The Rangers’ full squad reports to camp Friday, although the only players missing on Thursday were Nelson Cruz, Lance Berkman, Leury Garcia and Jurickson Profar. It’s entirely possible the Rangers could have what amounts to their first full workout Friday, a day of the schedule. It’s supposed to be clear and in the 70s hear by early afternoon. You don’t hear me complaining. Here are a few observations, nuggets and meanderings:
1. After eight at-bats in 2011 and 46 last year, it appears OF Leonys Martin will get the bulk of the center field at-bats for the Rangers this year. Or at least he will get the opportunity. After Josh Hamilton flew the coop for Los Angeles, the Rangers resisted going hard after Michael Bourn because they felt invested (to the tune of $3.2 million this year) and felt they had to find out about his abilities. In his brief time in the majors in the past, he’s shown good offensive instincts and above-average speed, but defense has been a challenge. He has the best arm on the team, but it is erratic. And his routes to fly balls were often suspect.
Martin spent six weeks in the Dominican Republic this winter playing for Licey to hone the skills the Rangers expect him to display in order to hold the job.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity and I’m mentally ready for the challenge,” Martin said with strength coach Jose Vazquez acting as an interpreter. “I’m hoping thins work out. I tried to work on things that should be my strengths [in the Domninican], my bunting, my baserunning and my defense. I think that if I just play my style of baseball – I call it ‘small ball’ – I’ll be fine. I just need the opportunity to play.”
Oh, he will get that alright. The rest is up to him.
2. The story of the day in camp will be the arrival of Nelson Cruz, who has only issued a brief statement through his Pittsburgh-based sports law attorneys since being implicated in the latest Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) scandal to hit baseball. Without mentioning any specifics about Coral Gables, Fla.-based Biogenesis or its owner, Anthony Bosch, the statement said allegations against Cruz are false.
It will be interesting to see how Cruz addresses this in person. If he opens himself up to answering questions, then there will be a lot of specifics asked about. If he issues a statement only, he’s likely to be hounded on a regular basis this spring, even though there is probably little that he can add since MLB is conducting an active investigation into the matter at the moment.
Sunrise in Surprise: Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin is “mentally ready” for the challenge
Dallas Morning News | Feb 15