SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Mike Olt made his spring debut at first base. Olt, who has played third base in the Minors the past two years, played four innings in place of Mitch Moreland. He dropped one throw for an error but the Rangers were hardly concerned by that.The Rangers like what they have seen from Olt at first base. They asked him to learn the position to give him more options and so far he has taken to it with no problems. "He's a baseball player," manager Ron Washington said. "He's got good aptitude and a good work ethic. He's a baseball player. He can do anything out there. He's got good hands, a good throwing arm and good instincts. He's got it down because he wants to get it down. You give him information and he'll apply it." Olt, who is not expected to make the Rangers out of camp, will play first and third base in the Minor Leagues this season
Moreland's HR a good sign for repaired wrist
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- It may be time for Mitch Moreland to stop having people ask about his right wrist. It looked good on Sunday afternoon at Surprise Stadium.Moreland, who had surgery on the wrist at the end of November, crushed a fifth-inning home run in the Rangers' 6-1 loss to the Royals. Moreland, who grounded out in his first at-bat, crushed a 2-0 pitch up onto the grass beyond the Rangers' bullpen in right field. "The wrist is good," Moreland said. "I've stayed on the same program all spring, haven't done anything different and it's been good." Moreland hit the home run with his hands. That is significant. The wrist bothered him so much in the second half of last season that Moreland was forced to change his batting approach. He tried to cheat.
That means he tried to start his swing sooner and use more of his body to generate power. That kept him from staying back, seeing the pitch longer and using his hands to generate bat speed. He didn't battle pitchers the way he did when he was healthy and the difference was drastic.Moreland had a .381 on-base percentage and a .517 slugging percentage in his first 55 games, and a .279 on-base percentage with a .347 slugging percentage in his final 80 games. "The main thing is seeing pitches and working counts," Moreland said. "I got away from that last year. I want to get back to my game of fighting pitchers." Manager Ron Washington said he never thought about shutting down Moreland in the second half of the season last year. "He's a pro," Washington said. "He's a battler. We just hope he's healthy. If he's healthy and has no problems with his wrist, we look for him to do great things this year."
Rangers will have Darvish face AL West teams
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish pitches against the Padres on Wednesday. His next start has not been announced but most likely would be the following Monday against the Mariners.Manager Ron Washington said the Rangers are not going to hide Darvish in a 'B' or Minor League games if they are playing an American League West rival. "If we had a closer coming over from the National League we might try to hide him," Washington said. "But when it's his time and it's against an AL West team, go get them." In the past the Rangers often had pitchers like Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla get their work done on the back fields rather than the Cactus League game. The Rangers might let Colby Lewis do that if he wants, but Washington said the intention right now is for all other starters to pitch in Cactus League.
Lefty Gonzalez declines non-roster spot
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-handed reliever Michael Gonzalez has declined to come to Rangers camp as a non-roster player. The Rangers made the offer earlier in camp and Gonzalez let them know of his decision.The Rangers are looking for left-handed relief and their leading candidate pitched two innings against the Royals on Sunday. Michael Kirkman allowed four runs in the fifth inning on five hits but none were hit particularly hard. An error by second baseman Ian Kinsler kept Kirkman from getting out of the inning with just one run scored. Kirkman then went out for the sixth inning and retired the side in order. "I thought he made good pitches," manager Ron Washington said. "Base hits are base hits. They didn't hit him hard. The thing I liked is he didn't back down. He got back up there and kept coming. I thought he threw the ball well." Two other candidates will pitch on Monday. Mitch Stetter is pitching in the Cactus League game against the Royals and Joe Beimel will pitch in a morning intrasquad game. Beimel has been sidelined with stiffness in his left elbow but is ready to pitch in game conditions. The Rangers are also going to pitch left-hander Neal Cotts in the Cactus League game against the Royals. He is still working out of the Minor League clubhouse and not officially in big league camp. But the Rangers are going to take a look at him and see if he can be a candidate for their bullpen.
Rangers' West begins strengthening program
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitcher Matt West will not be able to throw for six weeks because of a sprained ligament in his right elbow but already has begun a strengthening program."It's just a minor setback," West said. "I'm not happy about it but I'm not getting depressed. I'm going to come in, do all my work in getting stronger and get this thing right. When I'm able to go full blast, I'll take off again." Catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who is recovering from a virus, remains limited in his workouts and the Rangers aren't sure when he'll be ready for a game. Outfielder Brad Hawpe (sore right hamstring) is also limited for at least a couple of more days. He is taking batting practice and doing his throwing.
The Rangers have fewer than 100 obstructed view and standing-room only seats left for Opening Day. The Rangers and the Royals drew 7,158 fans, the largest opening-game crowd in the 10-year history at Surprise Stadium. Michael Young received the Joan Shafer Award as the Surprise Recreation Campus Player of the Decade before Sunday's game. This is the 10th straight year the Rangers have trained in Surprise and Young is the only player to have been here the entire time. The award was named after the former mayor who was instrumental in getting the facility built for the Rangers and Royals. The American League championship banner was raised in center field before the game as well and current mayor Sharon Wolcott threw out the first pitch. Rangers staff that have been here 10 years include Triple-A manager Bobby Jones, bullpen catcher Josh Frasier, general manager Jon Daniels, director of travel Chris Lyngos, trainers Jamie Reed and Kevin Harmon, and clubhouse men Chris Guth and David Bailes. The Rangers have changed their Monday 'B' game against the Royals into a limited intrasquad game. Martin Perez, Neil Ramirez, Wilmer Font and Joe Beimel are scheduled to pitch.
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.