Notes: Gibson works on developing cutter

March 2nd, 2021

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- -- the presumed Opening Day starter for the Rangers -- added another pitch to his arsenal this offseason: a cutter.

Gibson already had five pitches according to Baseball Savant and threw eight to 10 cutters in the Rangers' Spring Training game against the Giants on Monday. The game finished 1-1 after six innings. Under MLB’s 2021 Operations Manual, games up to March 13 can be shortened if both managers agree in advance.

Gibson started the game and pitched one inning. He allowed a walk and single to open the frame before inducing a double play and another groundout to end the inning without allowing any runs. Manager Chris Woodward said he was pleased that Gibson’s velocity was up to about 95 mph in his inning.

Woodward said there were more left-handed hitters in the lineup Monday, so Gibson went into the game wanting to throw more cutters to further develop and tune up the pitch. Gibson told catcher Jose Trevino that if Gibson shook off a call, to go with a cutter because he “probably wanted to throw that.”

“That was my mindset today,” Gibson said. “I really wanted to see how the hitters reacted to it. I didn't care if I threw three or four in a row, didn't care if the same hitter saw it as many times as possible. I wanted to kind of see how it was going to work off a few pitches.”

Woodward remembers Gibson throwing a few cutters for the first time when the Rangers faced the Angels in Anaheim last season, which Gibson said he did without planning it. Gibson talked to former Rangers and current White Sox pitcher Lance Lynn about his cutter and how to utilize it in a game setting but is still trying to figure out how to fit in the cutter with the rest of his pitch arsenal through the spring.

Gibson added that he and Trevino have a good relationship and that added to him feeing comfortable throwing new pitches. He emphasized that Trevino’s attention to detail and all the little nuances of each pitcher make him a great asset behind the plate.

“We talked about the sign for a cutter because I've never thrown a cutter, so we tried to figure out what sign was going to work best,” Gibson said. “For him behind the plate and myself as well, he really does a job that's specific to the pitcher. He's very attentive on those things.”

Culberson’s day at the plate

Offseason acquisition Charlie Culberson made sure the Rangers staff knew who he was Monday, going 2-for-2 with two singles and a run scored. The utility infielder was signed to a Minor League deal this offseason and has been one of many in the Rangers' third-base competition this spring.

Woodward knows Culberson from when Woodward was the Dodgers' third-base coach from 2015-18 and Culberson was with them in 2016-17. Woodward said they’ve kept in touch and he’s seen Culberson’s consistency grow in recent years.

Woodward said Culberson has worked really hard on his swing and that showed in Monday's game. In his first at-bat, he drove a first-pitch fastball up the middle, while in the second he hit a 96 mph fastball in the top of the zone for another single.

“His swing just hasn't had the consistency and maybe the opportunity in the big leagues,” Woodward said. “In Atlanta he actually did really well. But I think there's a lot in there and he's really made some strides to make some adjustments, and it's cool to see him get some success right away.”

Spring Training TV schedule announced

Fox Sports Southwest announced Monday afternoon what Rangers games will be televised following a holdup with the NBA second-half schedule release.

Six games will be televised, starting with Wednesday's matchup with the Angels in Tempe. The first two games will be done by the opposing teams’ production crews, while the last four will be FSSW’s regular team of Dave Raymond, C.J. Nitkowski and Emily Jones.

• Wednesday at Los Angeles Angels in Tempe, 2 p.m. CT
• Sat., March 13 at Milwaukee Brewers in Phoenix, 2 p.m. CT
• Sun., March 21 at Cleveland Indians in Goodyear, 3 p.m. CT
• Tue., March 23 vs Los Angeles Angels in Surprise, 3 p.m. CT
• Sun., March 28 vs Chicago Cubs in Surprise, 2 p.m. CT
• Tue., March 30 vs Milwaukee Brewers at Globe Life Field, 1 p.m. CT