How determined are the Rangers to move Matt Bush into the rotation? This seems like asking for trouble, since he was such a good reliever the past two years.
-- Lauren T., Oklahoma City, Okla.
There is no doubt the attempt to turn Bush into a starter is fraught with risk, given the increased workload he will have to carry. Recent Rangers history is a reminder of the risks. But the Rangers were successful in transitioning Christopher Wilson into a starter, and that may be the best case to study.
Wilson was driven to be a starter, and he was dedicated to the extreme in making it happen. After being used strictly as a reliever from 2006-09, Wilson became a starter in '10 and had no trouble doing it. He won 15 games and pitched 204 innings. The following year, that went up to 16 wins and 223 1/3 innings.
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Bush is showing that same drive and dedication this spring. There is no ambivalence about his desire to be a starter, and that may make the difference.
If Cole Hamels is opposed to the six-man rotation, does that mean the Rangers will junk the idea?
-- Steve G., Fort Worth, Texas
Nobody really knows how the pitching staff will be composed, nor how many will be in the rotation. The Rangers don't know if Bush and Mike Minor will be able to transition into starters, and they are still evaluating Bartolo Colon and Jesse Chavez, among others. There are too many variables, moving parts and games to be played in Spring Training. Too much time is being wasted on what the rotation will look like when the reality is that nobody can foresee where this is all headed.
Why did the Rangers give up on Brett Nicholas so quickly and designate him for assignment? That seems to be a really strange move this early in camp.
-- Paul F., Fort Worth
Yes, it is baffling the Rangers did that to a left-handed-hitting catcher with power who had been with the organization for nine years and was widely respected in the clubhouse. One Rangers official predicted that they will lose Nicholas to a waiver claim. But there may be a strategic side to this. By throwing Nicholas out there now, clubs may not yet be looking for catching help and won't put in a waiver claim this early in camp. The Rangers may be able to get him through waivers and assign him outright to Triple-A Round Rock.
Is Willie Calhoun a sure thing to be the left fielder, or is there legitimate competion?
-- Chris H., Arlington
There is competition. Drew Robinson and Ryan Rua are providing it. Calhoun is making a convincing case that he can hit, but he still needs to show he can handle the position defensively. What isn't known is how much he needs to hit to make up for his inexperience in left field. Robinson is a talented player who could easily push Calhoun for the job. Both are left-handed hitters, so the Rangers are well aware of the balance that Rua's right-handed bat could provide to their lineup.
Will Timothy Lincecum be the closer? This could be a great idea.
-- John M., Waco, Texas
To anoint Lincecum as the closer is a rush to judgement. He just arrived, did not pitch last year and was ineffective in 2016. The Rangers are going to need at least the remaining three weeks of Spring Training to make a proper evaluation of what is the best role for Lincecum.
Will Martin Perez (broken bone in his right elbow) be ready for Opening Day?
-- Jose G., Mexico City, Mexico
If Perez has to start the season on the disabled list, who is going to be the one to tell him?