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Friday newsletter time: Let the games, which don’t matter much early, begin

(AP photo/Ross D. Franklin)

 

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Marcus Semien and Nathaniel Lowe told manager Bruce Bochy they wanted to play in the Cactus League opener today, and he’s never been one to stand in the way of their desire to take the field.

Young outfielders Evan Carter and Wyatt Langford will see the field, too.

Right-hander Dane Dunning will start, logging one inning or 25 pitches. Left-hander Cody Bradford, who turned 26 on Thursday, might end up pitching two innings in relief.

Jack Leiter and Danny Duffy are on the list of pitchers, too.

For those monitoring from home, keep one thing in mind: None of what happens, barring an injury, matters one iota.

Not yet. The first few times through the rotation aren’t about results as much as they are about pitchers getting a feel for their pitches and building arm strength. Yes, they want to do well, but their primary concern is making sure the foundation for success is being put down.

That might mean throwing only fastballs in one outing or throwing their third-best pitch in a full count.

Even those like Leiter and Duffy, who are competing for a roster spot, get a freebie the first time out.

The hitters have been in camp less than a week and have seen live pitching only twice. Some will be ahead of the pitchers, but some will be behind. And that’s OK, too.

Just as pitchers are on short leashes early in camp, don’t expect starting position players to see more than two or three at-bats. They will be replaced by bench candidates, who will be replaced by just-in-case players from minor-league camp.

And, just to top it off, Arizona is a difficult place to evaluate players. The air is dry and thin, which affects pitchers’ sliders and curveballs. In turn, a hitter might catch a flatter-than-normal breaking ball and knocked for a home run.

But because the air is thin, it can be hard to tell if he truly got the barrel to the ball.

Also, the infields are as hard as cement, so balls that hit in front of the plate might bounce over the infielders. The sky is high, and balls lost in the sun might lead to a cheap double and a couple of RBIs.

Just things to consider whether the Rangers win 15-2 or lose 15-2, and it’s going to be that way for a week or two.

Dude? Perfect

The Rangers have some famous visitors at camp this week. Dude Perfect, the five-man North Texas-based team of trick-shot artists, arrived Thursday morning for two days’ worth of shooting with the world champs.

Dunning helped orchestrate the shoot. Each member of Dude Perfect had a full uniform with their names on the back. They took time to sign autographs for fans when they weren’t hopping around the back fields.

They ate lunch, Jimmy John’s sandwiches, in the courtyard outside the clubhouse.

Bochy said that he wasn’t aware of Dude Perfect until recently but seemed versed in their backstory. Langford, among the younger players in camp, said that he watched their videos on YouTube when he was a tad younger. Special assistant Colby Lewis met the group. As the father of a 16-year-old boy, Lewis was familiar with Dude Perfect.

Dude Perfect has 60 million YouTube subscribers, a scant 59,997,775 more than the Rangers Today Baseball Podcast. Help us catch up by subscribing to our channel here.

 

Card of the Week

The 2024 Topps Series 1 cards are out, and I’m not sure I’m a big fan. A member of the Rangers’ marketing team had a few last week, and my first impression was they looked cheap.

Maybe they’ll grow on me.

As is the case these days, a player’s card comes with many variations, including in blue, red, mojo and yellow. That’s the color we plucked for the Card of the Week, the 2024 Topps Series 1 Evan Carter rookie.

Raise your hand if, like me, you prefer a rookie card of the player in the actual uniform of his team.

I understand that the 1st Bowman card is considered the rookie card to have for many players, including Carter from the 2020 Bowman Draft set.

I’m old-school.

While the base cards in Series 1 aren’t my favorite, the 25th anniversary cards are pretty clean and likely worth more than the actual 1989 Topps cards.

The guess here, even though they aren’t may favorite, is that a hobby box is in my near future.

Doggy video!

This is 100 percent the correct way of doing it. Enjoy.

 

Jeff Wilson, jeff@rangerstoday.com

Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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