on Saturday because of soreness in the back of his right knee.

Bartolo Colon had this to say about being nicknamed "Big Sexy" by former Mets teammate Noah Syndergaard: "It doesn't bother me at all. If people like to call me that, I don't care. I feel good. I've been pitching about 15 seasons with this body. I feel good."

• The Rangers expect Edinson Volquez to report on Wednesday after agreeing to a Minor League contract Friday. He is recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery and is not expected to pitch this year.

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.

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