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Thursday newsletter time: Three catchers just one roster idea for Rangers to mull

(AP photo/Lindsey Wasson)

 

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Nothing gets the crowd warmed up in spring training like some good bench talk, and manager Bruce Bochy got into the act Wednesday when he volunteered that the Rangers will consider late into camp whether they should open the season with three catchers.

When last we saw the Rangers in action, they had three catchers. That was late in the season and in the playoffs, when not many more than nine players were seeing time in the lineup. Two of them were catchers, with Jonah Heim at catcher and Mitch Garver at designated hitter.

A third catcher would allow Bochy to do the same thing if they determine that Heim and Andrew Knizner or Sam Huff are two of their nine best hitters. The third catcher would allow Bochy to pinch run for one of the two catchers without having to lose the DH.

That seems like a luxury in the first half of the season, though with the injuries to Corey Seager (sports hernia) and Josh Jung (left calf strain), the Rangers might need some offensive punch if the left side of the infield isn’t ready by Opening Day.

The Rangers are also considering opening the season with an outfielder who was in college this time last year, Wyatt Langford, and with the rotation as is despite a need for another arm. Some prospects who have never pitched in the majors are candidates for jobs in the bullpen.

Spring games, which begin Friday, will give the Rangers ample opportunities to evaluate players and consider what form the season-opening roster will take and for how long. Arizona isn’t the ideal place to evaluate players, with the thin air, the dry fields and the high skies playing havoc on pitchers and inflating hitters’ numbers, but the Rangers know that after 20-plus years here.

Also, players can get hurt in spring training, too (Jung, Yu Darvish and Jurickson Profar come to mind).

For those panicked about three catchers, relax. The same goes for those worried that Langford might not be on Opening Day roster. The Rangers have a month’s worth of games to sort it all out.

Say what?

The hard-hitting reporter that I am, my first question to Knizner was why on earth is the first N in his last name silent. The K is usually silent when followed by an N, but not in this instance. In fact, Knizner is the only instance I can think of in which that isn’t the case.

His last name is pronounced “Kizner.”

“I should make it easy and just drop that first N, just cut it out,” he said. “Pretty much anyway you can pronounce it, I’ve gotten it. I probably would say it wrong, too, if I didn’t know how to say it.”

Jung has long had a similar issue. His J in his last name, for those who pronounce it like the psychiatrist Carl, is pronounced like a Y. So, Jung is pronounced “young.”

Knizner received nothing but glowing reports about catching coach Bobby Wilson after signing a one-year, $1.8 million deal. One text told Knizner that Wilson would “change your life,” and that’s proven to hold true.

The Rangers are the league’s best at stealing strikes/pitching framing. Knizner said that Wilson has taught him some new techniques, especially on low pitches, that he thinks will improve his framing numbers.

The past two American League Gold Glove winners at catcher, Jose Trevino and Jonah Heim, were groomed by Wilson.

“He’s really, really good, and he has a really good sense of being able to explain things so we can understand it,” Knizner said. “I’m just really looking forward to continuing to work with him.”

Weight issue

Huff never wanted to lose weight and never needed to slim down, but his stint in the Dominican Winter League led to him losing 30 pounds in roughly one month.

The catcher said that he rinsed his mouth out with tap water while in Santo Domingo, and it led to something awful tearing through his system. He said that he was unable to eat anything more than rice and ground beef while he was there, and the weight kept coming off after he returned.

He’s better now, and he displayed his usual power Wednesday during batting practice. In fact, he homered on command for Bochy, who had just walked onto the field to watch the catchers hit.

Despite the illness, Huff said that he loved his time in the D.R.

ICYMI …

Though my kids would disagree, the past week has flown past, and the first of three spring trips for Rangers Today comes to an end Friday. I haven’t even left yet but am ready to come back. The writing and reporting will continue from Texas and so will some additional behind-the-scenes work in an effort to continue to improve the user experience. The Rangers Today Baseball Podcast will knock out a new episode today with Jon Gray and another next week with guest TBA.

Check out our latest content, in case you missed it, and new subscribers need to act fast to get an annual subscription for only $48.

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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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