Tuesday newsletter time: Rangers have depth on the position-player side, too
(AP photo/Charlie Riedel)
SURPRISE, Ariz. — If the Rangers are going to make a postseason run, their rotation must stay healthy.
They are trying to ensure that early in spring training by not letting newcomer Jacob deGrom throw off a mound yet. That should be coming within a week after he threw to 120 feet Monday while the rest of the team went through the first full-squad workout.
The Rangers continue to say that deGrom has no issues with the tightness he felt in his left side before coming to Arizona.
Three other starters — left-hander Andrew Heaney and righties Nathan Eovaldi and Jon Gray — who dealt with medical issues last season will be given ample opportunities for rest.
That’s where Jake Odorizzi, Dane Dunning and Glenn Otto would come into play. Two of them could be in the bullpen yet stay stretched out enough to hop into the rotation for a spot start or for a long stint.
But the Rangers don’t want many injuries to the position-player group, either. The Rangers have good options if/when a player is needed.
While the rotation will have quality depth at Triple A Round Rock, the fill-ins on the position-player side might start the season on the Rangers’ bench. Josh Smith, Ezequiel Duran, Mark Mathias and Bubba Thompson are all candidates for the Opening Day roster and are also players who could transition into short-term everyday roles if needed.
It’s unlikely that all four are in Arlington on March 30 against the Phillies, but that’s the start of the depth. Sam Huff is in there at catcher.
Depending on what happens with non-roster invitees, the Rangers could have a decent-sized group of players with MLB experience (Clint Frazier, Travis Jankowski, Yoshi Tsutsugo) at Triple A.
Dustin Harris, now on the 40-man roster after being protected from the Rule 5 draft, is inching closer in left field, and he could play first base, too.
Justin Foscue is going to split time in the minors this season between second base and third base. Blaine Crim could be a bat if needed.
Big-league coaches are working with all potential reserves each day and evaluating them in case they are needed.
And they will be. That’s just the way baseball goes.
As the media filed out of the clubhouse Monday morning, left-hander Joe Palumbo was standing in line for his pre-camp physical.
He had reached the turn-your-head-and-cough stage, so he seemed glad to run into us.
The left-hander, formerly a top-10 Rangers prospect, said that his minor-league deal wasn’t official until he passed his physical. That, though, was a formality. Palumbo will not be in big-league camp, and he’s fine with that. He just wanted a chance after things never panned out for him last season with the Giants.
Injuries have derailed Palumbo, but he’s left-handed with a good arm and will get a chance to serve as depth in the minor leagues.
Palumbo, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2020. He was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis that season, which was causing him to lose weight and strength and making him more susceptible to injuries.
He’s a good dude and has terrific minor-league numbers. Players all take different paths to the majors, and it’s worth a shot seeing if Palumbo can get back on track.
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