THE NEWBERG REPORT — FEBRUARY 28, 2008

Funny how waiting five months for a day like yesterday can make a group of words like “Hamilton doubles off left-center field fence, driving in two” or “Botts scores from second on an infield single, diving over a bat in the right-hand batter’s box to beat the tag” or “Teagarden goes deep in first-ever spring training at-bat, on second pitch he sees” or “Murray, Mendoza, Rupe, and Littleton deal” jump out at you like you had front-row seats, a cold beverage, and just enough sunblock.

Texas 6, Kansas City 1 is a meaningless group of words and numbers, and what a hitter managed to do in one at-bat or a pitcher accomplished in an inning or two on February 27 means squat. But that was a really good day for the Rangers to migrate to the clubhouse with a win, no matter how inconsequential a win it was.

Or maybe it was just a really good day for a Rangers fan to get a win.

Though really, it was good enough just to have a game going on.

As for the Botts play, check Photo 4. It prompted Ron Washington to say to reporters: “What a base-running gem that was.” Washington was also caught on camera last week saying to Botts about his progress at first base: “You’re just turning into the perfect package.”

Kason Gabbard is slated to pitch to high school teammate Jarrod Saltalamacchia this afternoon, followed by Eric Hurley. Matt Harrison starts tomorrow, Vicente Padilla on Saturday, Jason Jennings on Sunday.

By that time, Jon Daniels may have a new contract extension in place, according to multiple reports. It’s expected to match the duration of team president Nolan Ryan’s deal, which is also yet to be finalized (or at least disclosed).

Kevin Mench’s two hits yesterday came in his first non-roster showing since his first big league camp, back in 2001. How long ago was that? Ryan was with the Rangers. So was Jerry Narron (on whom middle infielder Mike Young, who was in his first Rangers camp, was making a strong first impression). Buck Showalter was working for ESPN. Homecoming of sorts for all four in 2008.

Mench could get a look at first base later in camp.

Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list features five Rangers: Elvis Andrus (19), Chris Davis (65), Hurley (77), Teagarden (80), and Neftali Feliz (93).

BA’s Jim Callis, John Manuel, Will Lingo, and Chris Kline were the four experts whose rankings produced the eventual Top 100, and to get there each compiled a list of his top 150 prospects. All four had Michael Main on their lists even though he didn’t ultimately crack the top 100; his highest ranking among the four writers was 87. Interestingly, Harrison and Engel Beltre each appeared on only two of the four lists, but they were extremely high on at least one — one writer pegged Harrison as his number 35 prospect in the game, and one had Beltre number 27.

Kasey Kiker also made two lists, with a high ranking of 109. Julio Borbon (113), Blake Beavan (144), Omar Poveda (145), and Kaz Fukumori (145) appeared on one list each.

The Schaumburg Flyers of the independent Northern League signed outfielder Rontrez Johnson. The Sussex SkyHawks of the independent Can-Am League released lefthander Derrick Van Dusen.

Should be another good day today. Looking forward to hearing that Torii Hunter couldn’t touch Eric Hurley, that Hank Blalock made two strong throws to first on tough plays, that the ball didn’t get out of the infield in Kaz Fukumori’s spotless frame, and that Jason Botts did some more damage offensively.

It’s even OK with me if my team doesn’t stay undefeated. Just give me more baseball, between the lines.

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

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