Friday newsletter time: Another Rangers player won’t be going to World Baseball Classic
(AP photo/Eric Christian Smith)
The Rangers entered February with three players headed to the World Baseball Classic.
They entered the first weekend of March with only Martin Perez going.
Right-hander Jose Leclerc will not play for the Dominican Republic because of neck stiffness. Manager Bruce Bochy said that the Rangers didn’t think it made sense to send an ailing player to the WBC.
“He understood,” Bochy said told reporters in Arizona. “He wanted to represent his country, but he understands this is where he works and how badly we need him.”
Leclerc is the longest-tenured Rangers reliever and a candidate to be the team’s closer. Even if that duty goes to Jonathan Hernandez, Ian Kennedy or Brock Burke, Leclerc will be used in high-leverage situations in a bullpen that doesn’t exactly have an abundance of experienced arms.
“The last thing we want to do is send somebody who isn’t quite 100 percent,” Bochy said.
Nathan Eovaldi isn’t participating because the Rangers couldn’t get his contract insured. Of course, he’s dealing with tightness in his left side and probably would have been a scratch anyway.
Perez might want to put himself in bubble wrap. He’s scheduled to leave Monday to join Team Venezuela in Miami.
Timing is everything
Things got much better Thursday for right-hander Dane Dunning, who was down 1-0 after one Milwaukee batter. It was Christian Yelich, who connected for his first spring home run.
That was the only damage against Dunning, who allowed just two more hits over three innings and struck out five.
“I’ve been working on some mechanical things,” he said. “But I threw that out the window today and was just trying to find my rhythm and timing and tempo.”
Dunning also came to realize that the pitch clock isn’t as fast as it might seem. He said that he wore himself out in his first outing trying to beat the clock, and the result was allowing five runs in 1 1/3 innings.
He took his time, at least within the confines of 15 and 20 seconds, against the Brewers.
“I feel like you have a lot more time than you think,” Dunning said.
Dunning is a candidate for the bullpen, but the Rangers are stretching him out to be a starter in case they want him to serve as rotation depth at Triple A Round Rock.
Card of the Week
Among the many minor-leaguers who arrived early to spring training is outfielder Anthony Gutierrez, the prize of the Rangers’ 2022 international signing class and their No. 5 overall prospect according to Baseball America.
The Rangers love him, naturally. He’s big, athletic and mashes fastballs.
He made it to the states last season, landing in the Arizona Complex League. Though only 18, he should open the season at Low A Down East.
And … he already has a couple of trading cards. His 2022 Bowman Chrome Prospects 1st Bowman is the Card of the Week.
During my first go-round in Surprise (Round 2 is coming up next week), I saw Gutierrez taking batting practice with third baseman Gleider Figuerero, shortstop Danyer Cueva and fellow outfielder Daniel Mateo.
That group is years away from the majors. There’s no guarantee that any of them will make it or be with the Rangers if and when they do.
But it will be fun to watch what becomes of them.
Me, when the wife orders the kids pizza and she and I eat what we have in the house.
Please…could you maybe just drop a little…😂😇🐶 pic.twitter.com/cESHOXej6J
— Laughs 4 All 🤟 (@Laughs_4_All) February 26, 2023
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org