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Surprise gathering: Rangers report in search of identity

Club looking to find cohesion in Arizona with Banister at helm, key players returning from injury

ARLINGTON -- With a new manager, several new faces and a number of players returning from serious injuries, the Rangers go into Spring Training with the goal of establishing their identity.

With pitchers and catchers reporting Friday to Surprise, Ariz., high on the Rangers' agenda is figuring out just who they are as a team.

"Any time in Spring Training, establishing an identity is paramount," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Any time you move forward in Spring Training, there is a certain identity that comes with you from previous years, based on the core group of players you already have.

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"But establishing an identity is crucial. You're not going to just turn a light on with Game 1. I don't think that happens. There is a progression and a process by which players need to be able to get comfortable and get ready to play but they should be establishing their identity individually and collectively throughout Spring Training."

The Rangers have 61 players coming to camp with one or two possible additions before or after Friday. The list includes 32 pitchers and six catchers expected for the first workout Saturday.

The first full-squad workout is Feb. 26, but most position players will be there before that date to take advantage of a training facility that remains among the best in baseball. This will be the 13th spring for the Rangers sharing a complex with the Royals in Surprise.

Banister's goal is to have short but intense and productive workouts -- get the work done right, get off the field healthy and be ready for games. Health is huge with Prince Fielder (neck), Mitch Moreland (left ankle), Tanner Scheppers (elbow), Jurickson Profar (shoulder), Shin-Soo Choo (ankle, shoulder) and Matt Harrison (back) among players coming back from injury.

Video: Daniels, Banister on anticipation of Rangers' spring

Texas also have to clear up its outfield situation, find a fifth starter and put together a bullpen. These are the normal Spring Training decisions, although the left-field job could have almost a dozen candidates competing for it.

But what is unusual for the Rangers is to be coming off a 95-loss season, and they are still searching for what they are going to be as a team in 2015.

"We have a lot of guys coming back from last year and yet they haven't played together before," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We talk about establishing an identity and cohesiveness, there is going to be a lot of that this spring.

"New manager, new members of the staff and new players, but this is a core group that hasn't been on the field together. Establishing roles, staying healthy and establishing what we want to be about is going to be big this spring."

Pitchers and catchers report

Full squad reports
Feb. 25

First Spring Training game
Home vs. Royals, 2:05 p.m. CT on March 4

Opening Day
Away vs. Athletics, 9:05 p.m. CT on April 6

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger.
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