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Tuesday newsletter time: Rangers move another day closer to Opening Day

(Texas Rangers/Bailey Orr)

 

ARLINGTON — Wyatt Langford was a wanted man Monday, his first day at Globe Life Field since being named to the Rangers’ roster.

Well, he’s one day and one less media scrum closer to Opening Day.

The rookie outfielder fielded questions from the local horde before the Rangers took on the Red Sox in the first of two exhibition games to close the spring season.

He wasn’t asked anything earthshattering, nor did he provide any life-changing responses. But he didn’t think it was too bad, and he should be off the hook until after Opening Day.

He batted sixth in the Rangers’ lineup, behind Josh Jung and ahead of Jonah Heim. Manager Bruce Bochy said the nine hitters who started Monday were close to what he has in mind for Opening Day, with the exception likely first baseman Jared Walsh.

The Rangers are facing Cubs left-hander Justin Steele, so Ezequiel Duran, a right-handed hitter, could be at first. He said everything feels good at first base.

“But one problem: Don’t throw it too high,” the 5-foot-11 infielder said.

Langford, whose locker is next to Duran’s, got a laugh out of that one.

New playing surface

Four years’ worth of baseball games, concerts, corporate events and general abuse was deemed enough for the original playing surface at Globe Life Field to take.

A new surface was laid down over the past few weeks, and it will be hard to notice much of difference. It’s the same Shaw Sports Turf product, with the coconut/dirt GeoFill beneath the synthetic grass. The green color seems to be richer for both the dark and the light strips in the surface pattern.

The players hadn’t worked out on it yet during the media’s clubhouse access, so there was no initial indication on how the ball comes off the new stuff. Questions will be asked today.

It could be different. Chase Field in Arizona uses the same turf, and it was initial thought to be on bouncy side. The light part of the pattern there looks almost yellowish at times.

 

Ohtani speaks

Shohei Ohtani never going to take questions Monday. He read prepared remarks that he believed would answer everyone’s questions about the gambling scandal that led to the firing of interpreter Ippei Mizuhara and some serious questions about what Ohtani knew and if he himself was betting.

He denied, denied and denied some more, saying he didn’t know anything about Mizuhara’s gambling debt until he addressed the team last week in Korea. Ohtani said that he has never bet on any sports and that Mizuhara admitted that he used an Ohtani account to pay the $4.5 million debt.

At that point, Ohtani said he turned things over to his representatives.

Any questions? Yes.

How did Mizuhara gain access to the account?

How does an accountant or someone on Team Ohtani not see the wire payments and inquire with superstar about them?

How does a bookie allow a client to amass $4.5 million in debt without knowing who is backing him?

Ohtani certainly has made himself into a sympathetic victim here, and there’s no evidence to suggest he isn’t. Until someone comes forward with receipts, Ohtani appears to be innocent.

The statement sheds light on another issue: how much the Dodgers, and the Angels before them, protect Ohtani. Television cameras were not allowed in the media room, aside form the Dodgers’ feed.

Some of the Ohtani-dedicated reporters believe agent Nez Balelo is behind the media blackout during the previous seasons.

Last season, for instance, Ohtani spoke to reporters only after one of his pitching starts, and he didn’t speak with them after his it was learned that he needed Tommy John surgery. That’s pure garbage.

He said that he is going to let his representatives handle things going forward, which means he’s done talking on the gambling subject until it becomes a PR issue again.

Doggy video!

Do I want steak, you asked? And ice cream? Really? 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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2 Comments

  1. deGrom Texas Ranger March 28, 2024

    Ohtani sounds to me like an inferior version of Barry Bonds in terms of personality and performance (obviously). Somehow, he manages to maintain such a high image with the media. It makes little sense to me. This man left the country before the season ended after getting a record 25 MM raise in arbitration and went unscathed.

    Reply
    1. Jeff Wilson March 28, 2024

      Barry Bonds didn’t have a ton of personality. He wasn’t media-friendly, either. Ohtani is at least respectful on the few occasions when he deals with them. He played for a crap team with a small U.S. media pool. My guess is Dodgers media won’t let him slide as much.

      Reply

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