Inbox: Ogando to remain part of rotation?
Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers Rangers' fans questions
Alexi Ogando was lights-out in his first start. Nolan Ryan said his stay in the rotation would likely be temporary, but that didn't look temporary to me. Did it?
-- Sandy A., Oklahoma City
Again, the old adage that possession is nine-tenths of the law applies here. Ogando is in the rotation, and while he would be the most logical of the five to go back to the bullpen at some point, it would be completely illogical to take him out of the rotation if he is pitching like this. One start does not secure anybody a job, but the five starters currently in the rotation are going to stay in the rotation if they keep pitching well. They shouldn't be led to believe they are keeping a spot warm for somebody else.With it finally decided that Neftali Feliz is going to finish games, would multiple-inning saves be out of the question, a la Rollie Fingers? This could serve two purposes: 1. Increase his innings, so if they decided to start him in 2012, he would be able to provide almost a full season of starts. 2. The term "shortening the game" has become popular, so what better way to shorten a game than to have your best arm pitch two or three innings at the end of the game?
-- Jaden K., Oakland
Feliz pitched 69 1/3 innings last year while saving 40 games. From 1972-76, the Athletics used Fingers strictly as a reliever and he averaged 123 innings a season. He also averaged 21 saves. One big difference: the Rangers had seven complete games last year. The A's staff averaged 42 complete games in 1972-76. They could use Fingers for multiple innings because they didn't need him as much as the Rangers need Feliz.Why is left field easier on Josh Hamilton's body than center field?
-- Tim V., Arlington
American League center fielders averaged 2.76 total chances per nine innings last season. All left fielders averaged 2.10 chances and right fielders averaged 2.14 chances. So the theory is fewer chances and less ground to cover means less wear and tear on the body. Two other theories: One, it is more acceptable to ease up chasing difficult-to-reach foul balls than it is fair balls in the gaps. Secondly, while any outfielder can get hurt hitting a wall in any of the three spots, the walls in left and right are closer. Therefore, you get to them quicker and you perhaps don't run into them at full speed. Or not.
Have a question about the Rangers?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Rangers beat reporter T.R. Sullivan for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
Last year, the Rangers seemed to make more of a transition to playing "small ball" instead of slugging their way into the playoffs. With our current powerful lineup, are you a little concerned that our team might abandon some of the "small/smart ball" and return to the "slugging" mentality?
-- Josh R., Weatherford, Texas
Not too sure how much "small ball" Nelson Cruz and Hamilton played last year. Also pretty sure that Michael Young's approach to hitting hasn't changed too much over the years. The best thing the Rangers did last year was cut down their strikeouts. They struck out 267 times less than the year before, but also scored just three more runs. They talked about working the pitcher more, but they saw 3.82 pitches per plate appearance in 2009 and 3.72 in '10. Really, the only significant thing that stands out with new hitting coach Thad Bosley's approach that's difference is this: If the Rangers get a good pitch early in the count that they can drive ... let it rip.In one of the spring games, a situation brought my attention to this possibly unlucky scoring situation. If a batter is definitely trying to sacrifice a runner from first to second and the pitcher throws it into right field, does the batter go from a sacrifice and no at-bat to an error by the pitcher and an at-bat in the scorebook?
-- Ken B., Kilgore, Texas
Based on how you describe the play unfolding, it should be scored a sacrifice hit and error on the pitcher. There would be no at-bat.Who was the player to be named later in the Jarrod Saltalamacchia trade?
-- Jose D., Pharr, Texas
The Rangers received three players in exchange for Saltalamacchia. They received first baseman Chris McGuiness and pitcher Roman Mendez on the day of the trade. Two weeks later, they added catcher Michael Thomas and turned him into a pitcher.Remember the play last year where Young rounded third, was ruled to have made contact with the third-base coach, and called out? Do you know if close calls, or calls on seldom-used rules are part of an offseason "peer review" or something similar by the umpire's union? Have you heard anything specific about that play being reviewed?
-- Michael S., Texarkana, Texas
Major League umpires are regularly reviewed and graded by their peers, but can't tell you if that play was particularly discussed. But postseason assignments are given out based on merit and how an umpire does during the regular season.I do not recall any right-handed hitters that have hit a home run in a game to the upper deck in right field like Nelson Cruz did against the Red Sox. Is he the first, if not who else has? I would not be surprised to see Vladimir Guerrero's on the list if there is anybody else.
-- Jacob P., Fort Worth, Texas
According to the Rangers' public relations staff, Chad Curtis was the only other right-handed hitter to reach the upper deck in right field. Hard to believe that Juan Gonzalez and Alex Rodriguez didn't reach it, either.It seems like most predictions for the new season have the Rangers near the top of the league, but not quite winning it all. Most say we need an ace in the rotation. Who would be looking to deal their ace? And would the Rangers deal for one again like they did with Cliff Lee?
-- Cody F., Valley Mills, Texas
First of all, Ryan said last week the Rangers would have the financial flexibility to pursue pitching help this summer. As far as who would be willing to move an ace, it all depends on who falls out of the race. There are a couple dozen names you can throw out there -- Roy Oswalt, Chris Carpenter, Mark Buehrle, Ryan Dempster, Edwin Jackson -- but how many who will truly be out there will be better than what the Rangers have right now?What is the word on Kasey Kiker and Martin Perez? I haven't heard too much about them this spring, much less seen them. What is the Rangers' master plan with these two quality lefties with Michael Kirkman, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison just getting started?
-- Jacob P., Houston
Perez is pitching at Double-A Frisco and Kiker, Texas' No. 1 pick in 2006, is going back to Class A Myrtle Beach in the hopes of finding some command and control after walking 46 in 40 innings last year.I was expecting good things out of Eric Hurley this spring. Any chance we see him in Arlington this year?
-- Bryan M., Bedford, Texas
Hurley, after missing two complete seasons, pitched very well in Spring Training, allowing one run on four hits and two walks over nine innings while striking out five. He is in the Triple-A Round Rock rotation, and now it's a matter of continuing to pitch well and there being a need at the Major League level.What are the chances of C.J. Wilson staying long-term with the Rangers?
-- Mark G., LaFeria, Texas
If Wilson just repeats what he did last season -- 15-8, 3.35 ERA -- he should be one of the top free-agent pitchers on the market. But the Rangers may be in better position to sign him than anybody, except of course the Yankees. Look at the big-market teams. The Red Sox, Angels, Giants and Phillies have established rotations locked up through next season and the Mets and the Dodgers have unresolved ownership issues. Maybe somebody from the Midwest -- Cardinals, Cubs, Tigers, White Sox -- or possibly the Braves, but they shouldn't be in any better position than the Rangers. But it is a long way to November.Hank Blalock was playing with the Tampa Bay Rays last year. However, I do not find him on their roster for 2011. Has he retired?
-- Dennis W., Springtown, Texas
As of this point, the former two-time All-Star has not signed with anybody. He turned 30 in November.I still can't listen to the Rangers on 103.3 ESPN on the radio, due to their weak signal. I thought that the Rangers said this would be fixed before the start of the season. I e-mailed the Rangers about this, but haven't received an answer. Will it be fixed? When?
-- Richard R., Granbury, Texas
You are hardly the only frustrated person out there. Still getting many complaints about this. Look, for $20, you get can the audio of every single Major League team through your computer on MLB.com, including the Rangers. That's the best suggestion. Otherwise you can try to pick up 1380 AM out of Brownwood, 900 AM out of Hamilton, 1340 AM out of Marble Falls or 1260 AM out of San Angelo.Where can I find the old WBAP theme song for Rangers broadcasts back in the 1970s and '80s? I'd love to hear it again.
-- Scott H., Flower Mound, Texas
Especially if you live south of Dallas.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.