02/14/2013 3:05 PM ET
Borbon faces long odds to make Rangers roster
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Julio Borbon was the Rangers' Opening Day center fielder in 2010-11. But he has not played in the Major Leagues since May 13, 2011, and is a long shot this spring to make the Opening Day roster. He appears to be third in line for his old job behind Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry.
The complicating factor is Borbon is out of options, meaning he can't be sent back to the Minors without clearing outright waivers.
"I'm in a good position," Borbon said. "I know it's in my hands, not anybody else. I just have to go out and play. All I want is a fair shot, and go out and play as hard as I can."
Borbon will get a fair shot but the Rangers need to see improvement, especially on defense. Borbon is considered a talented player, but perceived to be too erratic on occasion.
"I want to see focus," manager Ron Washington said. "Focus is the whole spring and the whole season. He just loses focus: throws to the wrong base, misses the cutoff man, getting picked off. The main thing is to plan before the play so you can react. He's a center fielder and is in the middle of a lot out there. One letdown can cause havoc so we need to make sure there are not letdowns."
Borbon took a new approach to his offseason. Rather than playing Winter Ball, he spent the offseason working out in California and a facility run by his agent Scott Boras.
Andrus isn't concerned about free agency talk
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus still has two years to go on his contract before he can be a free agent. But that hasn't kept his impending free agency from becoming a hot topic of discussion this winter.
"I feel good .. I'm not going to think about that," Andrus said. "You hear a lot of rumors but that's part of the game. I'm focused on preparing for the season, I'm not putting thought into that."
Andrus' status is an issue because the Rangers are loaded with shortstop prospects. Jurickson Profar and Leury Garcia are in big league camp and Luis Sardinas is not far behind. Andrus' agent, Scott Boras, has a reputation for leading his clients to free agency and signing elsewhere.
There are even those who see Andrus as the eventual successor to Derek Jeter as the Yankees' shortstop.
"It's my career and he's going to do the best for me," Andrus said of his agent. "I'm here and ready to go. I'd love to stay here for a long period of time if we can put something together that's good for me and good for the team. We're going to continue to talk. We've still got two years."
Andrus arrived in camp on Thursday but won't be here long. He is playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic and will join his team later this month. His WBC participation comes after playing 40 games of winter ball in Venezuela. He had October off like the rest of his teammates and did not play in the Caribbean World Series, but Andrus is still playing a lot of baseball leading up to Opening Day.
"I feel good," Andrus said. "I know I've played a lot but I actually took a month, month and a half off. I'm just 24. Sometimes you guys make me look like I'm 30, but I'm still young."
Soto prepared to be Rangers' backup catcher
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Geovany Soto was the Rangers' starting catcher for three weeks after re-signing with the club on Dec. 6. That came to an end three weeks later, when Texas signed A.J. Pierzynski.
Manager Ron Washington has made it clear that Pierzynski will be the No. 1 catcher with Soto in reserve.
"You know something ... that's something I can not control," Soto said. "I have to do my job and whatever they want me to do. The bottom line is to get back to postseason and win the World Series."
Soto was acquired from the Cubs on July 30 and hit .196 with five home runs and 25 RBIs in 47 games for the Rangers. They non-tendered him on Nov. 30 to avoid arbitration and then re-signed him to a $2.75 million contract. Soto ended up taking a big cut after making $4.3 million in 2012.
"They non-tendered me and I don't blame them," Soto said. "I put up numbers that were uncharacteristic of me. I'm capable of a lot more. I just want to make a statement and prove to them that I can play and hit."
He just has to do it as a reserve after being a No. 1 catcher for five years.
"I expect him to come in here, have a good attitude and get better," Washington said. "You never know what will happen. Injuries happen. If you don't have the right attitude and let it affect you, you'll find yourself behind the 8-ball."
Soto will catch. Pierzynski is not going to play every day, but Washington isn't sure when Soto will play.
"It will be a feel," Washington said. "It will be when I feel Pierzynski needs a day. But he's our everyday guy. I've never had an everyday guy at catcher before."
Rangers bring Hernandez aboard to throw BP
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have brought in former Major League outfielder Cesar Hernandez to throw batting practice. The job could turn into a bigger role as an assistant hitting coach for Dave Magadan.
Hernandez played for the Reds from 1992-93 and is good friends with Magadan. Teams are allowed an extra coach and many are using it to hire an assistant hitting coach. The Rangers have been considering that possibility.
Johnny Narron unofficially served in that role during his time with the Rangers before becoming the Brewers' hitting coach this past year.
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.