Notes: Narron back in the fold
Youngsters showing swagger; Fukumori fitting in fine
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Jerry Narron is returning to the Rangers after all.Narron, who managed the Rangers in 2001-02, has been hired as a consultant and will fill a variety of roles in scouting and player development. His brother Johnny was hired this winter as a special assistant to mentor outfielder Josh Hamilton, but Jerry's duties will be unrelated to that. "Cleveland has done this in the past with guys like Mike Hargrove, Buck Showalter and Terry Francona, guys who have managerial experience in the past and worked as special assistants," general manager Jon Daniels said. "Jerry will be able to provide us the same thing on a part-time basis." Narron, who is still being paid by the Cincinnati Reds after being dismissed as their manager last summer, will help in a variety of roles, including scouting, instruction and assisting farm director Scott Servais. "Anything they want me to do I'll do," Narron said. "A number of different clubs talked to me about doing the same things. But after talking to everybody in baseball, Jon Daniels has a lot of respect in baseball. They have things going in the right direction, and I'm excited to be a part of it." The Rangers talked with Narron over the offseason about being their third-base coach, but he was not ready to return to a full-time job in the big leagues. His family still lives in North Carolina, and he wants to be near them as much as possible. But he also admitted that he didn't want to cut himself off completely from baseball. "I love the game, and I want to be a part of it," Narron said. Narron was the Rangers' third-base coach under Johnny Oates before replacing him as manager on May 4, 2001. He was replaced by Showalter after the 2002 season. Youthful swagger: Veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd has noticed something distinct about the many young players the Rangers have in camp. "We got a little cockiness going on," Byrd said. "It's not really something you can notice from outside, but you can definitely feel it on the field."
Byrd considers that to be a good thing."You don't want these guys to lose that swagger," Byrd said. "When young guys come up with the Yankees, Derek Jeter makes sure they don't lose their swagger. Jeter, Bernie Williams, they took care of those guys. You don't want to lose that swagger because once you lose it, it's hard to find it again." Byrd said it's a little different from when he first came up to the big leagues and the young guys were put in their place by the veterans. "I wasn't allowed to say anything," Byrd said. "I wasn't allowed to even say, 'Hello,' to the [clubhouse attendants]. I'm an old school guy, but I'm not going to be like that. But don't get me wrong, I'm going to put them in their place if I have to." Friendly game: The first-team won Monday's intrasquad contest with a 4-0 victory on the Nolan Ryan Field. Notable: Gerald Laird was the starting catcher on the first-team, which included all the regulars except Milton Bradley. Murphy started in left and Marlon Byrd was in right. The only pitcher to give up runs was left-hander Bill White, who allowed four in the third inning. The Rangers have made some changes in his delivery to smooth him out rather than have him throw as hard as he can. He's still working on those. Scott Feldman pitched a scoreless inning with the three-quarter delivery that he started using last year. Said manager Ron Washington: "It makes his ball heavier and his movement a little more pronounced." Hank Blalock played three innings at third base for the first time since his shoulder surgery in May, but he didn't have to make any throws. "I'm not concerned about that," said Washington. "Hank has been throwing the ball well all spring. Until he gives us a reason to think otherwise, Hank is complete." Fukumori watch: Interesting moment in the Rangers clubhouse on Tuesday morning when Japanese reliever Kazuo Fukumori, who doesn't speak much English, just walked over to Bradley, who was sitting at his locker, and gave him a smile and friendly pat on the shoulder. Fukumori, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason, is making a concerted effort to fit in with the rest of the team. "I think he's got a great personality," bullpen coach Dom Chiti said. "Some of it gets lost in translation, but he has a good way about him. I think he's a quiet prankster. He's got a funny little smile that makes me think he's got some trickery in him." Fukumori threw a scoreless inning in the intrasquad game, striking out Michael Young with a runner on third and one out. It was the first time he faced hitters in eight months after undergoing elbow surgery. "It was an important outing today," Fukumori said. Front-office matters: Meanwhile upstairs in the front office:
The Rangers agreed to contracts with five more players: pitchers Brandon McCarthy, Wes Littleton and A.J. Murray; third baseman Travis Metcalf and outfielder David Murphy. The Rangers have four players still unsigned: pitchers Thomas Diamond, Robinson Tejeda and C.J. Wilson and outfielder Jason Botts. The Rangers expect them done by Wednesday's game. Daniels met with his eight pro scouts on Tuesday to go over their assignments and responsibilities for the spring and talk about possible trades that might arise. The Rangers have some bullpen and catching depth that might be of interest to other teams. He said it: "I don't know how to write. I'm a ballplayer." -- Reliever Eddie Guardado, joking with fans who were asking for his autograph. Briefly: Former Rangers third-base coach Dave Oliver was in camp. He is no longer working in baseball but is friends with Rangers scout Jay Robertson. ...Tejeda is expected back in camp on Tuesday after his wife gave birth to a daughter, Amber, in Boston on Sunday. ...Wednesday's game against the Royals will count in the Cactus League standings. ...What they do in the clubhouse in the mornings : On Monday pitchers and catchers went over signals. On Tuesday Charley Pride is giving a concert in the clubhouse.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.