SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers hired 55 new people for their baseball operations department this offseason, and pitching coach Julio Rangel may be right behind manager Chris Woodward in importance.This will be the first time Rangel has ever had a Major League job. Here are some frequently asked questions about
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers hired 55 new people for their baseball operations department this offseason, and pitching coach Julio Rangel may be right behind manager Chris Woodward in importance.
This will be the first time Rangel has ever had a Major League job. Here are some frequently asked questions about the new pitching coach.
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What is Rangel's pitching background?
Rangel signed with the Yankees at age 17 out of Panama, and he spent seven seasons in their Minor League system. From 1994-2000, he had a record of 33-24 with a 3.66 ERA, but he never went past the Double-A level.
Did Rangel know Mariano Rivera, who is also from Panama?
"I know Mariano really well," Rangel said. "When I got [to the Yankees organization] in '94, Mariano was three years ahead of me. There were nine of us from Panama, and we all used to train together. He's a good guy."
How did Rangel get into coaching?
After Rangel was done playing, he went to work selling window blinds so he could be home full time with his family in the Tampa area. Then he went into the banking business for four years while working on a degree in business administration. In 2007, the Indians offered Rangel a job as cultural development coordinator in the Minor Leagues, and his wife, Vanessa, encouraged him to take it. He served in various coordinator positions for the Tribe's farm system before becoming the Giants' Minor League pitching coordinator last year.
How does Rangel feel about having never been in the big leagues before?
"It's coaching," Rangel said. "Whether you are in Triple-A or Double-A, it's coaching. When you get to the big leagues, everything is magnified. People pay more attention, but if I started getting caught up in things that don't matter, it's going to make it hard for me, obviously. My job is to make those guys better and they are prepared when they go out there."
What is Rangel up against?
The Rangers had a 4.92 team ERA last year, third highest in the American League. They had the fewest strikeouts (1121) and gave up the second most home runs (222). Three of their five projected starting pitchers are coming off Tommy John surgery, and their bullpen has been almost completely rebuilt except for closer José Leclerc.
"Any job in the big leagues is a big challenge," Rangel said. "I know last year wasn't great, but there were some areas they did really well. It's not going to be an easy thing, but I think all those guys, they are up for any challenges and they are excited about being something great that we are trying to do here."
What does Rangel want out of his pitching staff?
"One of the things I am preaching to these guys is being prepared," Rangel said. "This is a staff that is going to be aggressive in the zone, attack the zone and challenge hitters, and use the information we have available to come up with the best plan and be prepared for every outing."
How does Rangel feel about the idea of using a reliever as an "opener" for the first 1-2 innings of a ballgame?
"I think it's a good idea," Rangel said. "If you look at the numbers -- and it depends on who you are facing -- but if the numbers say it makes sense, that's fine. It's something we can try out. Right now, [Woodward] and I are still talking about it. When it makes sense, we'll probably do it. When it doesn't make sense, we won't do it."
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.