SURPRISE, Ariz. – The two locks in the Texas Rangers bullpen don’t seem concerned about how the rest of the staff will fill out.
Closer Joe Nathan and free agent signee Jason Frasor are confident with the amount of arms in camp and the quality of the pitchers, the bullpen will be just fine once the season starts.
“We’ve got a new ‘pen but it’s nothing new,” Nathan said. “It seems like there are always question marks coming in, especially with bullpens. Last year was no different with me and a lot of the young guys that were coming. There are always questions.”
At least they are set with Nathan and Frasor.
Nathan saved 37 games last season in his first year with the Rangers. The Rangers also signed Frasor, a nine-year veteran, to a $1.5-million deal for this season. While Frasor’s role is yet to be defined he knows he has one as both manager Ron Washington and general manager Jon Daniels have said that.
After that, there are no guarantees.
“I’ve got into camps when there was one job up for grabs,” Frasor said. “Carrying seven in the bullpen I think this is great for the guys. The competition has got to be great for the young guys. They’re coming into this camp thinking I’ve got a shot at this. It’s great for competition and you never really know how things are going to shake out with a bullpen.”
One thing neither pitcher is worried about is the team’s ability to find other pitchers who can succeed. Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross and Michael Kirkman all had success with the club last year. The Rangers also traded for right-hander Josh Lindblom and have a host of veterans in camp including former All-Star Evan Meek and Rule 5 pick Coty Woods, who has been impressive early.
As good as those guys are, the Rangers bullpen could only get stronger as the season goes on if rehabbing relievers Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz can contribute.
“It definitely plays well to set up for the second half if everything goes according to plan with Soria and maybe Neftali thrown into the mix,” Nathan said. “It possibly could be really good for the second half when the pen tends to break down a little bit. We may be starting to get stronger.”