Notes: Hearn, Arihara struggle; White
Taylor Hearn said his last Cactus League outing against the Giants on March 17 was his worst of the spring, but Sunday afternoon’s matchup with Cleveland was only slightly better.
The lefty was pulled with two outs in the second inning, reentered to start the third and exited with one out and the bases leaded in the fourth having allowed four runs (one earned) on two hits and three walks. He said he missed a few spots in the umpire’s tight strike zone and got tired toward the end of his outing, which ended at 61 pitches. Manager Chris Woodward said Hearn was "decent" on the mound, but just ran out of gas.
Hearn hadn’t thrown that many pitches in an outing since the 2018 Minor League season, which was the last time he was used as a starter. In 2019-20, he was mostly a one- or two-innings guy at the Major League level.
“I'm feeling a lot better, feeling good now,” Hearn said. “I'm getting stretched out a little bit more, so now I'm kind of getting used to it. And other than that, I'm feeling good. I'm pretty pleased with this spring so far.”
Hearn did think he attacked the strike zone better against Cleveland than he did against the Giants, but he still feels like he needs to be more consistent down the stretch.
Arihara’s tough 'B' game outing
Rangers pitcher Kohei Arihara was noticeably disappointed in his "B" game start on Sunday morning. Against the Royals, Arihara was unable to get through the first, third or fourth innings, giving up five hits, four walks and three earned runs on 74 pitches.
Arihara previously had made three Cactus League starts this spring, with a 3.00 ERA. He only walked one batter in those three appearances.
Arihara said he felt like his body wasn’t moving the way he wanted it to in the "B" game, and he wasn’t able to get his arm speed up to where it typically is.
“I wasn't able to perform at the level that I know that I need to, it is frustrating,” Arihara said through a translator.
He said pitching so early, at 10 a.m. local time, also could have had an effect on his performance. Regardless, Arihara said it was still frustrating to not pitch as well as he wanted to.
A positive to take from the outing was that his changeup -- just one of Arihara’s seven pitches -- was working well throughout the game. In the final weeks of Spring Training, he wants to work on improving all his pitches and use those to shut out the other teams. He feels like he’s heading in the right direction.
“Today was a frustrating outing for me, but overall up to this point, I think it's been going well,” Arihara said. “Adjustment-wise, I hope to keep my condition up heading into the season.”
Woodward said Arihara has met the coaching staff’s expectations for him this spring, especially in the way he utilizes his pitches. He’s got more swings and misses in his arsenal than expected, especially with his fastball, even if that wasn’t on display on Sunday.
“I expected a guy that comes into the zone, that wants to learn,” Woodward said. “He's got questions. He's wanting to work on different things without losing his strength. I think the competitiveness, it's all there. Honestly, it's been fun to watch. I wouldn't say he's gonna have more success here than in Japan, but I think he can.”
White has spent most of the spring in the center-field competition with Leody Taveras, but Woodward confirmed that White has taken reps at first base in practice. He’s also taken reps at both middle-infield positions, where he played most of his college and Minor League career before making the switch to a full-time outfielder with the Rangers' organization.
“We obviously put him in the outfield for a reason -- he’s an elite outfielder,” Woodward said. “He's playing really well right now. I love that he's versatile, but I also want to see him play. So if he earns playing time, it's probably gonna be as a center fielder. Playing time in center field, that's kind of where I see him having the most benefit.”
Sunday was one of White’s worst days at the plate this spring, as he went 0-for-4 against Cleveland to drop his batting average from .333 to .280. But his performance at first base was admirable for his first big league game at the position.
Woodward said White is not likely to be an everyday option at first base, but his ability to fill in there gives the club a right-handed option at the position.
“I think he's a good athlete, so I thought first base would be pretty easy,” Woodward said. “He looked pretty good. Even on some of the balls where he had to be the cutoff man, he kind of knew where to be, made a nice pick on one. When you don't notice them, I think that's when you know he looks like he's doing the right thing out there. He obviously didn't get any ground balls, but he was able to make it all look pretty smooth.”