SURPRISE, Ariz. – On the eve of the first workout for Texas Rangers pitchers and catchers, the organization’s brass had its pre-spring meetings at the Surprise Recreation Complex.
Once the meetings ended, general manager Jon Daniels talked about some of the expectations for the spring. And even though the full squad workouts don’t begin until Saturday, prospect Jurickson Profar remained the No. 1 topic.
Daniels said Profar, who is still undecided on whether or not he will play in the World Baseball Classic, likely will not see any action in the outfield this spring. How much action Profar sees at all depends on his WBC commitment with the Netherlands.
Whatever his WBC commitment is, Daniels made it clear that Profar, 19, can still make the big-league roster. But if the role is strictly as a utility infielder, a job usually reserved for a veteran, then it appears unlikely.
“To make the club in this sort of role you’ve got to be able to play different positions in different days, be able to come off the bench, pinch run, know the cuts offs and relays, and the bunt defenses, and multiple positions,” Daniels said. “Those are things I have full expectation he can do but he hasn’t had to do. Unless there’s a meaningful role, we’re not interested in having a young prospect sit on the bench and play 30 games over the course of the season. That doesn’t make sense.”
The Rangers have been able to get by with veteran backup infielders the last few seasons but don’t have one in camp now, which could help Profar’s chances. Texas hasn’t ruled out adding a veteran infielder this spring.
“We’re still talking a couple of different things out there,” Daniels said. “The year (Andres) Blanco made an impact he wasn’t in our camp in 2010. We didn’t acquire him until midway through.”
In non-Profar related topics, Daniels had this to say:
On adding another starter
He doesn’t think the team will do so and will let the wide-open race for the No. 5 spot play out.
On comfort level with Mike Olt playing in the outfield
Daniels is confident it’s a job Olt could handle if needed. “It came up in our meeting today,” Daniels said. “A lot of time guys move positions because they’re not good at one. That’s not the case with him. He’s a plus defensive third baseman who’s behind probably the best third baseman in the game right now. Everyone feels he’s plenty capable of playing it (right field).”
On Derek Holland’s offseason
Holland said he’s cutting down on distractions to try and focus more on pitching, working with pitching coach Mike Maddux, strength and conditioning coach Jose Vazquez and talking with Nolan Ryan. Holland said he doesn’t think the extracurricular stuff affected his pitching, but he’s eliminated some of it. Daniels likes what Holland’s done. “He gives off the vibe he’s got something to prove,” Daniels said. “He’s eliminated some of the clutter, the distractions. He’s focused on the task at hand. We’ve seen what he’s capable of. No one has ever questioned his work ethic.”
On the set-up man situation
The Rangers have their set-up man in camp in Joakim Soria, but he is recovering from Tommy John surgery and won’t be ready until at least May. Daniels likes the group of players the club has in camp to fill that role, although there’s no clear-cut favorite as of now. “I like the possibilities,” Daniels said. “I like the collection of arms we have competing for jobs. How exactly it settles in and who gets what role, there’s quite a bit of competition ahead of us. I feel good about putting together a good bullpen based on the options we have.”