Spring training started this weekend, finally.
Couple of tidbits.
Donnelly has reportedly been impressive and Turnbow has turned heads. The players seem more excited about Andruw Jones than the fans and local press are. He has lost 20+ pounds, which should put him at about 220, and Jaramillo says he still has decent bat speed and quick wrists which bode well for a Jaramilloesque vivisection of his swing. Gabbard and Jennings are not throwing off the mound yet, which likely puts them in AAA to start the season. Gabbard has been told he will be a bullpen guy this season, likely a long-man, and some extra time to get healthy in ST or extended and acclimated to a bullpen role in AAA will do both him and the org some good. Jennings lives in frisco so the scuttlebutt is that he will start there to begin the season. This would likely displace Moscoso to AAA, which he should be ready for, as I indicated in a previous post. Rupe has apparently been told his is competing for the long relief role, which is puzzling, as Nippert seems to be the favorite for this role, and Gabbard seems to be the fav for this role in AAA. He really swung between both long and middle relief and I had anticipated him being in that same role this season. Perhaps it indicates that he is destined for AAA as he has an option left if he doesn't beat out Nippert. Basically I see it coming down to Rupe and Eyre for the final bullpen spot so whoever pitches best...
There was actually some big news. Marlon Byrd had microfracture surgery and is only 70% at this time and has not sprinted since his OCT 1 surgery. He also had cartilage removed at that time. This is a serious surgery that requires a lot of time spent on activities that don't stress the knee. I seriously doubt that he will be ready for spring training and could be put on the DL to begin the season maybe until June. Big news IMO. The essenteally solidifies a spot for Andrew Jones and may very well precipitate an early move of Hambone to Right field, that is, if Jones proves that he is still a starting-caliber player rather than a 4th OF type.
Byrd's injury likely removes him as a trade piece this season and may in fact remove him from Type B status next off-season.
So really, we have seen health remain an issue even before spring training opened. It is curious to note as well that there really has been ZERO press about the status of rehab for various players critical to the Rangers 09 season. Not sure why this is save for reasons of privacy for the player or to strengthen the rangers hand in trade/FA negotiations.
To begin with, we learned that Hurley and Benoit were both out for the season after there rehab failed to progress. Only weeks before, JD had been quoted touting both as critical for the 09 season, expecting Hurley to start and Benoit to recapture his 07 ubermensch status. Weeks later, he says there rehab was not progressing, and they were out for the year. Misinformation? I don't know, nor do I know why that would be beneficial to anyone. However, why not just say their rehab is ongoing and that they will be reevaluated at such and such date before ST? Puzzling.
In addition, we learn that Gabbard and Jennings will not be throwing from the mound as of the start of ST. WE learn that Byrd's surgery was much more serious than the public knew, with no indication from the rangers that he might not be ready for opening day, and, infact, is only 70% as of now. Not really sure what is up with this. Maybe it is as simple as a lack of due diligence on the part of the press. However, JD's optimistic portrayals of every last one of these injured players surely disarmed any public speculation and dissuaded anyone from making inquires. So it seems that this amounts to a team policy aimed at both preserving a player's privacy and strengthening the teams position with respect to player acquisition.
What else? well, the star telegram is posting really bad videos of hitters and pitchers in batting practice. Jim Reeves for said paper is posting inane columns.