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Monday newsletter time: Cody Bradford keeps focus vs. watered-down Cubs lineup

(AP photo/Lindsey Wasson)

 

SURPRISE, Ariz. — One of the longest trips in the Cactus League is from Sloan Park, spring home of the Cubs, to Surprise Stadium.

No one wants to make that drive or any drive to the other side of the Valley, especially on a weekday.

Major-league veterans usually don’t have to do it, so the lineups opposing teams field are typically incredibly watered down.

Such was the case Sunday as the Cubs visited the Rangers. It was not an Opening Day preview.

Two of the Cubs’ projected starting position players were in the lineup. The rest were bench players or minor-leaguers fighting for a job, including starting pitcher/former Rangers left-hander Drew Smyly and catcher/former Rangers prospect Jorge Alfaro.

So, yeah, Cody Bradford should have pitched well against them, and he did in the Rangers’ 5-1 loss. He allowed one run in four innings as he continued to press for the fifth spot in the rotation.

The run shouldn’t have scored, either, as Wyatt Langford lost a towering flyball in the sun. The ball hit him in the ribs and resulted in a triple, and the runner came home on a sacrifice fly that Langford handled easily in left field.

The Cubs will field a much better lineup March 28 at Globe Life Field in the season opener. Bradford’s job Sunday was still to locate his fastball, work on his curveball and get outs no matter who was in the lineup.

“I’m just trying to execute pitches at the end of the day,” Bradford said. “Most of their starters didn’t seem to be here today, but that doesn’t affect the way I pitch.”

The pitchers the Cubs offered were better, relatively, than their players behind them. They limited the Rangers to seven singles. Langford had singles in his first two at-bats, including one he beat out for an infield hit.

“We’re in a little spring training rut right now,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I’ve seen it before this time of year. We’ll come out of it.”

Kudos to Corniell

As Bochy ran through the list of roster cuts the Rangers made Sunday morning, it became clear that right-hander Jose Corniell made a lasting impression. Bochy even said that he wouldn’t be surprised if Corniell, who has never pitched above High A, makes his MLB debut this season.

Corniell was optioned to Double A Frisco, and catcher Sam Huff, infielder Jonathan Ornelas, right-hander Cole Winn and left-hander Antoine Kelly were optioned to Triple A Round Rock. Corniell, 20, is the reigning Rangers Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

“Young kid, very impressive,” Bochy said. “This kid’s got tremendous poise to go with really good stuff. He’s pitching at 95, he’s got four pitches, so we need to get him stretched out.”

The Rangers acquired Corniell in December 2019 from the Mariners in a trade for right-handed reliever Rafael Montero.

Minor-league camp started last Monday, and players open play today against other organizations after playing intrasquad games the past four days.

Feeling old

Right-hander Cam Sanders finished off the game for the Cubs, and then took time after before heading to the bus to talk to Bochy and congratulate him on the World Series win.

There was a reason: Sanders’ dad, Scott, pitched for Bochy in the minor leagues and early in his big-league managerial career with the Padres.

“Just another guy to make me feel old,” Bochy said. “We came up together through the minors and pitched for me a couple years in San Diego.”

General manager Chris Young might be one of those guys. Bochy managed Young in 2006 with the Padres.

ICYMI …

Between injuries, the few position battles in big-league camp and the start of minor-league camp, it’s been busy the past few days at Rangers Today. Don’t forget the Rangers Today Baseball Podcast (embed above) and the YouTube channel, which John Moore has been filling up. Our latest content is below, in case you missed it. When you realize you want full access to the website, click this link for a spring training sale.

Wyatt Langford midcamp report

The Sunday Read: Roster projection 2.0

Leody Taveras breaking out?

Jack Leiter hanging around?

Friday on the Farm: Church is in session

Minor-league camp who to watch

Doggy video!

Dogs are brilliant (except when confronted by a mirror). 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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