Tag:Texas Rangers
Posted on: July 11, 2011 7:54 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 8:11 pm
 

Padres' Bell open to set-up duties down stretch

PHOENIX -- San Diego closer Heath Bell, a man now expecting to be traded, said Monday that he would be fine working as a set-up man for a contender down the stretch this season as long as everyone understands that he will return to being a closer in 2012.

With St. Louis already believed to be hot on his trail, this revelation could spark even more interest in Texas (where Neftali Feliz is closing) and in New York (where the Yankees need help in front of Mariano Rivera).

Bell, a free agent this winter, briefly talked contract extension with the Padres this spring -- but those talks long since have been tabled.

When San Diego won 10 of 13 at one point in late June and early July, it delayed what appeared to be the inevitable. General manager Jed Hoyer certainly wasn't going to unload Bell, reliever Chad Qualls and outfielder Ryan Ludwick and lose what's left of the Padres' fan base at that point.

But a 3-7 trip to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles to close the first half has left the Padres both 12 games under .500 (40-52) and 12 games behind first-place San Francisco in the NL West.

Worse has been the manner in which the Padres have been losing. They lost 1-0 to the Dodgers on Friday night despite loading the bases with nobody out in the ninth, then they lost 1-0 to the Dodgers on Saturday despite pitching a tag-team no-hitter for 8 2/3 innings.

In fact, the Padres were swept by the Dodgers over the weekend despite holding Los Angeles to 12 hits in the three games. It was a historic weekend: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no team has held another to 12 hits while getting swept in a three-game series since 1966. Then, the White Sox won three over Washington.

"The last two or three months of the year, I'm good, I'll set up," Bell, who has 27 saves in 37 appearances, said Monday. "Because I think I showed everyone that I can close.

"But I definitely want to close next year."




Posted on: May 23, 2011 6:36 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2011 11:25 pm
 

Rays' Shields keeping ball in the park

One key reason why Tampa Bay's James Shields currently leads the AL in both complete games (three) and shutouts (two), ranks second in innings pitched (76 2/3) and fourth in ERA (2.00)?

He's doing exactly what he set out to do this spring: Keep the gopher balls away.

Last year, his 34 home runs allowed were the most in the American League.

This year, his seven surrendered do not even rank in the top 10.

Shields told me this spring that he thought there were a couple of easily explainable reasons why he was so disappointing in 2010 at 13-15 with a career-high 5.18 ERA.

"Bad baseball luck," he said during an early-March conversation in Port Charlotte, Fla. "Take away two or three bad games, and my ERA's 3.60 and nobody's talking about it."

Shields, who dominated the Marlins with 13 strikeouts in Sunday's complete-game win, figured that if he could minimize home runs in 2011, his ERA would drop. And if those two things happened, he'd be well on his way to a rebound year.

Those seven homers allowed in 2011 translate to one surrendered per 42 batters faced.

In 2010, he yielded one homer per 26.4 batters faced.

Not even close.

"I wasn't as good as I wanted to be last year," Shields said. "But there were a lot of positives: 200 innings [203 1/3, to be exact], 180-odd strikeouts [187]."

He keeps going at his current pace in 2011, there will be far more positives this season.

For both Shields and the Rays.

Likes: Texas' Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz and Philadelphia's Chase Utley all coming back this week. ... Knuckleballers. Boston's Tim Wakefield and the Mets' R.A. Dickey just keep on truckin'. ... Lars Anderson's Sports Illustrated cover story this week on the tornado devastation in Alabama. Beautifully done and heartbreaking. ... Music from the old Detroit band The Rockets on iTunes. Loved them back in the day (late '70s, early '80s) and had much of their stuff on vinyl, but it was never released on CD. Hadn't heard the songs in many years, but they stand up very well to the test of time. A shame they never hit it big nationally, because they could rock. ... Minka Kelly on the new Charlie's Angels in the fall. Hello girls, this is Charlie. ...

Dislikes: Red Sox-Cubs 1918 throwback uniforms.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Really love your peaches
"Wanna shake your tree."

-- Steve Miller Band, The Joker


Posted on: April 23, 2011 9:12 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 12:00 am
 

Hamilton, Feliz injuries open AL West door

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- First Josh Hamilton, now closer Neftali Feliz.

Guess life isn't going to be a tire swing all summer for the Texas Rangers, after all.

Not that the Rangers themselves ever expected to run away with the AL West, but when they were 9-1 and owned a four-game AL West lead on April 11, you sure heard some chatter in other quarters about the possibility.

Now, Hamilton is out for up to two months with a broken bone in his arm, and Saturday the Rangers disabled their closer with soreness in his shoulder before Saturday's game with Kansas City. Maybe Texas doesn't miss a beat, but if ever there was a time for an AL West rival to make an early-season move, this is it.

Question is, is anybody in a position to do so?

The Angels actually left Texas in first place on Wednesday night after taking two of three from the Rangers. But Boston devours Los Angeles like kids gobble Easter candy and, in winning the first three of a four-game weekend series -- the latest a 5-0 cakewalk on Saturday -- helped dump the Angels back into second place. The Red Sox have won 12 of their past 13 against the Angels, including nine of 10 in 2010.

Oakland ranks 13th in the AL in runs scored. Only Minnesota (57) had scored fewer than the Athletics (66), and Bob Geren's team needs to hit .500 (they were 9-11 before Saturday's game with Seattle) before worrying about passing the Angels and Texas.

The Angels had stabilized some after losing three of their first four, though Vernon Wells was still hitting just .183 with one homer and four RBI into Saturday night's game and the club's bullpen had walked an AL-high 41 batters -- five more than next-most Kansas City.

"Wells and Torii Hunter [.212, four homers, 12 RBI] have to start hitting," one veteran scout says. "Mark Trumbo and Hank Conger and their young kids aren't going to carry them all season."

This isn't exactly how Wells would prefer to introduce himself to Southern California fans, though the nine-year veteran isn't panicking.

"It's not my first time," Wells says of a slow start. "I've hit .180 for the month of April before."

Not quite, but close: .191 in April, 2005.

Meantime, the Angels still are not sure when slugger Kendrys Morales, out since surgery to repair a fractured leg last May, will return.

The All-Star combination of Jered Weaver and Dan Haren (9-1 combined with a 1.34 ERA) has kept the Angels moving forward even as the bullpen was so rough early that Mike Scioscia's club already has had to make some serious adjustments. The Angels have removed Fernando Rodney from the closer's spot in favor of Jordan Walden, and they dispatched Kevin Jepsen and Michael Kohn to Triple-A Salt Lake on April 10.

"Early, it was really hurting us, especially with Rodney, Kohn and Jepsen," Scioscia says. "Obviously, they've got to work on command issues to get where they need to be. It's not a good trend.

Angels pitchers have walked 17 batters in the first two of the four games against Boston, 10 by the bullpen.

"We have some power arms down there [in the bullpen], but power arms that should be able to command counts better than we've seen," Scioscia says. "It will work its way out as the season goes on."

The Rangers, no doubt, figure the same thing about their current spate of injuries. And the run-challenged Athletics, about crossing the plate. And Seattle ... well, let's not get carried away here.

Posted on: March 20, 2011 2:22 am
Edited on: March 20, 2011 2:36 am
 

Beltre: Best chance to win was Texas, not Angels

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Adrian Beltre played for the Dodgers from 1998 through 2004, still lives in Los Angeles in the offseason and had a chance to go home to play for the Angels as a free agent this winter.

He didn't.

Instead, he signed with Texas and will spend another summer away from home.

Why?

According to Beltre, because Texas has more talent than the Angels.

"I thought this is the team that gave me the best chance to put a ring on my finger," Beltre told CBSSports.com the other day, wearing his Rangers uniform, sitting inside the Texas clubhouse.

Certainly, dollars figured into it because they always do.

He signed with the Rangers for $80 million over five years, with an option for 2016 at the end of that.

The Angels made what they termed a "significant" offer during the negotiating period, reportedly $70 million over five years. Beltre also earlier declined a reported five-year, $64 million offer from the Athletics.

Beltre, though, in discussing choosing the Rangers over the Angels didn't say anything about bigger dollars. Instead, the 13-year veteran talked about the big goal in the game that so far has been elusive to him.

"I've been playing awhile, and I've only been to the playoffs once," Beltre said. "It was really fun.

"This is a really good team, and a young team. We know the core of the team will be here awhile. It's not going to be a good team for one or two years and then get older or whatever."

That run started last year. When Texas won the division title in 2010, it stopped a streak in which the Angels had won five of the previous six AL West titles.

Beltre said he spoke with Rangers general manager Jon Daniels before signing and "I believe Texas is going to do what it takes to win on the field for the rest of my contract."

And the Angels?

"I don't want to get into details," Beltre said. "I thought, overall, my best chance was here in Texas."

Even if he meant leaving home to find his best chance.

Sunblock Day? Yessir. Checked in in the 80s again today.

Likes: Butler 71, Pitt 70. What a phenomenal game. And yes, both fouls should have been called at game's end. Butler's Shelvin Mack said it best: As players, they're taught to play the right way for 40 minutes. As such, they deserve nothing less than officials remaining consistent throughout as well. ... The sour cream enchiladas at Los Olivos. Terrific Mexican food there in Scottsdale. ... Great running into umpire Jim Joyce and his lovely wife, Kay, in Los Olivos as well, by the way. ... The Bud Light dogs commercial they're running during these NCAA tourney games. The one where the guy says the dogs can do anything, and next thing you know there's a wild party with good looking guys and gals and the dogs are tending bar, bringing appetizers around, etc. When I get home from spring training, I'm going to have a discussion with my dog, Slugger, about stepping up his game.

Dislikes: What?! Rain in the forecast for Phoenix on Monday? How dare Mother Nature do that.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now Texas has gotten a bad reputation because of what happened in Dallas and Waco
"And the corporations, well, they are corrupt and the politicians are swindlers and loco
"But when it comes to music my friend, I believe these words are as true as St. John the Revelators
"Our Mr. Vaughn was the best that there ever was and no band was cooler than the 13th Floor Elevators"

-- Ray Wiley Hubbard, Screw You, We're From Texas

Posted on: March 12, 2011 12:00 pm
 

Rhodes eyes Orosco's longevity record

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Lefty specialist Arthur Rhodes is apparently just getting revved up.

Fresh from making his first All-Star team last summer, Rhodes, at 41, now has another milestone in sight as he limbers up to help the Texas Rangers defend their American League pennant in 2010.

"I haven't decided how long," I'm going to pitch," Rhodes said here Tuesday. "I keep telling everyone I want to catch Jesse Orosco in appearances.

"That's my goal."

Cool.

Except Orosco is atop the all-time leaderboard with 1,252 career appearances.

Rhodes currently ranks 34th at 849.

"I haven't run into him lately," Rhodes said of Orosco, with whom he played in Baltimore from 1996-1999. "I told him four or five years back that I was going to catch his record.

"He started laughing and said, 'Keep going.'"

So far, Rhodes has. And he's gaining momentum.

The 69 appearances for Cincinnati last summer represented the third-highest total of his career, and the most for a season since 2001, when he pitched in 71 games for Seattle.

Last summer, he became the oldest All-Star "rookie" ever in the National League when he was named to the Midsummer Classic for the first time.

That came after he equaled a major-league record by working 33 consecutive scoreless appearances during the first half of last season.

So, what about it? Can the man who currently stands 403 appearances behind Orosco's record last a few more years and parlay that into an all-time record?

Um, highly doubtful.

Orosco pitched until he was 46. If Rhodes can do the same -- a big if -- he would need to average roughly 67 appearances every season to tie Orosco.

Then again, you know how lefty relief specialists can hang around longer than childhood memories. If he matches last year's workload, Rhodes will leap from 34th to 21st all-time in appearances.

"I think I shocked a lot of people last year," said Rhodes, who signed a one-year, $3.9 million deal with the Rangers this winter. The contract also includes a $4 million option for 2012 that becomes guaranteed if Rhodes makes 62 appearances and is not on the disabled list at the end of the 2011 season. The Rangers are his eighth organization.

"I feel good," Rhodes continued. "Everything feels good. My body feels good.

"I came over here to help them win, to help get them to where they were last year. The only thing you can do is have fun and play hard."

Sunblock Day: Scorching in the desert. Upper 80s. Bring lots of sunblock. And lots of water.

Likes: Texas lefty C.J. Wilson's work ethic. ... Hope closer Neftali Feliz never loses his smile. He's a classy, enigmatic kid. ... Rangers GM Jon Daniels getting a four-year contract extension. One of the game's sharpest executives. ... Retired Trevor Hoffman back with the Padres, but declining to sign one of those one-day contracts so he could retire as a Padre. He's no phony. ... The way fans have enthusiastically embraced the Giants after their World Series win. ... The Drive-By Truckers on Conan O'Brien the other night. ... Oregano's in the Phoenix area. Fabulous thin crust pizza, and the pizza cookie for dessert is a must, too.

Dislikes: Many prayers for Japan and all affected by the earthquakes and tsunami. It's just awful.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Do you know where I was at your age?
"Any idea where I was at your age?
"I was workin' downtown for the minimum wage"

-- Arcade Fire, Building Downtown (Antichrist Television Blues)

 

Posted on: March 12, 2011 12:00 pm
 

Rhodes eyes Orosco's longevity record

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Lefty specialist Arthur Rhodes is apparently just getting revved up.

Fresh from making his first All-Star team last summer, Rhodes, at 41, now has another milestone in sight as he limbers up to help the Texas Rangers defend their American League pennant in 2010.

"I haven't decided how long," I'm going to pitch," Rhodes said here Tuesday. "I keep telling everyone I want to catch Jesse Orosco in appearances.

"That's my goal."

Cool.

Except Orosco is atop the all-time leaderboard with 1,252 career appearances.

Rhodes currently ranks 34th at 849.

"I haven't run into him lately," Rhodes said of Orosco, with whom he played in Baltimore from 1996-1999. "I told him four or five years back that I was going to catch his record.

"He started laughing and said, 'Keep going.'"

So far, Rhodes has. And he's gaining momentum.

The 69 appearances for Cincinnati last summer represented the third-highest total of his career, and the most for a season since 2001, when he pitched in 71 games for Seattle.

Last summer, he became the oldest All-Star "rookie" ever in the National League when he was named to the Midsummer Classic for the first time.

That came after he equaled a major-league record by working 33 consecutive scoreless appearances during the first half of last season.

So, what about it? Can the man who currently stands 403 appearances behind Orosco's record last a few more years and parlay that into an all-time record?

Um, highly doubtful.

Orosco pitched until he was 46. If Rhodes can do the same -- a big if -- he would need to average roughly 67 appearances every season to tie Orosco.

Then again, you know how lefty relief specialists can hang around longer than childhood memories. If he matches last year's workload, Rhodes will leap from 34th to 21st all-time in appearances.

"I think I shocked a lot of people last year," said Rhodes, who signed a one-year, $3.9 million deal with the Rangers this winter. The contract also includes a $4 million option for 2012 that becomes guaranteed if Rhodes makes 62 appearances and is not on the disabled list at the end of the 2011 season. The Rangers are his eighth organization.

"I feel good," Rhodes continued. "Everything feels good. My body feels good.

"I came over here to help them win, to help get them to where they were last year. The only thing you can do is have fun and play hard."

Sunblock Day: Scorching in the desert. Upper 80s. Bring lots of sunblock. And lots of water.

Likes: Texas lefty C.J. Wilson's work ethic. ... Hope closer Neftali Feliz never loses his smile. He's a classy, enigmatic kid. ... Rangers GM Jon Daniels getting a four-year contract extension. One of the game's sharpest executives. ... Retired Trevor Hoffman back with the Padres, but declining to sign one of those one-day contracts so he could retire as a Padre. He's no phony. ... The way fans have enthusiastically embraced the Giants after their World Series win. ... The Drive-By Truckers on Conan O'Brien the other night. ... Oregano's in the Phoenix area. Fabulous thin crust pizza, and the pizza cookie for dessert is a must, too.

Dislikes: Many prayers for Japan and all affected by the earthquakes and tsunami. It's just awful.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Do you know where I was at your age?
"Any idea where I was at your age?
"I was workin' downtown for the minimum wage"

-- Arcade Fire, Building Downtown (Antichrist Television Blues)

 

Posted on: March 9, 2011 3:54 pm
 

Webb still a ways off for Rangers

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitching to sleepy-eyed minor-league hitters in front of a manager and pitching coach early on a March morning is vastly different than throwing in front of 45,000 in late October.

But late October is where both the Texas Rangers and Brandon Webb hope to be working later this year, so Wednesday's slow-out-of-the-gates session for the right-hander counted as the first step toward, well, who-knows-what.

The 2006 NL Cy Young winner hasn't pitched since opening day 2009, and he looked every bit of that while throwing for the first time this spring to live hitters.

The Rangers hope he can become healthy and strong enough to help them later in the summer. Based on his 62-pitch test-drive session Wednesday, it's not going to be sooner.

"I'm not dreaming," manager Ron Washington said. "I'm more focused on the ones who are healthy and around right now.

"When he becomes available, then I can dream."

It's still awfully fuzzy as to when that might be. Webb threw several sinkers -- his chief weapon -- as well as changeups and fastballs.

"His sink was there, it just wasn't heavy," said Washington, who noted that he threw some good breaking balls and changeups and some not-so-good breaking balls and changeups.

"I don't know if he can be the same guy" that he was before, Washington said. "But what he does have is pedigree. He knows how to get outs. A good pitcher knows how to get outs. That's important to me."

The Rangers signed Webb to a one-year deal that guarantees him $3 million and could earn him as much as $8 million with incentives in early January after ace Cliff Lee spurned them for the Philadelphia Phillies.

"Of course we need him," Washington said. "But as far as counting on him, he'll let us know."

The next step, the manager said, would be for Webb to pitch another round of live batting practice. But Webb remains so far behind that the Rangers will wait to schedule that until they see how his shoulder responds over the next couple of days to Wednesday's effort.

 

Posted on: March 6, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Prior commited to winning job in Yanks' pen

TAMPA -- The corner locker in a big-league clubhouse is the perfect location for a player who enjoys sitting back and observing.

In the Yankees' clubhouse, Mark Prior occupies one of the corner lockers. But he's done enough observing over the past several years, thank you very much.

Here to win a job in the club's bullpen, Prior knows there is every chance he may open the season in Triple-A. And that's OK by him, as long as his troubled right shoulder stays intact and allows him what probably is this one last chance to finish a career on his terms, and not those of his shoulder.

Adding a touch of nostalgia to the spring is that Prior is reunited with new Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild. The two worked together for five seasons in Chicago, nearly helping to push the Cubs into the World Series in 2003.

"So far, he's been good," Rothschild said. "Arm-wise, he's feeling good. ... We need to go in progression to build him up.

"The bullpen is where he's going to be, I think. It's what his arm can handle."

In two spring innings so far, Prior has allowed neither a hit nor a run. He's struck out three, and walked one.

"If he's right, he's going to win some games for the Yankees this year," one big-league scout who saw Prior pitch last summer said.

From his perch at the corner locker after another morning of work recently, Prior was pleased with the way things are going. His latest comeback started in earnest last summer pitching for an independent league team in Fullerton, Calif., where he showed enough that the Rangers signed him to a minor-league deal. He pitched one minor-league inning in a Triple-A game near season's end, and then one inning in a minor-league playoff game.

"I think it's there," he said. "Like everybody, there are things I need [work on]. I'm trying to find the release point on my breaking ball."

The good?

"I feel like the ball's coming out of my hand free," he said. "I'm not pushing it."

Since cranking it up in Fullerton last summer, Prior said he's throwing the ball "a lot better. I'm more efficient. I'm not on top of the ball."

Prior, still just 30, has not pitched in the majors since 2006. Rothschild believes his shoulder has never been the same since his '03 collision with infielder Marcus Giles. Then, in '05, he suffered a compression fracture in his elbow when he was drilled by a line drive comebacker by Colorado's Brad Hawpe.

"Not to get melodramatic, but after '05, I was just battling to get out there every fifth day in '06," said Prior, who made only nine starts that year. "Then, '07 was a nightmare [exploratory surgery by Dr. James Andrews revealed structural damage to the shoulder]."

He could have packed it in -- he's earned nearly $13 million during his career, according to baseballreference.com -- but, well, a pitcher pitches. Until, at least, he no longer can. And despite his checkered injury history, Prior still wasn't ready for a life of "what could have been?".

His time on the mound last summer confirmed that in his mind.

And where he once pitched in All-Star Games and NL Championship Series' (2003), now he gauges his progress differently.

"I saw that, steadily, things were getting better and better," he said. "When I faced St. Louis' farm system in the playoff game, St. Louis always has great hitters and I held my own. I was thinking, 'Hey, I can do this.'"

This spring, he's still thinking the same thing.

"I think that my starting days are definitely on the back burner," he said. "From what I know of my shoulder, and from what they know of my shoulder, this is my best situation to come back."

Sunblock Day? Surely, you jest. More great weather this spring. Keep the Banana Boat well-stocked.

Likes: Mark Prior as healthy as we've seen him in several years. I don't know if his shoulder is going to last, but it would be a nice chapter in his career if he can stay on the field and pitch out of the Yankees' bullpen. ... Our Ear on Baseball podcast featuring C. Trent Rosecrans with two members of The Baseball Project, Scott McCaughey (most famous for his work with REM) and Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate, Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3). The Baseball Project has just released their second disc and will be touring, including a handful of Cactus League ballpark shows the latter half of March. Good stuff musically and good listening. You can get it here. ... Clarence Clemons, sax man for the E Street Band, playing on a new Lady Gaga song. What a combination they must have been on recording day. ... As far as fast food pizza goes, I'll take Papa John's.

Dislikes: That I left Tampa right before a special theatrical screening of Smokey and the Bandit at which Burt Reynolds was to appear. Now what a hoot that would have been. No word whether the Trans-Am was going to show.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"James Dean in that Mercury '49
"Junior Johnson runnin' through the woods of Caroline
"Even Burt Reynolds in that black Trans-Am
"All gonna meet down at the Cadillac Ranch"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Cadillac Ranch

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com