Poor Cactus mark doesn't concern Rangers
Washington, players focused on getting prepared for season
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rangers do not have a very good won-loss record this spring.
"Record in what?" infielder Michael Young said. "The Cactus League? Forget the Cactus League. I don't care about the Cactus League. It doesn't mean anything."
For the record though, the Rangers were 5-14-1 going into Friday's game against the Giants. That gave them the honor of having the worst record in the Major Leagues for the spring.
"Thank you for making me aware of the situation," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "I did not know that. It's an indication of absolutely nothing."
"I knew it wasn't good, but it hardly has any bearing on April 6 and beyond," outfielder David Murphy said. "Nothing at all. ... We have a bunch of talented players who think more about preparation than wins and losses. Obviously, if you play the game, you want to win every single day. But you have to evaluate it from the [vantage point] that most of our starting nine aren't in there every single game, and they are definitely not in there after the sixth inning."
The Rangers brought a formidable starting nine to Scottsdale to play the Giants on Friday. They had the first team infield with Kinsler, first baseman Mitch Moreland, shortstop Elvis Andrus and third baseman Adrian Beltre. Murphy was in left, with Josh Hamilton in center and Nelson Cruz in right. Yorvit Torrealba was the catcher and Young was the designated hitter, with the Giants agreeing to play American League rules in their own ballpark.
Manager Ron Washington didn't want them playing all nine innings. But there are two weeks to go before Opening Day and Washington does want to start playing his regulars almost every day from this point to the end of the spring.
"I haven't had the regulars out there on a regular basis. But starting today until Spring Training is over, they'll be out there plenty and they'll be out there late in the game," Washington said. "We've had a lot of young kids we've been sifting through lately, and I can think of at least four games that we didn't lock down late. The only thing that I'm concerned about right now is being healthy."
From a health standpoint, the Rangers have had a good spring to this point. The biggest concern is Neftali Feliz, who left his last start on Tuesday after three innings with tightness in his right shoulder. The Rangers haven't shut him down, they are just being cautious with him. Right now, Feliz is being limited to flat-ground throwing and being re-evaluated daily.
There is a possibility that Feliz may not be ready for the start of the season, but the Rangers have Scott Feldman slotted into his spot, if needed. Alexi Ogando is also a possibility.
"We've got guys who can step up and be ready, if for some reason this becomes more than what they say it is," Washington said.
The Rangers were concerned coming into camp about Moreland's surgically-repaired right wrist, but he is swinging the bat with only occasional stiffness. Catcher Mike Napoli continues to recover from a lingering high-ankle sprain and reliever Mike Adams is catching up after offseason hernia surgery. The Rangers did lose pitcher Matt West early in camp to an elbow injury that shut him down for six weeks, but he was not expected to compete for a Major League job.
"It has been a very good camp from a health standpoint," said assistant general manager Thad Levine, who delivers the daily injury updates. "The injury sustained by Matt early wasn't good, but the group competing for the 25-man roster has stayed healthy for the most part. We're monitoring Feliz, but there is enough time to resolve that. Overall it has been a very healthy camp."
If records in Arizona meant anything, the Rangers would start Matt Harrison on Saturday and Yu Darvish on Sunday when they play their only two games of the spring against the Angels. Instead, Harrison and Darvish will do their work in Minor League games, while Greg Reynolds starts on Saturday. Sunday's starter has still not been announced.
The Angels, having signed first baseman Albert Pujols and former Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson in the offseason, may be the Rangers' biggest rival in the AL West, but that won't start in earnest until they meet for the first time on May 11 in Arlington.
The Rangers went into Friday with 10 games left in Arizona. They need a winning record in those 10 games to avoid tying or breaking the club record for most losses in Spring Training. The last time the Rangers lost 19 games in Spring Training was two years ago.
They ended up in the World Series.
"We know what we're capable of doing and how good we are capable of being," Young said. "Our focus is getting our work in and coming out healthy. It's all about making sure the work gets done, the hitters getting their timing and rhythm, and the pitchers getting their command and endurance. By the time the season rolls around, it will be a whole different ballgame."
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.