Rangers head to Vegas, won't stay in Vegas
Weather permitting, split squad to play Cubs twice this weekend
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have received one small additional honor for winning two American League pennants. They get to spend one Spring Training weekend in Las Vegas.Well, some of them get to do that. The Rangers will send 20 position players and 13 pitchers to Las Vegas for a two-game series -- weather permitting -- with the Cubs this Saturday and Sunday. It has become an annual trip for the Cubs, who are going to Las Vegas for the eighth straight spring. The organizers of Big League Weekend look for a high-profile opponent and the Rangers obviously fit that description after winning two straight pennants. The rest of the team will remain in Arizona for split-squad games -- again, weather permitting -- against the D-backs on Saturday in Surprise and the Brewers on Sunday in Phoenix.
"The best part is getting to play four games in two days," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We get to see a lot of guys and guys get an extra opportunity. If the weather holds, it will be good experience for our players. There are a lot of logistics involved, a lot of planning and moving that you normally don't have in Spring Training. But doing it once in a while is not a bad thing."Both games will begin at 3:05 p.m. CT and will be broadcast back to Texas on KSEN 103.3 and FOX Sports Southwest, and on MLB.TV. The Rangers' traveling roster includes catcher Yorvit Torrealba; infielders Mitch Moreland, Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre; and outfielders Josh Hamilton, Julio Borbon and Nelson Cruz. The Rangers are leaving behind catcher Mike Napoli, infielders Michael Young and Ian Kinsler and outfielder David Murphy to play in the games in Arizona. Manager Ron Washington is expected to be in Las Vegas on Saturday after returning to New Orleans for two days because of a death in the family. "I told him that if he wanted to spend the weekend with [wife] Gerry, that was fine with me," Daniels said. "But his intention is to be there." Derek Holland and Matt Harrison are also going. Holland is scheduled to start on Saturday and Harrison on Sunday. The Cubs are the home team for both games so the Rangers won't be able to use the designated hitter. "I have never been there before. It will be neat to see the city," Harrison said. "But the focus is getting my work in, getting to my pitch count in four innings, executing my pitches and commanding the baseball." Scott Feldman will pitch in Arizona on Saturday and rookie Robbie Ross will pitch on Sunday. The Rangers wanted Holland and Harrison in Las Vegas so pitching coach Mike Maddux can watch them pitch. Relievers Mike Adams and Alexi Ogando are also going. "Nobody asked me," Holland said. "I'm a young player. It doesn't bother me. I don't have that power. I have to be a veteran ... a salty veteran. It's different ... it's cool. I've never played there before. The big thing is my parents will be there. They have never been to Vegas, so it will be a good experience for them." The Rangers are hoping to dodge some messy weather, but the forecast has improved in the last 24 hours. There is a 70 percent chance of rain late in the day on Saturday, but the forecast for Sunday is partly cloudy with only a 20 percent chance of rain. "Hopefully we can get up there and play," Harrison said. "That would really stink if we go up there and not get anything done." There is also a 90 percent chance of rain on Sunday in the Phoenix area, which could threaten the Rangers' game against the Brewers. Maddux admitted he is concerned about weather disrupting his pitching in the next few days. "I'm big time worried there," Maddux said. "We've got four games in two days and a chance that we don't play on Sunday in either place. The good news is we're playing the Cubs, so they'll be in that same predicament. If we don't Saturday's game in against the Cubs, we play them Tuesday so we might be able to play a doubleheader Tuesday -- 12 or 14 innings. Whatever the ball clubs need. "Same thing with the game Sunday. ... We play the Brewers next here [on Monday]. We should be able to work something out. We are off on Wednesday. If need be, some guys may have to work Wednesday. I hope not. I had golf scheduled." The Rangers had two games scheduled against the Rockies in Las Vegas at the end of 2004 Spring Training and both were rained out. The Cubs started going up there the following spring and 13 of the 14 games played there have been sellouts. The Rangers and the Cubs will be playing at Cashman Field, home of the Las Vegas 51s, the Triple-A affiliate of the Blue Jays.
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.