Shortstop gold.

Shortstop was, in
some minds, as big a question mark as the Rangers had coming into camp, and
while it’s obviously too soon to say any roster issues have been resolved,
three moments out of Surprise that have fired me up so far came this weekend,
each from the players vying for playing time at the position.

 

On Saturday, Joaquin
Arias ended the Rangers’ 6-4 win over Arizona with what one beat reporter described
as “a strong throw after a backhand stop in the hole,” nailing Brandon Watson,
a center fielder with 200 career stolen bases in the minor leagues.  Ron Washington’s comment: “That should answer
any questions about his arm.”

 

Think back to what
Arias was when was acquired from the Yankees in the Alex Rodriguez trade five
years ago (my 2005 Bound Edition feature on Arias had this: “Arias has a huge arm and a live bat, runs
extremely well, doesn’t strike out much, and though he is immature physically,
he is said to have off-the-charts instincts for the game”).  If the arm truly is back, two years after a
shoulder injury suffered while a short-lived center field experiment was afoot,
then the 24-year-old – younger, for example, than Taylor Teagarden – becomes a seriously
legitimate candidate to be a big league baseball player.  He’s gone back to the Dominican Republic,
where according to reports his father is gravely ill, but when he returns his
opportunity to make this team will pick right back up.

 

On Sunday, Elvis
Andrus hit twice, both times singling with runners on base.  The first was a second-inning shot to center
field off of big league-experienced lefthander Justin Thomas, moving Chris
Davis to third and Adam Melhuse to second. 
The second was the more impressive result, a fourth-inning hit-and-run
executed crisply (just as Andrus did all year for Frisco in 2008), as Washington
moved Melhuse with the pitch delivered by Mariners veteran Mark Lowe and Andrus
went the other way, shooting a ball through the gap left when second baseman Chris
Woodward vacated his position to cover the bag with Melhuse running.  As Mavericks color analyst Bob Ortegel likes
to say after a player makes a signature play: “He can do that.” 

 

Nothing wrong with a
number nine hitter who, as a young player, can do the little things well.

 

Two innings after
Andrus’s second hit, Omar Vizquel replaced him. 
He promptly squeezed a Jeff Clement pop-up for the first out of the
sixth.  In the bottom of the inning he singled
Justin Smoak in.  But it’s what happened
to start the Seattle
seventh that merits mention.  In the
words of the same beat reporter:

 

Mariners outfielder Prentice Redman, leading
off the seventh, hit a sharp grounder up the middle.  The Rangers shortstop slid over to make the
play.  The ball took a bad hop and
skipped high and behind the shortstop. 

 

Omar Vizquel adjusted quickly.  He reached up with his bare hand, snatched the
ball and fired to first base for the out as a roar of admiration went up from
4,000 or so fans.

 

We’ve all seen
Vizquel and Ozzie Smith, and nobody else, make that play.

 

Andrus and Vizquel
and Arias won’t all break camp as members of the Opening Day roster, but
whichever two earn the April 6 spots, I’m looking forward to watching them
work.

 

Sounds like there’s
nothing to worry about as far as Josh Hamilton’s left Achilles tendon is
concerned.  Hamilton tripled to left in
the first inning yesterday, and tweaked the Achilles while taking his lead off
of third, prompting Washington to pull him from the game after the inning ended
with him stranded on the bag.  But Hamilton was reportedly “bouncing
on his feet in the clubhouse” after his day was over, and pronounced himself
ready to play today.  Don’t count on it,
though; chances are good that he’ll watch today’s game, have a day off with the
rest of his teammates tomorrow, and take his .556/.556/1.444 line back into
action on Wednesday.

 

Brendan Donnelly’s
muscle strain in the back of his right shoulder?  Maybe not so incidental.  Combine Donnelly’s status (he’s limited to long
toss right now, and has yet to make an official appearance) and Willie Eyre’s
forearm stiffness (he’s been shut down), and you wonder whether the Rangers’
apparent interest in auditioning free agent Chad Cordero could ramp up.  Keep an eye on Thomas Diamond, too.  His second spring appearance should come in
relief today.

 

Diamond and Brandon
McCarthy have evidently scrapped the curve ball in favor of a slider.

 

Andruw Jones is 1
for 9 with eight strikeouts. 

 

Marlon Byrd debuted yesterday
with five innings of action, and he came out of it with no knee issues.

 

Brandon Boggs’s shoulder
has been cleared for action.

 

Jason Jennings threw
a simulated game yesterday and could be close to seeing Cactus League
action.  Kason Gabbard is a step behind
that, having thrown a Sunday bullpen that puts him in line for a sim game soon.

 

Pedro Strop, thought
when signed in November to be a non-factor until after spring training (due to June
surgery he had for a stress fracture in his elbow while with the Rockies), is
reportedly ahead of schedule and could work his way into a position to pitch in
a big league spring training game. 

 

The Kansas City
T-Bones of the independent Northern League re-signed first baseman Jim Fasano.

 

Baltimore signed righthander Adam Eaton to a minor
league contract and invited him to hang out in big league camp for a while.  Kansas
City gave lefthander Bruce Chen a similar deal.

 

The Royals
designated utility man Esteban German for assignment.  Meanwhile, lefthander Fabio Castro has
allowed one run on five hits in three spring innings of work for the Blue Jays.

 

Washington general manager Jim Bowden has resigned.

 

Remember when Newsday‘s Kat O’Brien used to consistently
pump out unparalleled stories on the Rangers’ young Latin American players when
she was with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram?  She’s back
at it
.

 

If you don’t have a
DVR and can’t watch the second airing of MLB Network’s “Josh Hamilton:
Resurrecting the Dream” documentary this Wednesday at noon, the program will air
again at 7:00 p.m. Central on March 27.

 

Tomorrow, I believe,
is the deadline to sign up for the DirecTV special that I emailed you all about
a month ago.  If you want more details,
email me.

 

My European History professor
at UT had the craziest wardrobe.  She had
an endless supply of the exact same shirt, a short-sleeved, button-down, light-blue
denim number, sort of Western-looking, but she patched (or ironed on, or
crocheted – what do you think I am, a textile expert?) a different design onto each
one, from the pockets up to the shoulders, effectively giving her a different
look every day.  Solids, stripes, madras,
polka dots, picnic table patterns, felt, houndstooth, you name it.  And she sweated more profusely, and more rapidly,
than anyone I think I’ve known.  By time
we were 15 minutes into Pepin II of Aquitaine,
the shirt was dark blue.

 

Don’t bother reading
Randy Galloway’s column this morning.  There
might be a slightly different embroidery on it, but it’s basically Miss What’sHerName’s
sweaty shirt.

 


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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers

%d bloggers like this: