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Mazara rested, ready to get back to work

Rangers outfielder faces third MLB season with renewed confidence
Special to MLB.com

FORT WORTH, Texas -- It was an enjoyable offseason for Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara -- at least for a little while.

Mazara went home to the Dominican Republic to rest up after his second Major League season. That meant no winter ball. The rest agreed with Mazara until it didn't.

FORT WORTH, Texas -- It was an enjoyable offseason for Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara -- at least for a little while.

Mazara went home to the Dominican Republic to rest up after his second Major League season. That meant no winter ball. The rest agreed with Mazara until it didn't.

"It's kind of good to go back home for like a month," said Mazara, who was at a Winter Caravan stop Sunday along with right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx. "But after that, you're laying your bed and thinking, 'Wow, I want to start playing again.' It's time to get going."

When Mazara and the Rangers get going, they won't be the favorites to win the American League West title. That honor will go to the reigning World Series-champion Astros. The Rangers also haven't made splashy deals this offseason like the Angels. Texas has focused on pitching, picking up starters Mike Minor, Matt Moore and Doug Fister.

Mazara likes what the club has done and the position it will be in this spring.

"No one is expecting much out of us," he said. "Just wait until they see us play. Everyone has a good team [in the AL West]. Everybody is hard to face. We've got one goal. We're going to go out there and give it what we got. The confidence we have is very [strong] right now."

One of the reasons the Rangers have confidence is because they have the 22-year-old Mazara in their lineup. He followed a solid rookie season in which he hit .266 with 20 home runs and 64 RBIs with a solid sophomore campaign. Although his batting average dipped to .253, he had another 20 homers and led the club with 101 RBIs, tied for ninth in the AL.

He is just the fifth Rangers player to reach the 100-RBI mark since 2007. He also became the third Texas player to have two 20-homer seasons by his age-22 season, joining Juan Gonzalez and Ruben Sierra.

Video: OAK@TEX: Mazara collects six RBIs vs. A's

Mazara is after more consistency in 2018. He batted just .228 against left-handers in 2017, and he batted .202 in June and .205 in July.

So it was overall a good season for Mazara, but not good enough for him.

"It was an OK season," he said. "There were a lot of ups and downs. At some points I was playing hurt, but I played through it. Hopefully this season I can stay healthy. It was a good season for a young guy like me, but from my side, I don't think it was that good. I could have done better. That's why I'm working so hard, because I know there's more that I can do."

So what has Mazara been working on?

"Everything," he said. "My plan is completely different. My mind is completely different. I know what I need to do now -- hitting, defense-wise, everything. This is going to be my third year in the big leagues. I know exactly what I need to work on now."

Anthony Andro is a contributor to MLB.com.

 

Texas Rangers, Nomar Mazara

Daniels: Texas' next acquisition likely a pitcher

GM says club won't rush into deal because Astros signed Cole
MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- General manager Jon Daniels did a question-and-answer session with Rangers broadcaster Matt Hicks at FanFest on Saturday, and most of the time was spent discussing pace of play.

When the session was opened up for a few questions from the audience, the subject was immediately changed. A fan wanted to know when Lorenzo Cain jerseys would be going on sale in the gift shops at Globe Life Park.

ARLINGTON -- General manager Jon Daniels did a question-and-answer session with Rangers broadcaster Matt Hicks at FanFest on Saturday, and most of the time was spent discussing pace of play.

When the session was opened up for a few questions from the audience, the subject was immediately changed. A fan wanted to know when Lorenzo Cain jerseys would be going on sale in the gift shops at Globe Life Park.

"If we signed him, probably shortly thereafter," Daniels said.

The Rangers are not planning on signing the free-agent center fielder, national rumors to the contrary, but there was no doubting the intent of the question. Fans want to know what's coming next for the Rangers.

"I said this, we want to play [Delino DeShields] in center field,' Daniels said. "Obviously Cain is a very good player, but I would figure if we would have another big expenditure, it would be on the pitching side."

Video: Rangers to focus on youth, depth signings

Now that was an attention-grabber since Yu Darvish is among the free agents still on the market, and every week he is tweeting about his latest dinner with a Rangers employee. Earlier this week it was with members of the clubhouse staff.

A reunion still seems unlikely, but Spring Training is still four weeks away.

"I have said all along it would be unlikely either way," Daniels said. "But [pitching] would be more of our focus."

The Rangers appear to be all but done with major acquisitions this offseason, but Daniels suggested in a private session with the media that's not necessarily the case.

"I don't think so," Daniels said. "I kind of feel any moment of time you feel, if tomorrow is Opening Day, here is what the club would look like. The reality is it's not, and the market, for whatever reason, has moved much slower than usual this winter.

"Because of the number of players still out there, not just free agents, but trades conversations going on throughout the league, I would expect between now and Opening Day, things will change somewhat. It's hard to forecast."

So stay tuned.

But Daniels said the Rangers aren't going to react or rush into anything just because the defending World Series champion Astros acquired right-hander Gerrit Cole from the Pirates this week.

"No, I mean, we recognized from the get-go whether they acquire Cole or not, they are a really good club," Daniels said. "Not just because of what they did last year, they are bringing back the whole crew and it is a relatively young group. They are going to be good. We're trying to be pretty disciplined with our plan and not react whether it is Houston or Anaheim or Seattle or Oakland."

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.

 

Texas Rangers

Lewis retires, will move to Rangers' front office

Banister, Andrus among other attendees at Awards Dinner
MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- Former pitcher Colby Lewis finally made it official at the Rangers' Awards Dinner on Friday night.

"I'm retired now," Lewis said, in receiving the Mark Holtz Alumni Award.

ARLINGTON -- Former pitcher Colby Lewis finally made it official at the Rangers' Awards Dinner on Friday night.

"I'm retired now," Lewis said, in receiving the Mark Holtz Alumni Award.

Lewis did not pitch in 2017, but he had never announced his retirement until now. Going forward, he will work for the Rangers as a special assistant to the general manager.

Other news and quotes from FanFest weekend:

• Rangers manager Jeff Banister was asked in his Q&A with the fans about the wisdom of giving reliever Matt Bush a chance to start. Texas has had mixed success with moving relievers into the rotation in the past. Both Neftali Feliz and Tanner Scheppers sustained significant injuries after making the switch.

"Your experience is what happened here," Banister said. "There are 29 other teams that have done this with premium success. We feel Matt has all the qualities to be a Major League starter."

Elvis Andrus on the Astros: "We are not intimidated. If we play good baseball, we can beat them We always play good baseball against them. That's not going to change."

Tweet from @Rangers: One legend & a future one. The 2017 Rangers Player of the Year Award - @ElvisandrusSS1. #RangersAwards pic.twitter.com/nNKjkNSBw2

• Pitcher Cole Hamels missed both the dinner on Friday and FanFest on Saturday because of a case of the flu.

Doug Fister on a potential pitch clock and MLB's desire to improve the pace of game: "There are some things we have to kind of take care of on the field. For me, honestly, I try to work as quick as I can. That's part of my strategic game, but also helps with my timing and stay locked in."

• General manager Jon Daniels and his staff are headed for the Dominican Republic for their annual winter visit on Sunday. The Rangers have approximately $3.5 million in international bonus slot money available, among the highest of any club. A name to watch is Julio Pablo Martinez, 21, a Cuban outfielder who is highly regarded but has yet to be cleared to sign with a Major League team.

• The Rangers have another giveaway planned in June to honor third baseman Adrian Beltre. One night they will give away drink coasters shaped like an on-deck circle. Beltre was ejected from a game last season for moving the on-deck circle closer to home plate when he was told to get back toward the dugout.

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.

 

Texas Rangers, Colby Lewis

Diekman honored for long road back

Reliever earns Richard Durrett Hardest Working Man Award after returning following three abdominal surgeries
MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- Jake Diekman returned from his Caribbean honeymoon with his wife, Amanda, in time to be at the Texas Rangers Dr Pepper Awards Banquet on Friday night. Diekman was honored as the 2017 winner of the Richard Durrett Hardest Working Man Award and enjoyed every minute of the banquet. Last year's awards dinner was an entirely different situation.

"A year ago, I was six days away from getting surgery," Diekman said. "I was super nervous. Now I'm not nervous at all, about anything. Nothing really bothers me anymore. I feel great. I just get to live now."

ARLINGTON -- Jake Diekman returned from his Caribbean honeymoon with his wife, Amanda, in time to be at the Texas Rangers Dr Pepper Awards Banquet on Friday night. Diekman was honored as the 2017 winner of the Richard Durrett Hardest Working Man Award and enjoyed every minute of the banquet. Last year's awards dinner was an entirely different situation.

"A year ago, I was six days away from getting surgery," Diekman said. "I was super nervous. Now I'm not nervous at all, about anything. Nothing really bothers me anymore. I feel great. I just get to live now."

That has not always been an easy thing to do for Diekman. He had been dealing with ulcerative colitis for most of his life and last year it reached a point where the pain and discomfort were intolerable.

Diekman elected to undergo treatment, which became an arduous odyssey involving three surgical procedures on his abdomen, removal of the colon and reconstruction of his digestive system.

The procedures were done in January, April and June and forced Diekman to miss the first five months of the season. He made a successful return in September and is now symptom-free. This offseason, Diekman was able to enjoy his honeymoon in Saint Lucia and prepare normally for a significant role in the Rangers' bullpen in 2018.

Video: LAA@TEX: Diekman solid in return to the mound

Diekman pitched in 11 games over the final month, allowing three runs in 10 2/3 innings. He walked 10, struck out 13 and averaged 94.8 miles per hour on his fastball. If the strength is there, the command should return.

"It kind of just told me I can do it still," Diekman said. "I had a different time frame in my head. I thought I would pitch before September. It didn't happen, but for the last month I felt really good. I felt like I kept getting stronger as the month went on.

"I have nothing to worry about. It stinks that I didn't play the first five months of the year, but I also got to watch a ton of baseball. I saw the game from a different perspective, which really opened my eyes. Just different situations on the mound."

The Rangers welcome him back. The exact composition of the Texas bullpen is still to be determined, but Diekman could be a candidate to close or return to a setup role. Either way, he will be a critical late-inning reliever for the Rangers.

"We missed him a ton," manager Jeff Banister said. "We missed him every single night last year. I know he was there with us at times, but just the presence to have the availability for him to pitch for us puts a lot of those guys back in spots they are more comfortable and more adept at pitching in."

Friday was the first time Banister had seen Diekman since the end of the season.

"He looks great," Banister said. "Looks like he put on some weight, looks strong."

Diekman, able to eat like a normal human being again, said he has put on 17 pounds since the end of the year.

"I tried a suit on today and it didn't fit," Diekman said. "I feel stronger than I ever have. Physically, I feel great."

The mental outlook is also the same -- and that may be most important award of all.

"I really have nothing to worry about, ever," Diekman said. "Even when I came back, nothing really bothered me on the mound any more. I want to do the best I can possibly do, but it's not life or death. Mentally and physically, I feel like I can go out and dominate."

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.

 

Texas Rangers, Jake Diekman

Perez predicts he'll be ready by Opening Day

Left-hander broke bone in right elbow during accident in Venezuela in December
MLB.com

DALLAS -- Rangers left-hander Martin Perez said he will be ready for Opening Day, despite breaking the radial bone in his right elbow in December.

The initial prognosis was Perez might miss the first month of the season while recovering from an accident at his ranch in Venezuela. Perez said that is not the case.

DALLAS -- Rangers left-hander Martin Perez said he will be ready for Opening Day, despite breaking the radial bone in his right elbow in December.

The initial prognosis was Perez might miss the first month of the season while recovering from an accident at his ranch in Venezuela. Perez said that is not the case.

"I am not going to miss any time," said Perez at the Rangers Awards Dinner on Friday night. "I have conviction I will be ready the first day."

So the big question is ...

"What happened?" Perez said. "I knew you guys were going to ask me that. I have horses and cows on my ranch. My guys were working with the cows and I was sitting on a fence. My brother said something and I looked back at him. Then I heard, 'Watch out!' and I turned and a bull was coming at me. I fell. I was trying to fall on my feet and I landed on my elbow."

The accident occurred on Dec. 11. Perez flew back to Texas and had an operation on Dec. 18. The Rangers announced at the time that Perez could be sidelined for four months.

But Perez has already started throwing and expects to be throwing off a mound by the end of the month.

"Right now I feel good," Perez said. "This week I have been working out [in Arlington] and it is feeling better every day. I will be ready to go."

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.

 

Texas Rangers, Martin Perez

Q&A: Beltre talks accomplishments, goals

MLB.com

Next week, Vladimir Guerrero could become the third native of the Dominican Republic to be elected to the Hall of Fame, joining Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez. Chipper Jones seems a virtual lock to become the 17th third baseman honored in Cooperstown.

Adrian Beltre, meanwhile, is getting ready for the start of his 21st big league season as he heads into the final year of his contract with the Rangers, putting the finishing touches on a career that would seem to eventually add him to the list of Dominicans and third basemen in the Hall of Fame.

Next week, Vladimir Guerrero could become the third native of the Dominican Republic to be elected to the Hall of Fame, joining Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez. Chipper Jones seems a virtual lock to become the 17th third baseman honored in Cooperstown.

Adrian Beltre, meanwhile, is getting ready for the start of his 21st big league season as he heads into the final year of his contract with the Rangers, putting the finishing touches on a career that would seem to eventually add him to the list of Dominicans and third basemen in the Hall of Fame.

A four-time All-Star, Beltre has earned four Silver Slugger Awards and five Gold Glove Awards. He talked about the impact of his accomplishments in this week's chat:

MLB.com: When you reached 3,000 hits, Hall of Famer Wade Boggs said, "That means Cooperstown." Did you think about that?

Beltre: It is a big accomplishment, and I am very proud of what I have done. But I don't want to get caught up in the Hall of Fame. We will see when I get to that point.

MLB.com: Baseball seems to be a part of the nation's fabric in the Dominican Republic.

Beltre: It is the No. 1 sport in the Dominican. Dominican people have breaks -- lunch and dinner -- and talk baseball. They are very supportive of our players. We have a bunch of great players and soon-to-be Hall of Famers. Vladdy is probably going to get in. Big Papi's going to be in soon. For me to be one of those guys who [others] can look up to and be proud of would be very special. You would like to think you have played the game and lived in a way that your country can be proud of you because you represent them.

MLB.com: I remember talking to Nolan Ryan when you were a potential free agent and he was the president of the Rangers. He said it was imperative to re-sign you because you were such a factor in the success of the team.

Beltre: That is nice coming from Nolan, who I have so much respect for. I'm honored that he felt that way, and I am glad he did, because [Texas] was the right place for me. We accomplished a lot.

MLB.com: You are considered a leader. Is that something you try to be?

Beltre: It's not a conscious effort. You want to be sure your team is doing the right things and doing what needs to be done to be prepared for the game. It is a feeling that nobody is better than anybody else. We are all working together.

MLB.com: Your accomplishments seem to be so complete. Anything missing?

Beltre: A World Series. To me, I have had a decent career, accomplished a couple things. I have made good money. I enjoy this game. But I want to be a champion. That's what drives me every day. I want to win the World Series. It's not easy to get there. I have been there, but I haven't come out on top.

MLB.com: The Rangers did come close in 2011 when you lost to St. Louis in Game 7.

Beltre: Really close, but it's a sour situation whenever you think about it. I tell the young guys, "You might be OK to make the World Series, but to me, that's not enough." My window is closing. If I win a World Series, it would make it a lot easier for me to hang it up and go home and be with my kids. For me, it's difficult to go home, because I haven't earned that ring. If you like the game and you are good enough to compete and contribute to the ballclub, why go home? I understand if your body is not well enough or you're not producing and helping the team, but if you are contributing and feel good, why go home?

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.

 

Texas Rangers, Adrian Beltre

No. 8 1B prospect Guzman eyeing Major role

Rangers' up-and-comer, 23, lands in Top 10 at his position for third consecutive year
MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- First baseman Ronald Guzman will be at the Dr. Pepper Texas Rangers Awards Dinner on Friday night to accept the Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year Award.

He has also been ranked as the eighth-best first-base prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline.

ARLINGTON -- First baseman Ronald Guzman will be at the Dr. Pepper Texas Rangers Awards Dinner on Friday night to accept the Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year Award.

He has also been ranked as the eighth-best first-base prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

The honors come after Guzman, 23, played in 125 games at Triple-A Round Rock last season and hit .298 with 12 home runs, 62 RBIs and an .806 OPS. Guzman has been ranked among the Rangers' top prospects since receiving a $3.5 million signing bonus out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, and this is his third consecutive year on the Top 10 list for first-base prospects.

Now, he has positioned himself on the verge of being a Major League player.

"I am just doing what I have always been doing," Guzman said. "I have to be consistent and put in good at-bats. Defensively, I feel good. I just have to show I can be more consistent with my at-bats."

This year, Guzman will be in Major League camp for the second consecutive spring, and he will be one of the most physically impressive players in the Rangers' clubhouse. At 6-foot-5 and somewhere around 225 pounds, Guzman exudes strength and power.

Video: Guzman named the Rangers' Pipeline hitter of the year

From that standpoint, he fits right in with Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara. But the sheer power has yet to transform itself onto the field. Over six Minor League seasons, Guzman has yet to hit more than 16 home runs or finish with higher than a .449 slugging percentage in a single season.

The Rangers are willing to be patient.

"I am a line-drive hitter," Guzman said. "The power will come, so I am staying with that."

He also only plays first base. That can be tricky on a ballclub that emphasizes versatility with young players.

Video: LAA@TEX: Guzman hits a three-run homer to left-center

"When you only play one spot, it is a bit of a challenge," general manager Jon Daniels said. "If we choose to play Joey at first base, barring an injury, it's a little bit less of a clear path for him."

Yet, Guzman had to be on the list when the Rangers talked repeatedly about giving opportunities to young players. Gallo may present a roadblock for him, but it is not insurmountable.

Gallo can also play third base and left field. If Guzman comes to Spring Training and starts drawing attention with his offensive potential, it could change the Rangers' thinking. With Gallo being able to move around, the last open spot in the Rangers' lineup could be determined by which young player has the best spring.

It could be Willie Calhoun in left field, or Drew Robinson or Ryan Rua at multiple positions, or Guzman at first. The bottom line is, there will be a spot in the Rangers' lineup for any young player who is productive at the plate, and that's where they stand with Guzman.

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.

 

Texas Rangers, Ronald Guzman

Beltre to miss Fan Fest due to prior engagement

Club allowed third baseman to make family vacation plans; relationship remains unchanged
MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre will not be attending the team's Dr Pepper Awards Dinner on Friday night in Dallas or Fan Fest on Saturday at Globe Life Park.

According to the Rangers, Beltre was given permission to miss both events.

ARLINGTON -- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre will not be attending the team's Dr Pepper Awards Dinner on Friday night in Dallas or Fan Fest on Saturday at Globe Life Park.

According to the Rangers, Beltre was given permission to miss both events.

Beltre attended last year's Awards Dinner and Fan Fest to receive the Rangers Player of the Year Award and his Gold Glove Award, but doing so disrupted a planned family vacation. So Texas agreed that Beltre would not have to attend the event this year, allowing him to make other family plans. Beltre is the 2017 winner of the Harold McKinney Good Guy Award, but the Rangers have known for almost a year that he would not attend the dinner.

Beltre will be with the Rangers in Spring Training, club officials said.

General manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers' relationship with Beltre has not changed. Beltre, 38, has made it clear that his desire is to play for a contending team and win a World Series before he retires.

The Rangers have made it clear they expect to have a contending team in 2018. But they also admit they are not going "all-in" with their offseason moves, preferring to conserve their financial resources, not trade their top prospects for immediate help and give young players an opportunity.

Daniels has discussed the situation with Beltre.

"I spoke to Adrian a week or two ago," Daniels said. "He is a competitor. Whether he was 25 years old or 45 years old, he cares about this year, this club. That's what you want, that mindset. I think that helps focus and drive the rest of the guys in the clubhouse.

"Adrian and I had a candid conversation at the end of last year, and he understood: we're not going to be at the top of the free-agent market. What he said was, 'Hey, I want to know we've got a chance going into Spring Training.'"

The Rangers appear to be done making major moves for the offseason, even though pitcher Yu Darvish remains a free agent. There is a possibility Darvish may not sign anytime soon, but he is unlikely to return to Texas unless there is a drastic change in circumstances.

"I think if [Beltre] was GM, he probably would have made some different moves this offseason," Daniels said. "He probably would have addressed some different things on the club. I respect that, but I don't feel any different than I did at the end of the year: we're going to go into Spring Training with a chance."

Beltre is entering his 21st season in the Major Leagues and is unsigned beyond 2018. His Hall of Fame resume includes 3,048 hits, which ranks 26th all time. He is 35th all time with 462 home runs and 31st with 1,642 RBIs.

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.

 

Texas Rangers, Adrian Beltre

Fister glad to sign contract early, autographs now

Starter joined Rangers in November, avoiding slow-moving free-agent market
MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Doug Fister was at Kroger in north Arlington on Thursday signing autographs.

He was not at home in Merced, Calif., waiting for the phone to ring like so many other free agents this winter. That has to be a big relief during a winter when the free-agent market has moved far slower than anybody expected.

ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Doug Fister was at Kroger in north Arlington on Thursday signing autographs.

He was not at home in Merced, Calif., waiting for the phone to ring like so many other free agents this winter. That has to be a big relief during a winter when the free-agent market has moved far slower than anybody expected.

"Absolutely," Fister said. "That's one of the things … everybody has said since the day we got the phone call. That's a big thing for me. It has allowed me to go to work and not worry about the other business, put in some hard work and time with my trainer and playing catch with my dad every day. Those things have helped me start to get ready and ramp it up."

Fister signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Rangers on Nov. 28. Only nine other starting pitchers have signed for a greater amount. Fister was a free agent last winter and didn't sign until late May.

Video: Rangers sign Fister to a one-year deal

Now, there are 30 or more starting pitchers still available, including Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta.

"I don't think anybody knew this, and that is a tough one," Fister said. "It's really hard, after going through it last year and not being picked up until [May]. It's a hard time to sit and wait and stay ready and be at the top of their game. I definitely feel for the guys. Hopefully things will start rolling for them."

The Rangers needed to acquire three starting pitchers this winter, and they moved quickly. Fister and Mike Minor were signed as free agents, and Matt Moore was acquired from the Giants before the new year. They are expected to join Cole Hamels and Martin Perez in the Rangers' rotation, with Matt Bush as another possibility.

Of course, Rangers fans are well aware that Darvish and other big names are still out there.

"There is a reason for the big boys, and that's what they do," Fister said. "They have proven themselves. At the same time, there is always somebody up and coming, doing the small things and getting the outs. Sometimes, it's not a flashy radar gun or something spectacular, but it's a matter of routine and going out getting outs. That's what the pitchers on our pitching staff have shown to do."

Video: TOR@BOS: Fister fans nine, allows one in seven frames

Fister has been considered a "big boy" before, despite going 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA for the Red Sox last season. He was a 16-game winner for the Nationals in 2014 and has nine postseason starts on his resume.

The Rangers are counting heavily on a comeback season from him. They have the same hopes for Moore, who was 6-15 with a 5.52 ERA for the Giants last season. He was a 17-game winner for the Rays in 2013 and won 13 in 2016, his first full season since returning from Tommy John surgery.

Moore is only 28, and the Rangers are counting on the ability still being there.

"Yeah, absolutely. I don't feel any different than I have in the past," Moore said. "Last year at times it was there, and at times it wound up being a tough game. I still believe in myself as much as I ever have. Going into the season with a new club and new energy, I think it's a great opportunity. I am excited about it, especially after last season there wasn't much to be excited about."

Video: COL@SF: Moore whiffs six over six-plus shutout frames

Moore joined Fister in signing autographs on Thursday. They will both be at FanFest on Saturday at Globe Life Park. They have settled into their offseason workout routines and are well on their way toward being ready for Spring Training.

It's better than being home waiting for the phone to ring.

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.

 

Texas Rangers, Doug Fister, Matt Moore

DeShields prepared to do what it takes

Speedy outfielder uses offseason work to up his defensive game
MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- There was a brief flurry of rumors earlier this month that the Rangers might be increasing their efforts to sign free-agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain. It appears there was nothing to the rumors, but it is accurate to say the Rangers would be open to upgrading defensively in center field.

Delino DeShields has heard the rumors.

ARLINGTON -- There was a brief flurry of rumors earlier this month that the Rangers might be increasing their efforts to sign free-agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain. It appears there was nothing to the rumors, but it is accurate to say the Rangers would be open to upgrading defensively in center field.

Delino DeShields has heard the rumors.

"If they feel they can bring in somebody that can help us defensively, OK," DeShields said. "All I want to do is win and be plugged into the lineup every day, whether it is left field or center field. I feel really comfortable playing center field. But if they need me to play left field and bring somebody in to play center, that's fine, too."

Video: DeShields on being important member of Rangers team

Right now, DeShields is the Rangers' center fielder. The potential to upgrade in center doesn't seem to be there, whether it's because the Rangers don't want to spend the money, trade young players or are sincerely determined to give their young players an opportunity.

"We have some guys on the club who are going to be at different levels of commitment to the organization," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We have intentionally not brought in the potentially one-year stop-gap guys to be in front of Drew Robinson, Ryan Rua or Delino DeShields, guys of that nature. These guys have had opportunities, but we really haven't committed to them. We are at the point where we believe in these guys and their talent level, and we want to see that through."

Hot Stove Tracker

Offensively, DeShields showed last season he can be a force at the top of the lineup once he started playing regularly.

DeShields was the Rangers' leadoff hitter for 80 games last year, and hit .260 with a .350 on-base percentage, 63 runs scored and 22 stolen bases. Double that over a full season and it represents impressive numbers for a leadoff hitter.

The question is defense.

According to defensive metrics tracked by Statcast™ in 2017, DeShields should have caught 86 percent of the balls hit in his direction based on their difficulty. He actually caught 88 percent, making him a plus-two in catch percentage added. Byron Buxton, the Twins' supremely talented center fielder, was a plus-six. Cain was a plus-four for the Royals.

Overall defensive range (plus-four) and ultimate zone ratings (plus-seven) place DeShields in good, but not elite, category.

The deduction is DeShields is slightly above average, mainly because of his tremendous speed. His sprint speed of 29.6 feet per second makes him the sixth-fastest player in baseball. But he can be better with improved jumps and route efficiency.

Video: HOU@TEX: DeShields circles bases in 15.05 seconds

DeShields understands the need for improvement, and has tailored his offseason workouts in that direction.

"I did a lot of work on my explosiveness, helping me with my first step," DeShields said. "Changing directions with my efficiency. I haven't done anything with defensive drills, but I am going to Arizona really early and doing some stuff to help with my routes. It's about putting my game together, and building off last year."

DeShields had an impressive offseason last winter after losing his center field job to Carlos Gomez late in the 2016 season. When the Rangers re-signed Gomez in the winter, it appeared DeShields was destined for a backup role.

With the help of his father, former Major League second baseman Delino DeShields, he rededicated himself to regaining the athleticism and explosiveness that made him an attractive top-of-the-lineup hitter.

The Rangers are waiting to see if this offseason produces the same results defensively.

"It has been good so far," DeShields said. "I started really early to get prepared for the next season. I probably took a week off and started to get my body ready to hopefully play 162 games. I have been staying here getting ready with the guys. Can't wait for Spring Training."

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.

 

Texas Rangers, Delino DeShields

Rangers ink Casali to Minor League deal

Team also re-signs Cardona, Scott
MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers on Thursday signed catcher Curt Casali to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

They have also re-signed outfielder Jose Cardona and right-handed pitcher Tayler Scott to Minor League contracts with a big league invite.

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers on Thursday signed catcher Curt Casali to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

They have also re-signed outfielder Jose Cardona and right-handed pitcher Tayler Scott to Minor League contracts with a big league invite.

Casali has spent parts of the past four seasons with the Rays, with a career batting average of .199, 19 home runs and 49 RBIs. He has a .285 on-base percentage and a .385 slugging percentage in 161 games (466 plate appearances).

Casali is the sixth catcher on the Rangers' Spring Training roster, along with Robinson Chirinos, Brett Nicholas, Juan Centeno, Jose Trevino and Mike Ohlman.

Cardona was a Minor League free agent who spent last season at Double-A Frisco, hitting .277 with seven home runs, 47 RBIs and a .385 slugging percentage. Scott, who was acquired from the Brewers in a trade for reliever Jeremy Jeffress, pitched in 12 games at Triple-A Round Rock, and was 0-1 with a 7.62 ERA.

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.

 

Texas Rangers, Curt Casali

Alert gives Hamels brief scare on Hawaii trip

MLB.com

DALLAS -- Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels was expecting a relaxing vacation with his family in Hawaii last weekend. But he certainly wasn't expecting to deal with a ballistic missile scare.

That's what happened while Hamels was sleeping in his hotel room on Saturday morning. Everybody in Hawaii received the warning on their cell phone that a ballistic missile was headed their way.

DALLAS -- Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels was expecting a relaxing vacation with his family in Hawaii last weekend. But he certainly wasn't expecting to deal with a ballistic missile scare.

That's what happened while Hamels was sleeping in his hotel room on Saturday morning. Everybody in Hawaii received the warning on their cell phone that a ballistic missile was headed their way.

"That's what woke me up, and I was like, 'What?' " Hamels said. "That's the whole thing -- there's nothing you can do about it. After about 20 minutes, we were like, 'Hmm.'"

Hamels and his wife, Heidi, stayed in their room and did not tell their children. Their resort was not in Honolulu, and Hamels figured they were safe. He thought if there really was a missile, it would be headed there.

That didn't make it any easier.

"We would've been dead in three seconds, so I'm like, after 20 minutes ... that's the whole thing," Hamels said. "I can't do anything about it. That was one of the strangest things I've ever seen."

The missile scare lasted 38 minutes before the emergency alert system confirmed it was a false alarm. The Hamels family went back to enjoying their annual vacation.

Tweet from @ColeHamels: What is a good 5K time? First official one in Maui today with the family! Heidi is the veteran here. pic.twitter.com/SPx4peqF9e

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.

 

Texas Rangers, Cole Hamels

Rangers to partner with Buckner International

Company centered around Family Hope Centers, community programs
MLB.com

DALLAS -- The Rangers have nine days of full-squad workouts in Spring Training before their first Cactus League game.

Instead of going to Arizona, they could easily get their work done at the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy in West Dallas.

DALLAS -- The Rangers have nine days of full-squad workouts in Spring Training before their first Cactus League game.

Instead of going to Arizona, they could easily get their work done at the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy in West Dallas.

"I agree," Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels said. "Just the way this has turned out has blown our minds. We know it is going to reach a lot of individuals. Just to see the baseball side of it really blows you away. I think this will probably provide a lot of us who live in the area in the future to come in and the kids can come see us work out. "

Hamels made a significant contribution to the academy. The Hamels Foundation is providing the support for a variety of educational programs in the four classrooms.

The academy, at the Mercy Street Sports Complex, continues to grow as the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation announced Wednesday a new partnership with Buckner International. Founded in 1879, Buckner International serves the community through a number of programs designed to protect children and build strong families.

Those programs include the Buckner Family Hope Centers. Buckner will operate a satellite branch at the academy. Buckner currently operates 26 Family Hope Centers in Texas and six countries, and their work at the academy will be designed to help the children who use the facilities.

"There are opportunities to expand their vision and their experiences broader than just the field of baseball," said Dr. Ken Hall, who is on the Buckner board of directors. "One of the visions of this initiative was to be able to reach into families in this community, especially as it relates to children, in a more distinct way and seek to find a way to make a huge difference in the lives of boys and girls who come through here, to help them with all the other kinds of empowerment opportunities offered here."

Dr. Albert Reyes, the CEO of Buckner International, said the simple idea of playing a game of catch illustrates how baseball can bring families together.

"Baseball has a way of bringing people together like nothing else on the planet," Reyes said. "That is at the core of what we are doing. We will be using the idea of baseball as a way of strengthening families. Because it's around baseball that folks come together naturally."

The academy, which had its official ribbon-cutting ceremomy in December, has already had more than 3,000 student athletes work out at the facility. Members of the Pinkston High School baseball and Sunset High School softball teams were among those at the announcement on Wednesday.

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.

 

Texas Rangers, Cole Hamels