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Inbox: Who will get the call to close for Texas?

@Sullivan_Ranger
February 10, 2020

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Tuesday, and fans are interested in the state of the bullpen and the depth of the position players. Who will be the surprises and who are some of the overlooked players in camp are among the inquiries in

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Tuesday, and fans are interested in the state of the bullpen and the depth of the position players.

Who will be the surprises and who are some of the overlooked players in camp are among the inquiries in the latest Rangers Inbox.

Who is closing in 2020? Is Jose Leclerc locked in, or does anyone else have a shot in Spring Training? -- Alex W., Austin, Texas

General manager Jon Daniels made a curious statement earlier in the offseason. He said Leclerc was “likely” the closer but that the club wanted to talk about it some more. That comment was a real head-scratcher, because the Rangers really didn’t have any other alternative at the time.

Then last week they signed right-hander Cody Allen.

The Rangers now have some serious competition for that role. Leclerc is still going to be in the bullpen, barring something unforeseen, but Allen was a successful closer for the Indians in the past. From 2013-17, he was one of the best relievers in the American League, with a 2.59 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and 122 saves.

The past two seasons weren’t quite as good. Allen had some injuries, and his delivery got out of whack. Manager Chris Woodward said Allen has been working hard on strength, mobility and other biomechanics this winter. If Allen has a bounceback year, the Rangers have a serious alternative at closer.

Who are the one or two players that everybody is overlooking in camp but have a chance to have a big spring? -- Paul F., Fort Worth

Right-hander Luke Farrell and outfielder Adolis García. Farrell missed most of last season with a fractured jaw and concussion symptoms, but he pitched as well as any Ranger in September, with a 2.70 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP. García, acquired from the Cardinals, hit 32 home runs at Triple-A last year and is a former star in the Cuba National Series. He is a right-handed-hitting outfielder with power, and there is no question the Rangers need someone like that.

Why isn’t Texas giving Scott Heineman serious consideration? I've seen nothing but great things from him. Plus, he plays center field and first base. -- Eric G., Arlington

Serious consideration? Right now, Heineman is a strong candidate to be the fourth outfielder and a right-handed alternative at first base. He should get serious consideration after 149 games combined in Triple-A the past two years, with a slash line of .307/.371/.463.

Do you see a way for Matt Duffy to make this team out of Spring Training, or is he just there in case of injury? -- Sandy K., Oklahoma City

Duffy is another guy who will get serious consideration. He was a shortstop in the Giants system and played third base for them in 2015, when he was second in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting behind Kris Bryant. Duffy has had some injuries the past few years, but if his offense shows up in Spring Training, he could play third base against lefties, with Todd Frazier shifting to first base to spell Ronald Guzmán.

What do you think the chances are for Eli White as a utility infielder? He seems to me to be more versatile than Isiah Kiner-Falefa, especially with his background as a shortstop. -- Jack G., Beaumont, Texas

White caught the Rangers' attention last summer at Triple-A Nashville, where he hit .364/.462/.545 in August, and the Rangers haven’t forgotten about him. White can play second, short and center field, which would be a valuable commodity for any team. The Rangers love versatile players, and they have a Spring Training roster full of utility candidates.

Heading to Spring Training for the first time this year. What is the best hike you recommend? -- Russell D., Austin

The young writers love climbing Camelback Mountain. A less-strenuous walk would be the White Tank Mountains that tower over Surprise to the west. There are plenty of trails to explore in one of the less-known gems of the Valley of the Sun.

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.