Texas Rangers News and Notes
BY DIC HUMPHREY
ARLINGTON, Texas – The biggest Ranger news of late is the
election of Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez to the Hall of Fame. He became
just the second catcher to be elected on the first ballot. Johnny
Bench was the other. They are clearly the two best catchers in
baseball over the past 70 years.
The vote was close. The requirement for election was to be named
on 75% of the ballots, which this year totaled 332 votes. Rodriguez
received 336. It is surprising that the vote was close at all. He
played 21 seasons and won the Gold Glove Award for defensive
excellence 13 times. (Bench won 10 Gold Gloves.) Rodriguez also made
the All-Star team 14 times and finished his career with a .296 batting
average, 311 home runs and 1,332 RBIs. He caught more games than any
player in history.
The Hall of Fame now dictates the team cap that the player’s
bust will have. Rodriguez played for six teams, but spent his first
12 seasons (1991-2002) with Texas and also played 28 games for the
Rangers in 2009. He’ll be depicted with a Ranger cap.
The Hall of Fame induction weekend will take place over the
weekend of July 28-31 in Cooperstown, New York. Rodriguez will be
joined by two other players – Jeff Bagwell, who played his entire
career with the Houston Astros, and Tim Raines, Sr., who played a
majority of his career with the Montreal Expos. Former
Commissioner Bud Selig and former front office executive John
Schuerholz will also be inducted.
The Rangers have also announced that they are retiring
Rodriguez’s uniform number seven. The announcement was made at last
week’s winter banquet, but the official ceremony to retire the number
will be scheduled in August after the induction ceremony in
Cooperstown. (Home Saturday games in August this year are the 12th
when the Rangers play Houston and the 19th when they play the White
Number seven will become the fourth number retired by Texas.
Number 26 (Johnny Oates), number 34 (Nolan Ryan) and 42 (Jackie
Robinson) are the other three.
The Rangers have also signed starting pitcher Tyson Ross. Ross
had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in October, so will not be ready
to pitch on opening day, but he is expected to be ready to join the
rotation early in the season. He was once a highly regarded pitcher
that has been sidetracked by injury. If he returns to form, the
Rangers will have a find.
The rotation then is Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Martin Perez,
Andrew Cashner and Ross. With Ross’s injury, at least one rotation
spot will be up for grabs in spring training. A. J. Griffin is back,
and he is joined by usual suspects Nick Martinez and Alex “Chi Chi”
Gonzalez. The Rangers also signed veteran Dillon Gee to a minor
league deal with an invite to spring training. Gee, who played at
UT-Arlington, was 8-9 with a 4.68 ERA for the Royals last year.
Another candidate is Rule 5 draftee Michael Hauschild, who the Rangers
selected from Houston. Hauschild must play the entire season on the
Rangers’ roster or be offered back to Houston.
It is doubtful that Colby Lewis will be returning. The Rangers
offered to sign him to a minor league contract with an invite to
spring training, but Lewis wants a Major League contract.
The bullpen took a hit this week when Jake Diekman underwent
surgery to remove his colon. He’ll be lost for at least the first
half of the season. Diekman was the main left-hander in the pen, so
the Rangers definitely have an opening to be filled in spring
The anticipated deal with Josh Hamilton was finalized. He
signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
He’s for sure a candidate for one of the two holes in the Rangers’
batting order. He has even floated the idea of playing first base to
increase his odds of making the team.
Another candidate for those two spots is veteran first baseman
James Loney, who also signed a minor league contract with an invite to
spring training. He’s a .284 hitter with 108 home runs in his nine
Around Christmas, the Rangers were rumored to be close on a contract
with Mike Napoli. Now more than a month later, the deal hasn’t
happened. The hang up is rumored to the length of the contract. The
Rangers want to sign him to just one year.
There is now talk that Chris Carter is on the radar screen.
Carter has a career batting average of .218 and has struck out 875
times in seven seasons; but he hits home runs. He hit 41 in 2016, and
over the last four years when he played more than 100 games, he
averaged 33 home runs per season.
o The Rangers agreed on contracts for all seven of their arbitration
eligible players quickly around the January 12 date when players and
clubs exchange salary figures. The seven players are Jake Diekman,
Jurickson Profar, Jeremy Jeffress, Tanner Scheppers, Robinson
Chirinos, A.J. Griffin, and Sam Dyson.
o Top Ranger minor league prospects Ariel Jurado and Jose Trevino
have been invited to the big league club’s spring training. Jurado is
being groomed as a starting pitcher. He’s ranked as the team’s sixth
best minor leaguer. Trevino is the top ranked minor league catcher in
the organization, and is ranked among the ten best catching prospects
in the minor leagues.
o Former Ranger and Allen native Shawn Tolleson signed with Tampa Bay.