March 2006

THE NEWBERG REPORT — MARCH 13, 2006

The pilot sort of ruined the thrill of our descent by announcing that we’d be greeted by a mid-afternoon temperature of 49 degrees, which I suppose shouldn’t have come as a surprise given the snow-capped scenery fringing the Phoenix area.

My baseball season was set to get underway, but it sure didn’t feel that way. Sort of a depressing start.

But not for long. I stood at the baggage carousel, along with 200 others awaiting the bags we’d entrusted to the airline. The conveyor ramp began to descend.

And there was my bag, the second onto the carousel, as if to make up for all those times over the years that I stood in baggage claim with two or three other straggling passengers wondering if our bags even made the same trip we did.

At that point I didn’t notice those 49 degrees. Baseball time.

Next stop: the rental car garage, where my internal gloating over getting Bag No. 2 was swiftly punished. I won’t say the rent car company wasn’t Trying Hard, but they managed to designate a car for me that was extremely difficult to drive out of the garage, considering the parking space it was assigned to was, um, empty.

The time it took to get that cleared up cost me any chance of seeing the end of Sunday’s Ranger game in Peoria.

I did, however, get the chance later in the day to interact with two members of the Rangers family. In fact, I’d call them the oldest member of the Rangers family (in my consciousness, at least) and the newest member of the Rangers family.

Jim Sundberg was my first favorite baseball player.

I know who three-week-old Jack Gordon Teixeira’s favorite baseball player is.

I did watch the jaw-dropping season premiere of "The Sopranos" last night. I wish I’d seen the spotless spring premieres of C.J. Wilson and Armando Galarraga during the day, in a "B" game against Kansas City. Or the jaw-dropping two-homer, one-double, five-RBI game Jason Botts had in the same game. Can’t TiVo those.

But it’s a new day, and I’ve got my rent car, a full tank of gas, a notepad and a pen. And a sweatshirt. Life is good.

Off to watch Kevin Millwood pitch.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — MARCH 12, 2006

Four arrivals in Rangers minor league camp today.

Infielder Aarom Baldiris, who was optioned late yesterday afternoon to Frisco.

Outfielder Ruddy Yan and catcher Mike Nickeas, who were reassigned to the minor league side after spending a few weeks in big league camp on non-roster invites.

And me.

As is my habit, I may spend hardly any more time in the big league park in Surprise this week than Baldiris or Yan or Nickeas. I’ll be on the minor league fields most of the time, bouncing from one chain-link fence to another, watching bullpens and defensive drills and B.P.

It’s still all about the big club for me, but I’ll see plenty of Kevin Mench and Vicente Padilla and Gerald Laird in Arlington. Now’s the time to see the players who won’t show up on television in 2006, and probably won’t even find much print this year outside of Mike Hindman’s reports and mine. Admittedly, some of those guys are still in big league camp, and the time I do spend at Billy Parker Field will probably be hand-picked to see some of the players fighting for a roster spot or at least a place in the plans.

The last two years Mike and I came back from Surprise writing about, among others, an anonymous infielder named Ian Kinsler who, in the space of a few days of observation, proved to be a "revelation"; the stunning reemergence of off-the-radar southpaw C.J. Wilson (will he prove to be Orel Hershiser’s greatest bullet point in Texas?); and the eyebrow-raising show put on in drills by undrafted free agent Kevin Mahar.

I head into my spring training trips without much of an agenda. Peripheral vision and a flexible schedule are critical. Never know what, or who, will make an impression.

That said, 20 things I’d like to see in camp:

1. John Danks — though I recognize that I’d better make plans to see the big club play if I want to see the 20-year-old this week.

2. Juan Dominguez pitching after relinquishing the driver’s seat, and Josh Rupe pitching as a frontrunner.

3. The bullpen dynamic with Dom Chiti in uniform.

4. Minor league catcher drills.

5. Johnny Lujan.

6. Vincent Sinisi, coming off a healthy off-season and some impressive moments in the World Baseball Classic.

7. Fabio Castro and Jesse Carlson.

8. Scott Servais doing his thing. The rave reviews are unanimous.

9. Joaquin Arias doing his thing. I’m not so sure this won’t be my last chance to see him in a Ranger uniform, so I’ll take every chance I can get to watch those filthy defensive skills. The fluid quickness, the unbelievable exchange, the cannon arm, and how easy he makes it all look.

10. How different Eric Hurley and Michael Schlact look from a year ago, the first spring training for the righthanders.

11. Johnny Whittleman — whose first spring training didn’t officially start until after he’d already gotten a couple game appearances with the big club.

12. John Mayberry Jr. participating fully, I hope.

13. Three teenagers who could form the core of a phenomenal Clinton rotation: Zach Phillips, Michael Kirkman, and Omar Poveda. Matt Nevarez, too, but I’d say it’s unlikely he breaks with the LumberKings.

14. R.J. Anderson in center field, and from the left side.

15. Eighteen-year-old Venezuelan third baseman-outfielder Jose Rodriguez.

16. At least three or four more decent restaurants, and at least one more lane on Bell Road. (Not counting on the latter.)

17. The 17-year-old trio of Fabio Castillo, Johan Yan, and Cristian Santana.

18. I think I already mentioned Johnny Lujan. Don’t care. I’m mentioning him again.

19. Micah Furtado, back in uniform.

20. No more rain. I can live with having to pack a sweatshirt, but after Surprise got its first rain in 143 days yesterday, forcing only the second rainout since Texas opened its spring training complex in 2003, I’m pulling for the start of another dry spell, if it’s all the same to you.

The third installment of Schlact’s spring training diary and the transcript of our chat session with Baseball Prospectus’s Kevin Goldstein are now posted on Eleanor Czajka’s Minor Details page at www.NewbergReport.com.

Tom Hicks has announced that the Rangers will honor the 2005 NCAA Football Champion Texas Longhorns on Opening Day. Mack Brown will throw out the first pitch. Darrell Royal will coach him. And Roger Clemens is invited, too.

Jordan Danks, hitting .317 for the UT baseball team as a freshman, dislocated a finger diving back into first base on Tuesday. He’s day to day.

Washington assigned non-roster invites Ruben Mateo and Mike Bacsik to minor league camp. Tampa Bay sent Bart Miadich back to minor league camp, too.

Former Ranger Doug Brocail had emergency heart surgery yesterday after doctors discovered "a 99 percent blockage" of one of his coronary arteries. Brocail came out of the procedure relatively well, though doctors refused to speculate whether the 38-year-old righthander will ever pitch again. Scary.

Rudy Jaramillo’s prostate cancer surgery is scheduled for March 28 at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Vernon Wells tells Kat O’Brien of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he and his best friend, Michael Young, will be teammates one day: "It’s just a matter of time when that will happen."

Wells’s current deal with Toronto expires after the 2007 season. So does the guaranteed portion of Young’s Texas deal, but the Rangers are sure to pick up the 2008 option if they haven’t extended Young for life beforehand.

No, righthander Erik Thompson did not show up at a couple big league Ranger games as a "just in case" this week. Despite what you might have read, it was actually Travis Thompson, a 28-year-old righthander who has pitched in the Cincinnati, Toronto, Cleveland, and Philadelphia systems.

The next report will come to you from soggy, chilly, exquisite Surprise, Arizona.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — MARCH 9, 2006

Today Texas plays host to:

1. Scott Elarton and the Royals in the afternoon.

2. Akinori Otsuka’s Team Japan in the evening.

3. Roger Clemens in the morning.

Surprise. Surprise. Surprise.

Yes, Adam Eaton will face Kansas City. R.A. Dickey will take on the Japanese squad. C.J. Wilson and Francisco Cordero will pitch in a simulated game.

But no matter how slim you believe the chances are that Clemens will pitch this year, and that if he does it will be with Texas, you have to admit that he’s the story today. Michael Young and Mark Teixeira are reportedly going to accompany their Team USA teammate, who plans to visit with other Ranger players and meet with club officials during a couple-hour stay in Surprise.

Clemens already met with Tom Hicks, Jon Daniels, Buck Showalter, and Mark Connor a month ago, at his Houston, according to several reports. So what’s the agenda now?

Only Clemens knows, you get the sense.

(N.B.: Of the four he’s reportedly considering, Texas is the only one that trains in Arizona, where Team USA is currently playing.)

Kevin Millwood threw 47 pitches in a simulated game yesterday, all fastballs and changeups, and 36 were strikes.

Edison Volquez, by all accounts, was sensational in his three shutout innings against Oakland yesterday. Facing a lineup heavy with lefthanders and the wind blowing out to right, he gave up one hit (an infield single), walked one, and fanned two, breaking several bats.

Antonio Alfonseca, who struggled yesterday in relief of Volquez (giving up three runs on two hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning — while the only other base hit the A’s managed all day was the infield single off Volquez), can elect immediate free agency if he’s not added to the 40-man roster by March 29.

Lefthander Kevin Walker was the most impressive of the five relievers to support Volquez, punching out four (three swinging) in two perfect frames. The 29-year-old Grand Prairie product has allowed one spring hit in four scoreless innings, fanning six and walking none.

With Teixeira and Erubiel Durazo away at the World Baseball Classic and Phil Nevin getting the call at DH for the day, Jason Botts got a surprise start at first base yesterday, doubling off Joe Blanton in three trips. He’s hitting .353/.450/.588 in 17 at-bats.

Hank Blalock returned to third base yesterday after leaving the glove in the clubhouse for a few days.

Three baserunners have tried to steal with Gerald Laird behind the plate. None have succeeded.

Outfielder Ruddy Yan evidently pulled a muscle under his arm while leaning on a dugout rail yesterday. Seriously.

Vincent Sinisi, batting fifth (behind Mike Piazza), homered off Australia righthander Rich Thompson (an Angels farmhand) in Italy’s 10-0 win in WBC action on Tuesday. Marc LaMacchia gave up one hit in a scoreless sixth yesterday against Venezuela, who had more big league All-Stars in its lineup than not. Ten of LaMacchia’s 13 pitches went for strikes.

Congratulations to Eric Nadel, who was recognized yesterday by the Associated Press as the best radio play-by-play man in Texas.

Richard Hidalgo’s stint with Baltimore lasted nine days. The Orioles released him from his non-roster deal yesterday. His next stop may be Japan.

Amazing: The White Sox have already reassigned non-roster invite Ben Grieve to minor league camp.

Seattle and St. Louis reassigned righthanders Chris Jaile and Andy Cavazos, respectively, to their minor league camps.

The second installment of Michael Schlact’s excellent spring training diary is posted on Eleanor Czajka’s “Minor Details” page on the Newberg Report website.

Solid chat session with Baseball Prospectus minor league expert Kevin Goldstein yesterday afternoon. We’ll have a transcript up soon.

It’s semi-official: We’ll launch a revamped Newberg Report website soon, possibly by Opening Day.

Regardless, the goal is to have the new site up and running before Roger Clemens pitches in a big league game this year. No matter who he’s pitching for.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — MARCH 7, 2006

While spring training is a time for core players to get their work in and ramp up to Opening Day, camp is a time to capitalize for others.

With Michael Young away for the World Baseball Classic, Joaquin Arias — who went 8 for 9 in camp last year — has hit .417 and slugged .750 in his absence.

Mark Teixeira’s WBC run has opened up at-bats for Phil Nevin, who homered in his first two spring games and is slugging 1.125 in eight at-bats.

The fact that Laynce Nix has yet to play defense and that Gary Matthews Jr. has yet to play at all has given Jason Botts an opportunity, and in 13 at-bats he’s hitting .385/.467/.615. Ruddy Yan has made the most of his shot as well, singling five times in nine trips and scoring three runs. He’s the Rangers’ top candidate to eventually become Chone Figgins, a player some around here have coveted for years.

As Hank Blalock rests a tired arm, the Rangers’ top two third base prospects, Travis Metcalf and Johnny Whittleman, have taken advantage. Neither came to Surprise with so much as a non-roster invite to camp, but both have gotten chances to play. Metcalf has singled, doubled, and walked in six plate appearances, driving in a pair of runs, and Whittleman — who turned all of 19 last month — has singled in three trips (including a “B” game appearance Monday), driving in two.

Meanwhile, Ian Kinsler doesn’t seem to be in the mood to let anyone capitalize on an opportunity to compete for the second base job. In 12 trips to the plate, he’s reached base eight times (.333/.667/.833), logging a single, a home run, three walks, and three hit-by-pitches. He’s gone down on strikes only once.

And Vincent Sinisi, who probably wouldn’t have shown up in a big league box score thus far — unless there’s a plan to return him to his college position of first base now that Botts has been made a full-time outfielder and Adrian Gonzalez is gone — took advantage of his opportunity to face big league pitching as Team Italy faced Detroit in an exhibition game on Saturday. Sinisi, playing center field and right field, homered off Tigers reliever Humberto Sanchez and added a single.

Akinori Otsuka pitched a perfect ninth in Japan’s 3-2 loss to Korea on Sunday, striking out the side.

Francisco Cordero climbed a mound Sunday, throwing 40 pitches (eight breaking balls) without incident as far as his shoulder is concerned. He’s slated to throw again today and Thursday, and could pitch in a “B” game over the weekend. The Rangers want Cordero to pitch 11 innings in “A” and “B” games before the season begins.

C.J. Wilson had no problems with his right hamstring strain when he threw off a mound on Sunday, and he’ll throw again today or tomorrow. He could get into a game before the week is up.

John Danks has been the early story among pitching prospects, firing two hitless frames against Milwaukee on Sunday, the first big league spring training appearance of the 20-year-old’s career. Danks walked two Brewers but earned postgame praise from his manager and pitching coach.

Thomas Diamond allowed five runs in his second inning of work against Arizona yesterday.

Nix, making his return from surgery on both shoulders and a recent strained groin muscle, doubled and walked in two trips as the Rangers’ DH in yesterday’s “B” game. Kameron Loe surrendered one run on one hit (a bloop single) and two walks in the first three innings of the game, retiring the final seven Royals he faced — one on strikes and six on the ground.

Nick Regilio, sidelined with inflammation in his right flexor tendon, has been assigned to minor league camp.

No, D’Angelo Jimenez is no more a pitcher than Kevin Mahar is. That was Kelvin Jimenez who got the save yesterday, just as it was Ron Mahay who pitched a few days ago. The wires get exhibition box scores wrong from time to time.

Would you trade Chan Ho Park for John Thomson and Erubiel Durazo? An Atlanta newspaper story suggests the Braves and Rangers could get together on a deal that would send Nevin (and presumably a chunk of cash) to Atlanta for Thomson. One story locally suggests the Braves want Kevin Mench instead of Nevin, however, and that’s where the talks break off.

Texas was among a number of clubs who had a scout at the Boston-Pittsburgh game on Saturday, a game that Bronson Arroyo started for the Red Sox. This time of year, however, teams routinely scout other teams. Don’t read too much into the fact that the Rangers had someone scouting their Opening Day opponents.

Baltimore outfielder Richard Hidalgo is dealing with a family situation that’s evidently serious enough that the 30-year-old is considering retirement, just a week after signing with the Orioles.

Twenty-three-year-old Canadian Emerson Frostad, my number five breakout candidate going into 2005, followed up a .216/.308/.322 debut season by hitting .269/.346/.449 for Clinton last year with a team-leading 26 doubles and 16 homers, driving in 62 runs in 114 games. It was Frostad’s second pro season and possibly his last at third base. Texas is converting him to catcher, a position he played briefly at Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho before Texas drafted him in 2003’s 13th round.

If Frostad takes to the position, the fact that he hits left-handed could make him a far more valuable commodity than he is right now.

My latest feature for MLB.com is now posted at TexasRangers.com, focusing on the mechanics of the Rule 5 Draft. Next week’s article will be a rules-intensive Q&A. If you have any questions about baseball’s procedural rules, e-mail them to me at newbergreport@sbcglobal.net. They can involve certain players or transactions, or deal with the rules in general. Please also include a first name and last initial, as well as the city you’re emailing from.

Baseball Prospectus minor league expert Kevin Goldstein, recently Rule 5’d from Baseball America, will join us for a live chat session tomorrow at 2:00. Go to NewbergReport.com and click “Chat” to join the discussion with Kevin, whose AL West farm system assessments are now posted on the BP website.

The talented Dave Sanford of RoyalsCorner.com was in Surprise recently and slid over to the Rangers side of the complex to take a batch of photographs of some of the younger Rangers in big league camp. Check his work out at http://www.dickiethon.com/newberg/spingphoto2006.htm.

The best news about the Cowboys moving to the Ticket is that I’ll get more work done in August each year, because there will be no need to tune in to the station. I’m a big Cowboys fan, but there’s no beatdown like being subjected to around-the-clock football talk in August.

And if Brad Sham and Babe Laufenberg aren’t part of the deal, I won’t need to tune into the Ticket on game days, either. It makes me sick to my stomach to imagine Dallas playing without Sham bringing it into my living room. The team and the station better not blow this.

Kirby Puckett, as we were shocked to learn after his playing days, wasn’t the best guy around, but man, he defined what was so good about the game in the late ’80s and early ’90s. He had perhaps the greatest, most infectious energy for the game of any player his generation had to offer (not to mention the greatest bat flip of all time).

What Puckett did on the field doesn’t erase the ugliness of his behavior off of it, but it’s so sad to think that Puckett’s health gave out at an age when, under different circumstances, we might still have been treated to his contributions to the game, if not on the field then in some other capacity. Baseball brought out the best in him, and he in it.

Puckett was a first-round pick (third overall) whose .330 run in the equivalent of two minor league seasons was all the seasoning he’d need. The only question was whether he’d develop power. After hitting a combined four home runs in his first two Twins seasons (and just 13 in 903 farm at-bats), he blasted 31 out in his third campaign, completely redefining himself into a player whose productivity, playoff heroics, and magnetism earned him a ticket to Cooperstown.

There’s no prospect in Rangers camp with as much promise as Puckett, whose maturity into a home run hitter was the difference between a Mark Loretta career and one destined for the Hall of Fame.

But at the same time, there are plenty of young Ranger hitters who might have one aspect of his game that could make the difference between a 4-A career and a core spot in a big league lineup. There are different degrees of redefining oneself, and the opportunity is there right now — even if only for a couple weeks — for a handful of Ranger prospects to begin doing just that on the biggest March stage.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

The Newberg Report: March 4

February 8 Newberg Report, on JD’s To-Do List: "Get Nevin lots of at-bats while Tex is playing in the WBC — maybe he’ll get someone interested . . . check with Bowden."

February 13 Newberg Report, on camp questions: "Can Phil Nevin take advantage of Mark Teixeira’s WBC sabbatical to earn a role, or maybe create an opportunity for Texas to pay someone to take him?"

February 22 Newberg Report, on the Erubiel Durazo pickup: "The deal Durazo signed allows him to leave if Texas hasn’t put him on the big league roster by March 29 . . . but barring injury, it’s hard to imagine there being room for him — unless Nevin capitalizes on Mark Teixeira’s WBC sabbatical and plays himself into a trade, or plays so poorly that the Rangers decide to release him and eat his massive contract.

March 2 comment from Rudy Jaramillo, hours before the Rangers’ Cactus League opener against Kansas City: "Just write it down. Nevin is back. Quote me. The bat speed is there. The gut he had when we got him last season is gone. He’s in top physical shape. I see big things from Nevin. He can hit cleanup if Hank doesn’t, but both can be in the middle of the order for us."

March 2 Rangers-Royals game, second inning: Nevin’s first at-bat of the spring . . . Home run to straightaway center field (clearing the 400-foot fence) on an 0-2 breaking ball from lefthander Mark Redman.

March 3 Rangers-Royals game, first inning: in his first at-bat of the game, Nevin hits an opposite-field bomb, crushing a two-out, 3-1 fastball off righthander Denny Bautista to right center with a man on base.

In Thursday’s game, Nevin would come up two more times, reaching on an error by Mark Grudzielanek and drawing a walk. On Friday, the club’s first game without Teixeira and Michael Young, Nevin singled in his second trip before being lifted.

Oh, yeah: Nevin singled and walked in Wednesday’s intrasquad game.

He’s reached base in all seven trips to the plate this spring.

These games are close to meaningless, of course, but that sort of production sure beats four strikeouts, two rollover grounders to shortstop, and a lazy fly to right field.

Ian Kinsler had three plate appearances in the two Royals games, getting drilled twice and, in between, taking Kansas City lefthander J.P. Howell deep to left. He’s been challenged once defensively, making a solid play charging an Andres Blanco bunt and nipping him at first.

As Mike Hindman noted in his excellent daily recaps, Jason Botts saw 19 pitches in two trips yesterday, drawing a nine-pitch walk off Bautista (who would last only one inning after needing 30 pitches to complete it) and lining out to second to cap off a 10-pitch at-bat against Howell. Botts’s proven ability to work counts is as important to his big league potential as his light-tower power from both sides of the plate. In his 30 plate appearances with the Rangers in the last month of the 2005 season, Botts averaged seeing 4.80 pitches per plate appearance. The major league leader among qualifiers was Philadelphia outfielder Bobby Abreu — who averaged 4.39.

To get Mike’s farm-intensive reports and mine, make sure you’re on the free mailing list — instructions are at the end of this report.

Mike is also doing a weekly feature on the Rangers farm system this year for MLB.com, and his debut piece (March 1) is up now at http://newberg.mlblogs.com/. Head over and check it out.

Kevin Millwood will spend most of his time in camp pitching in simulated and "B" games, both to accommodate his standard ease into game action and to avoid giving the Rangers’ division foes a firsthand look at him before April. In a simulated game on Friday, Millwood pitched the equivalent of two innings, throwing only 19 strikes out of his 35 deliveries and logging three punchouts while issuing two walks.

Curt Schilling, in an interview he did with Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, said the following when asked whether there are players who have found a way to continue using illegal performance-enhancing substances: "No. I’ve played with guys and worked out with guys, that if you saw them on TV once a week, your first thought would be, ‘Whoa.’ But guys are so genetically different now than they were 20 years ago, that it’s unfair. I’ll give you a great example — (Red Sox outfielder) Gabe Kapler. He is a physical specimen. Genetically, he is the anti-Curt Schilling. There are other guys. (Rangers outfielder) Laynce Nix. He is a monster. I watched him every day this winter at API (the Athletes’ Performance Institute in Tempe, Ariz.) bustin’ his (butt). He is what he is because he put the time and effort into it."

It turns out the source of the elbow discomfort that Nick Regilio has been experiencing is inflammation in his right flexor tendon, though not where the tendon was torn and operated on last summer. Regilio could be throwing again in a couple weeks, but he won’t be ready for the start of the season.

Texas assigned non-roster catcher Taylor Teagarden to minor league camp, reducing the number of players in big league camp to 62. Teagarden wasn’t on the field anyway, as he rehabs following off-season Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Following in the footsteps of fellow hurlers Spike Lundberg, John Hudgins, C.J. Wilson, and Jason Andrew, righthander Michael Schlact has agreed to keep a Spring Training Diary, an exclusive for Newberg Report readers. Schlact has reported to camp, which opened for minor league pitchers and catchers yesterday (the first full-squad workout is Thursday). The 20-year-old’s first entry should be up the next few days on Eleanor Czajka’s "Minor Details" page.

Outfielder Vincent Sinisi and righthander Marc LaMacchia made the Italian squad and will play in this month’s World Baseball Classic before returning to minor league camp.

The Rangers announced sales of over 120,000 tickets yesterday, a figure that includes phone orders, Internet sales, group tickets, and tickets sold at the box office at Ameriquest Field. It’s the club’s second-highest first day of individual ticket sales in the last 10 years.

Evan Grant will do a live chat session with the Newberg Report in about two weeks.

Baseball America features righthanders Wes Littleton and Jesse Chavez and outfielder K.C. Herren among 42 players who were considered for but did not make the publication’s Top 30 Prospects lists for each organization.

San Diego hired Bob Cluck to be a minor league pitching consultant. Cluck was the Rangers’ roving minor league pitching instructor when he and current Padres exec Grady Fuson implemented the tandem-starter program at the sub-AA levels in the Texas system.

My next article on MLB.com, which will be published on Monday, will focus on Fabio Castro and the mechanics of the Rule 5 Draft.

MLB.com is publishing my articles in Spanish at http://texas.rangers.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/tex/news/spanish/index.jsp.

Eric Nadel and Victor Rojas, who brought us yesterday’s Texas-Kansas City game on KRLD 1080-AM, will broadcast again today and tomorrow, next Saturday and Sunday, the following Saturday and Sunday, and then on the 24th (night), 26th, and 27th (night). They’ll do the two games against the Marlins to finish the pre-season as well, and when the season gets underway, many of the old pregame staples will return, including Nadel’s "A Page from Baseball’s Past" and a lengthier manager’s show.

Nevin stands to appear in virtually all those games, particularly those before the WBC tournament ends. How his spring story ends remains to be seen — there are several possible outcomes — but it sure has started off well.

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You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

The Newberg Report: March 1

Tease: An opposite-field home run and a double by Brad Wilkerson in yesterday’s intrasquad opener.

Tease: Two scoreless innings from Adam Eaton in the game, half his outs on strikes.  One single allowed.

Tease: For Joaquin Arias, a double off the center field wall off of R.A. Dickey and a triple to center off of Joaquin Benoit.

Tease: Scoreless frames from left-handed relievers Fabio Castro and Jesse Carlson.

Geez: Washington has reportedly made a pitch to Boston about a trade involving Alfonso Soriano.  (Boston apparently wasn’t interested.)  Meanwhile, the Nationals signed Pedro Astacio.  And across town, Baltimore gave Richard Hidalgo a non-roster invite.

Unease: The Nationals haven’t ruled out suspending Soriano if he continues to refuse a move to the outfield.

"Freeze!": The Rangers are telling lefthander Brian Anderson to relax, for crying out loud.  Anderson is apparently ahead of his rehab schedule following July Tommy John surgery, and the club is having to tap the brakes on the full-throttle veteran for him.

High cheese: Roger Clemens, pitching a simulated game in Astros camp on Monday, surrendered a Koby Clemens home run.  The next time Koby came up to hit, Dad buzzed Son on a 1-1 pitch, up and in.

Please: My birthday is Friday.  If you’re struggling over what to get me, my list contains four items: The Shield–Season One (DVD), The Shield–Season Two (DVD), The Shield–Season Three (DVD), and The Shield–Season Four (DVD). I’ve got some serious catching up to do.  Wow.

Tangential tease (Newberg Disease): Boston’s first two picks in the June 1983 draft — University of Texas righthander Roger Clemens, and University of Texas shortstop Mike Brumley.

Brumley is the Rangers’ minor league field coordinator.

Clemens is the Rangers’ only remaining meaningful free agent target.

While they could reunite with the Rangers, they won’t be joined by DeMarlo Hale, who was Boston’s 17th-round pick in that same 1983 draft.  Hale is the only sure thing, however, to be in Arlington on Opening Day, albeit in the Red Sox road grays.

The Clemens connection with Brumley runs deeper than any he has with David Dellucci (who spent about six weeks as Clemens’s teammate with the 2003 Yankees), D’Angelo Jimenez (who appeared in seven Yankee games in 1999), or Michael Young (who was somewhere on the back fields in Dunedin in 1998 when he and Clemens had their one Blue Jays camp together).

I don’t know how close Clemens and Brumley are or how much weight, if any, a Brumley sales pitch might carry with Clemens, but I’ll promise you this:

If Clemens signs with the Rangers, I’m sending Brumley a thank-you note.

This disjointed edition of the Newberg Report has been brought to you by a nasty case of spring baseball fever.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

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