Inbox: What will Texas do with Pudge?
Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers Rangers fans' questions
What are the Rangers' plans for Ivan Rodriquez after this season? Assuming that he does not retire after this year, and wants to stay with this team, do they demote or trade either Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Taylor Teagarden? Would Pudge be given a shot at the starting position next year?
-- Jim C., Dublin, Texas
The Rangers are strongly considering re-signing Rodriguez as a free agent in the offseason. With Saltalamacchia coming off right shoulder surgery -- scheduled for Monday -- and Teagarden having yet to establish himself as an everyday player, Texas will need the catching depth. Rodriguez could split time with one of those two guys -- most likely Saltalamacchia -- while the other stays ready at Triple-A Oklahoma City.What are the chances of Scott Feldman winning the American League Cy Young Award or Elvis Andrus winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award?
-- Brendan S., Carrollton, Texas
Much better for Andrus than Feldman. Andrus appears to be the leading position-player candidate and he has already been endorsed by several prominent national writers, including Peter Gammons. His chief competition is Athletics closer Andrew Bailey. Feldman's best chance is to win out and be the AL's only 20-game winner. It's going to hurt him not being in the top five in ERA, strikeouts, innings pitched and complete games.Do you think Neftali Feliz will ever be a starter?
-- Jason M., Fort Worth, Texas
Right now, assuming Kevin Millwood is back next year, the Rangers' rotation begins with him, Feldman, Tommy Hunter and Derek Holland. Matt Harrison, Dustin Nippert and Brandon McCarthy compete for the fifth-starter spot. The guess here is Feliz stays in the bullpen. Remember, Frank Francisco can be a free agent after 2010 and C.J. Wilson after '11.I would like a status update on "The Forgotten One." How is Eric Hurley's rehab coming along?
-- Jason W., Azle, Texas
He is on a throwing program in Arizona. He is expected to throw off the mound in November and to be full strength by Spring Training. He will likely start the season in the Minor Leagues but could conceivably be an option by next June. Hurley's absence this season because of a rotator cuff injury in his right shoulder has been one of the biggest overlooked setbacks for the Rangers of the season.With Josh Hamilton and Michael Young out, why are the Rangers not calling up Justin Smoak? I know he is planning on playing in the Baseball World Cup, but isn't the push for the playoffs more important?
-- Paul R., Keller, Texas
Smoak was only hitting .244 with a .363 slugging percentage, four home runs and 23 RBIs in 54 games and 197 at-bats at Triple-A Oklahoma City before leaving for the World Cup. Those aren't exactly numbers that demand a promotion under any circumstances. Still, at this point, it's hard to imagine him being any worse than ...The Rangers are up, 5-1, over Baltimore in the seventh, and Feliz comes in to pitch 2 1/3 innings. Why does Ron Washington let him throw 33 pitches when the game is already in hand against a team with the second-worst record in the AL?
-- David B., Broken Arrow, Okla.
Here is the manager's thinking: Once you've committed to using Feliz, you might as well let him finish the game, because you're not going to be able to use him the next day anyway. Secondly, you save other arms for another day. Third, whether it's against the Orioles or the Yankees, when you're in a pennant race and have a chance to win a game, you nail it down as best you can. The Rangers -- of all teams -- can't afford to take anybody lightly.
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Any word on signing Hamilton to a long-term deal? Even though he's had a run of bad luck with injuries, I love the way he plays 100 percent, and obviously, when he is on, he's one of the top hitters in the game.
-- Nathan H., Edmond, Okla.
It's pretty obvious that it would be in the best interests of both the Rangers and Hamilton to postpone long-term contract discussions for at least another year. Players certainly don't want to do one after a poor season statistically and clubs are reluctant after a season plagued by so many injuries.Will FOX Sports Southwest carry Rangers games past the 2010 season?
-- Tom A., Fort Worth, Texas
The Rangers have agreements with FOX Sports Southwest and KXTA Ch. 21 that run through 2014. Starting next year, Ch. 21 will show 25 games and FSS will show at least 130 games. The rest will be national broadcasts on ESPN, FOX or TBS.Are all the Minor League jobs appointed by the Major League franchise that owns them or are they staffed on a team-by-team basis? I want a job in the industry and I don't want to leave any stone unturned.
-- Judson B., Dallas
On-field personnel -- coaches, managers, trainers -- are hired by the Major League team, but the front office and support staff are hired by the Minor League franchise. The best place to get a job in baseball is at the Jobs Fair at the annual Winter Meetings in December.I assume that the Rangers' home clubhouse is nice, but what about the clubhouses on the road? Are they as luxurious, or do the opposing teams try to make them as bare and spartan as possible?
-- Tamara V., Dallas
The visiting clubhouse manager and his staff rely a great deal on tips, so visiting clubhouses are also extremely well-kept, furnished and supplied with amenities. The clubhouse in Cleveland has both Big Hunt and Golden Tee video game machines, a pingpong table and a big screen with a PlayStation.Would Vicente Padilla be "guaranteed" a World Series ring no matter the outcome if the Dodgers and Rangers were the two teams in the series?
-- Cody C., Llano, Texas
Yes. If the Rangers win the World Series, Padilla would get a ring. So too would Kris Benson, Kevin Richardson, Craig Gentry, Greg Golson, Brandon Boggs and Joaquin Arias.What are the chances the Rangers try to sign Ben Sheets this winter? Would he sign a Minor League deal, or would they have to offer him a guaranteed contract?
-- Bobby Y., Hugo, Okla.
Congratulations on being the 1,000th person to send in a Ben Sheets question this year! Sheets will likely sign a Minor League deal with somebody, and the Rangers have as good a chance as anybody. But the medical reports in his comeback are still murky and mixed.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.