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Wednesday newsletter time: Danny Duffy vying for spot in Rangers’ bullpen

(Texas Rangers/Bailey Orr)

 

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Andrew Heaney has his spot on the Rangers’ Opening Day roster all locked up.

He had it before he tossed five scoreless innings Tuesday in the Rangers’ 3-0 loss to the Guardians.

The left-hander who followed him, though, is fighting for a spot. It’s veteran Danny Duffy, who is no longer being considered for a rotation spot, and that’s fine with him.

He said he just wants to help the team win, and that’s part of the reason why the Rangers like him.

Duffy still has to show he can get outs. On Tuesday, he issues a two-run homer that just cleared the wall in right-center field in his lone inning against Cleveland. The walk before the home run didn’t help.

The Rangers like his offspeed stuff and are looking for more velocity. He topped out at 92 mph, which is up a tick from the start of camp. He also knows out to pitch and is always on the attack.

“He just competes so well,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s spinning it well, and he’s got the changeup going. I know he gave up the home run today, but he goes after them.”

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Duffy on the Opening Day roster or to see him be asked to open in the minors. Duffy has a 5.40 ERA in five Cactus League innings but tossed two scoreless innings last week in a minor-league game.

The key for him all spring is that he feels healthy and is pleased with how the ball is coming out of his hand. With right-hander Jonathan Hernandez expected to open the season on the injured list, the Rangers have need for another reliever. Ideally, that reliever would be able to work multiple innings, as Duffy can.

The Rangers love the guy and how he competes. General manager Chris Young is a former Duffy teammate with the Royals, and that can’t hurt. The Rangers have opened the past two seasons with former Young teammates, Greg Holland and Ian Kennedy.

Future Ranger?

The Guardians didn’t bring their A lineup to Surprise Stadium, but they did bring their A starting pitcher, right-hander Shane Bieber.

The 2020 Cy Young winner limited the Rangers to two hits in four scoreless innings and appears to have moved past the elbow trouble that sidelined him for much of the second half last season.

While there is talk of a Dylan Cease trade, the Rangers have to get that across the finish line. If they don’t, maybe they could shift to Bieber.

He is a free agent after this season and wouldn’t be as costly in terms of prospects as Cease. The Guardians are fringy contenders, and the right offer might be able to pry him loose. The Rangers anticipate having Max Scherzer (back) pitching by the summer and Tyler Mahle (Tommy John) and Jacob deGrom (Tommy John) not too far behind, but there is a more immediate concern about the rotation in the meantime.

Also, Heaney is headed to free agency after the season, Nathan Eovaldi can be free after this season if his option doesn’t vest and Jon Gray’s deal ends in 2025. Assuming the Rangers have their TV situation resolved, they could be players for Bieber as a free agent.

At this rate, Jordan Montgomery will still be a free agent, too.

Special visitor

Hideki Kuriyama, the manager who led Japan to the World Baseball Classic title last spring, spent the day in Rangers camp as the club and the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters continued their longtime relationship.

Kuriyama recently retired as Fighters manager and had been in Florida visiting Japanese players. His day in Rangers camp included sitting in on the coaches meeting, talking with coaches on the back fields and watching the game from the dugout.

Manager Bruce Bochy hadn’t had time to talk to Kuriyama when he met with the media in the morning but said that he hoped to talk ball with the manager who led the Fighters to the 2016 Japan Series title.

“You can learn from everybody,” Bochy said. “He’s had a tremendous career. We’re glad to have him here.”

Bochy said that he has been to Japan twice as a manager and admires how well Japanese teams work on fundamentals. Dominating the fundamentals is one of the Rangers’ tenets.

Doggy video!

Very clearly not a cat bed. 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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1 Comment

  1. deGrom Texas Ranger March 15, 2024

    Bieber would be great! I would hate to lose out on a guy of his caliber due to an obsession with Walcott, who seems like an overhyped Jurickson Profar 2.0 to me. I am hesitant, however, if Cleveland asks for Leiter as well. Maybe Walcott, Duran, and Harris/Owen White for either him or Clase

    Reply

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