Calhoun not making roster decisions easy

March 14th, 2019

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers like everything outfielder has done to prepare himself for the season, but it may not be enough to get him on the Opening Day roster.

The Rangers have Hunter Pence as an extra outfielder, and there may be other roster needs that preclude Calhoun making the team.

“I hate to say it’s a numbers thing at times, but it is,” manager Chris Woodward said. “It creates a lot of issues trying to get him there, but I’m doing everything I can. You can’t guarantee anything. Just making the team is tough. There are a lot of guys competing for a limited number of spots.

“It’s a good problem for us to have as an organization, but it is hard on the players. They put their time and commitment in. Nobody has done it more than Willie. To say that I might have to send him down is a real thing. I’m not saying it’s going to happen or not. I don’t want to send him down. I don’t think anybody in the organization wants to do that. That would be one of the toughest conversations I’d have to have, but we all know the game.”

Daniels confident in catchers

General manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers won’t be looking for Major League catching help at the end of camp. The Rangers' plan going into camp was having Jeff Mathis as their No. 1 catcher and Isiah Kiner-Falefa as the backup, and that hasn’t changed

“Yes, I’m confident that it will be Mathis and Kiner,” Daniels said.

The Rangers still have veterans Jett Bandy and Tony Sanchez in camp on Minor League invites. At least one of those two will likely back up Jose Trevino at Triple-A Nashville.

Sampson impresses

Right-hander Adrian Sampson is emerging as the Rangers' best candidate for starting pitching depth at Nashville. Sampson threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings in the Rangers' 2-1 split-squad loss to the Cubs on Thursday and has a 2.00 ERA for the spring.

Sampson is unlikely to make the Opening Day rotation unless something unexpected comes up late in camp, but he has made a case to be the first guy called up during the season if there is a need.

“We definitely think highly of him,” Woodward said. “I’ve been impressed with his command of the baseball especially his slider. There are certain pitches that play really well. Obviously we have our five guys but he’s pretty much, I wouldn’t say next in line, I don’t know exactly where he would fit, but he’s really close.”

Lynn, Volquez sharp

Lance Lynn went five scoreless innings and threw 73 pitches for Nashville against Tacoma on Thursday, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out seven.

“Everything was working, really,” Lynn said. “I’d like to get a little better command of the curveball, but the cutter and changeup were good, four-seamer and sinker were where they need to be. [If I] just keep building off that and get the pitch count up, we will be good to go.”

Edinson Volquez pitched four innings and threw 58 pitches in his squad's 5-4 victory over the Royals on Thursday. He allowed two runs in the first after Calhoun lost a fly ball in the sun, but bounced back to pitch three scoreless innings.

Rangers beat

• Connor Sadzeck started the split-squad game against the Cubs and retired two of four batters. Woodward said Sadzeck is a candidate to be an “opener” out of the bullpen if the Rangers decide to employ the concept during the regular season.

• Jesse Chavez threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings pitching for Double-A Frisco against Arkansas on Thursday. He did not allow a hit, walked one and struck out four

• Zach McAllister picked up a save in the win over the Royals, but Minor League shortstop Anderson Tejeda prevented the tying run from scoring in the ninth with a diving stop on a grounder in the hole.

Up next

Right-hander Jason Hammel pitches against the Indians at 3:05 p.m. CT on Friday in Surprise. Hammel has made 298 Major League starts, the most of any pitcher in Rangers camp, but is trying to win the job as the long reliever.