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Wednesday newsletter time: Pitching mound(s) will be focal point in Rangers camp

(AP photo/Charlie Riedel)



The biggest decision for the media today will be whether to go to Scottsdale Stadium to watch Jon Gray pitch, and potentially see manager Bruce Bochy cheered wildly by Giants fans, or stay at Surprise Stadium and watch Nathan Eovaldi pitch.

That’s the curse of split-squad days. Not having to navigate Phoenix traffic will be a factor in the decision, but there is the general rule of thumb that writers go where the manager goes.

This is going to be tough, assuming Bochy returns to face his old team.

Eovaldi (side) and Gray (back) both had some hiccups this spring. In Eovaldi’s case, he might be on a limited pitch count his first time out during the regular season.

They are throwing on the same day because of the Tuesday off day, and will have to be split up before the season begins. The guess is that  left-handers Martin Perez and Andrew Heaney will book end Eovaldi and Gray, so the first series of the season could be Perez, deGrom and Heaney or deGrom, Perez and Eovaldi/Gray.

The Opening Day starter has not been named. That decision could also come today, as the Rangers have often met on off days in past springs to make big decisions.

Big day for Taveras

Center fielder Leody Taveras will take right-handed swings today for the first time since injuring his oblique a few weeks ago. If all goes well, the Rangers could fast-track him for the March 30 season opener.

While big-league camp ends Saturday, minor-league camp runs into next week and Taveras could get as many as 18 at-bats per day by leading off each inning of the two games played each day in Surprise. That’s the beauty of minor-league games in spring training, the ability to manipulate the rules to help big-league players.

All has to go well today, of course, and probably Thursday just to make sure there aren’t any aftereffects. That would leave Friday through Tuesday for him to show that he’s ready to go.

The thinking here is Taveras opens the season on the injured list and plays the first week on rehab assignment at Triple A Round Rock. It’s a long season, and it’s better to miss a short amount of time now than risk missing a big chunk of time by overcooking the injury.

WBC recap

I’m sure everyone was thinking the same thing I was Tuesday night in the ninth inning of the World Baseball Classic championship game.

Team USA really could have used Jonah Heim.

The Rangers catcher picked up the nickname “Ohtani Killer” last season in Japan, and Shohei Ohtani was on the mound trying to close out a 3-2 victory. Heim hit a grand slam off Ohtani last season and had another good game a week or so later.

Heim was in the greater Surprise area, and Ohtani did close out the victory by striking out Angels teammate Mike Trout.

The tournament was very compelling, not just because of who ended up in the final. There were upsets (Dominican Republic), comebacks (U.S. over Venezuela, Japan over Mexico), injuries (Edwin Diaz, Jose Altuve) and the matchup everyone wanted to see (Ohtani vs. Trout).

The Rangers had only one player, left-hander Martin Perez, participate. Right-handers Nathan Eovaldi (contract) and Jose Leclerc (neck) were held out.


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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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