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Tuesday Newsletter time: Matt Bush emerges as a candidate to close, open games for Texas Rangers

Matt Bush’s velocity is back up to 99 mph, and he could be working late in games during the regular season (Texas Rangers/Ben Ludeman).



SURPRISE, Ariz. — The last day of spring training has arrived for the Texas Rangers, who are scheduled to leave the Surprise Recreation Campus on Tuesday afternoon for Toronto.

They will do so without naming a closer.

Manager Chris Woodward said that who pitches the ninth inning with a lead will be determined by matchups. Right-hander Joe Barlow, who finished last season as the closer, is a candidate for save opportunities.

So is Matt Bush, the oft-injured reliever who was told Sunday he had made the team after showing 2016-like velocity. He said on Monday that he would pitch late in games and occasionally as an opener.

The Rangers open the season Friday against the Blue Jays.

After having shoulder issues in 2017 and elbow issues in 2018, 2019 (Tommy John surgery) and again last season, Bush knows that he must allow coaches to manage his workload and be up front with how he is feeling.

He lasted only two appearances last season before hitting the injured list.

“It’s a really good feeling how everything ends up working out,” said Bush, who has hit 99 mph this spring.

“I like to go in with confidence knowing that I have the ability to make the team and when everything falls into place and I have success out on the field and the team tells me just stay healthy and keep doing you, I get rewarded for the effort and just success on the field.”

The Rangers have multiple power pitchers who could work late in games, including newcomer Albert Abreu. He arrived Monday at Rangers camp after he was acquired in the Jose Trevino trade with the Yankees.

Abreu said he is thrilled to be with the Rangers after seeing his opportunities dwindle in New York. He said he has hit 99 mph this spring, really likes his changeup and is growing more confident with an improving slider.

He feels like he has always had a lot to offer but has never gotten the chance in the big leagues.

“I’m really thankful for Texas for giving me this opportunity,” Abreu said. “I really wanted to fulfill my dream, but there was no possible way I was going to get there to the Yankees’ system.”

The Alexy Plan

The Rangers optioned A.J. Alexy, arguably their best pitcher this spring, to Triple A Round Rock to be the first line of defense in case a big-league starter needs time on the injured list.

Hard-throwing rookie reliever Nick Snyder was also sent to Round Rock.

Alexy allowed one hit in five scoreless Cactus League innings and allowed an unearned run in four innings of a recent minor-league game.

“I can’t say enough good things about him, to be honest with you,” Woodward said. “But, right now, he’s a super valuable piece for us as depth that’s ready. We are going to need him, especially the way he’s pitching. It’s hard to not say he would be first call if a need arises.”

Round Rock opens its season Tuesday night with left-hander Jake Latz getting the start. Cole Winn, the team’s No. 3 prospect, and fellow righty Kohei Arihara are also in the Round Rock rotation.

They will be joined by Glenn Otto should he not make the Opening Day roster. Yerry Rodriguez and Jason Bahr are also at Round Rock.

The Jack Pack

Double A Frisco opens its season Friday with left-hander Cody Bradford on the mound, but is making the opening weekend all about top prospect Jack Leiter.

The RoughRiders unveiled their Jack Pack ticket promotion Monday. For $22, Leiter’s jersey number, a fan can get a ticket in the bullpen seating area and a $10 concession voucher for any of the three games this weekend.

Leiter is making his professional debut Saturday at Riders Field, and if his strikeout total matches his jersey number, every fan in attendance will receive free season tickets for life.

It’s never going happen, which is makes it so darn funny.

T-shirts featuring the current Frisco mugshot of Leiter, which is comically photoshopped with a badly drawn Riders logo, will be tossed into the stands during each game.

Tickets are available online here.

Doggy video!

This dog is smarter than a lot of beat writers. Enjoy. See you Wednesday.

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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