04/05/2013 7:18 PM ET
Pickoff play proves key for Rangers
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Pitching and a couple of clutch hits proved big for the Rangers on Friday, but so did a pickoff play in the fifth inning of a 3-2 victory over the Angels.
"That was a huge play," pitcher Derek Holland said after the Rangers won their fifth straight home opener.
The play occurred with the score tied at 1. Alberto Callaspo and Chris Iannetta led off the frame with a pair of singles, putting runners on first and second. It also brought Peter Bourjos, the Angels' No. 9 hitter, to the plate in an obvious bunt situation.
The Rangers put on a pickoff play, but it was more designed to keep Callaspo close to second and increase their chances of getting a force at third on the bunt. With Holland in the stretch, third baseman Adrian Beltre started charging for the potential bunt, and shortstop Elvis Andrus broke to cover third.
That induced Callaspo to get a bigger secondary lead, but second baseman Ian Kinsler snuck in behind him and Holland fired to second. Callaspo was tagged out in a rundown.
"[Third-base coach] Dino [Ebel] told Alberto about it, and he didn't react," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's a standard pick play. We have it. Keep your eyes on the pitcher. Alberto got a little too aggressive. He just didn't react."
"We got lucky," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We run that play a lot. You don't always get the guy, but today we did. He was trying to be aggressive. Normally, you're just trying to shorten his lead."
Iannetta went to second during the rundown, and after Bourjos struck out, Mike Trout doubled him home with a run that gave the Angels a one-run lead. But the Angels missed out on at least one more run, and Erick Aybar grounded out to end the inning.
Players not thinking what Andrus deal means for them
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Elvis Andrus has an eight-year, $120 million contract, and his teammates are happy for him.
"He's worked hard for it and deserves it," second baseman Ian Kinsler said before the Rangers' home opener, against the Angels on Friday.
The home opener was not the time for Kinsler or others to reflect on what this might mean for them in the future. Kinsler is signed through 2017, but the Rangers also have middle infielder Jurickson Profar, their top prospect, playing shortstop at Triple-A Round Rock. Club officials admit that somebody could be traded or switch positions at some point, but that decision is far in the future.
"I'm just trying to win today," Kinsler said. "I'm not worried about next year or last year. We want to win as many games as we can and not worry about next year. As far as who has the longer contract or that we've got our infield locked down for years, we not thinking about that. ... 2013 is what's important."
Right now, Andrus is the only one getting a long-term extension. Outfielders David Murphy and Nelson Cruz are unsigned beyond this year and can be free agents at the end of the season. The Rangers have had only token conversations with both about long-term deals, and nothing serious ever came up during Spring Training.
"The season has started," Murphy said. "It's one thing to think about it in the offseason or Spring Training, when things are more relaxed. We're in the regular season now; that's not something to think about or focus on. I have a job to do for my teammates and coaching staff.
"In my mind, I'm not expecting anything to happen. I'm expecting to play hard this year and see what happens in free agency and this offseason."
Despite blister and workload, Darvish set for next start
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish threw 29 pitches in the bullpen on Friday and said he is ready for his next start, against the Angels on Sunday. That will be his first start since throwing 111 pitches against the Astros on Tuesday.
Darvish pitched the final few innings of that outing with a blister on the ring finger of his right hand but said that should not be a problem on Sunday.
"I had the problem in Japan, but it's not really a blister," Darvish said. "The skin just came off. I'm ready to go."
Said manager Ron Washington: "I think it bothers him on certain pitches. He just throws the other ones. He's got 29,000 choices."
Darvish also said that he has had no trouble bouncing back from throwing 111 pitches. The Rangers were concerned about him throwing that many in his first outing after he'd thrown no more than 78 in any outing in Spring Training, but there have been no ill effects.
"It's been a good process of recovery," Darvish said.
Of course, the Rangers let Darvish throw that many because he had a chance to throw a perfect game. He retired the first 26 batters before giving up a single to Marwin Gonzalez with two outs in the ninth. Gonzalez hit a hard grounder back up the middle that went through Darvish's legs, but Darvish hasn't been sitting around wondering what would have happened if he could have put down his glove quicker.
"There are not any ifs in baseball," he said. "That was impossible no matter how you look at it."
Lewis, Soria ready to take next steps
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers brought three pitchers in from Arizona to participate in the home-opener ceremonies. Colby Lewis, Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz spent the day with the Rangers and will return to Arizona this weekend.
Lewis and Soria are about to take the next big steps in their recovery from major arm surgery. Both have been throwing bullpen sessions for the past month, now they are expected to graduate to batting practice.
"Of course it's a big step," Soria said. "I've finished my bullpens, and I'm ready for the next step. So far everything has been outstanding."
Soria, signed as a free agent in the offseason after six years with the Royals, underwent Tommy John surgery on April 3, 2012. He could be ready to return to the bullpen in four to six weeks if all continues to progress with his throwing.
Lewis underwent surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon on July 27. He is coming back as a starter rather than a reliever, so he will probably need more time to build up innings than Soria. The Rangers are still hoping he could be an option for the rotation before June 1.
Profar hopes to follow in Andrus' footsteps
ROUND ROCK, Texas -- The next time the Rangers sign a shortstop to a long-term deal, Jurickson Profar hopes it's him.
The Rangers announced an eight-year, $120 million contract extension for Elvis Andrus on Thursday. Profar, the No. 1 prospect in baseball according to MLB.com, is happy for his fellow shortstop and hopes the Rangers sign him to a similar deal in the future.
"I wish," Profar said. "Good for him. He's a great guy. It's great for him."
Profar made his debut for Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday, going 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in a 3-1 win over Omaha. He spent most of last season with Double-A Frisco, hitting .281 with 14 home runs and 62 RBIs in 126 games before being called up to the Rangers in September.
Profar, who texted Andrus to congratulate him on the extension, hit .176 with two RBIs and two runs in eight Major League games.
With Ian Kinsler in the first year of a five-year extension he signed last April and Andrus locked up through at least 2018, something will have to change before Profar, 20, can earn a spot in the everyday lineup. He is playing mostly shortstop for Round Rock, although he wouldn't mind playing second base.
"I grew up playing [shortstop] so that's why I like it there," he said. "Second base, it's a little different position. It's a shorter throw, and you don't have to do a lot."
• During his pregame news conference, Josh Hamilton singled out third baseman Adrian Beltre among the former teammates he admires.
Said Hamilton: "You see it every day. He's not afraid to support his teammates, yell at his teammates, cheer for his teammates, encourage his teammates.
"He's got his antics on the field, too. He just has fun when you're out there, and that's the way the game needs to be played. Over a 162-game schedule and in Spring Training, seeing somebody do it every day like that is impressive. I know there are days he doesn't want to do it, but he still does it."
• Craig Gentry was the starting center fielder on Friday, and manager Ron Washington said that Leonys Martin will be there on Saturday, when the Angels face right-hander Tommy Hanson. Gentry also was in the eighth spot, ahead of Mitch Moreland at the bottom of the order. Washington wanted Gentry's right-handed bat between that of two left-handed hitters: A.J. Pierzynski and Moreland. The first seven spots in the order remain unchanged through four games.
• The Mariners' rotation is lined up so that Felix Hernandez will pitch next Thursday in the first of a four-game series against the Rangers at Safeco Field.
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.