The Rangers unleashed a flurry of roster moves Tuesday afternoon so much so that Bobby Jones was working two phones after the Redhawks loss to Memphis.
Here’s what happened:
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been optioned to OKC. That means he is no longer on a rehab assignment and has been added to OKC’s roster.
- Max Ramirez has been called up by Texas. He rushed to make a flight to Dallas after the game.
- Taylor Teagarden has been optioned to the Redhawks. No surprise here as he was hitting .037 in 27 plate appearances with the big league club.
- Craig Gentry was recalled by the Rangers. The 26-year-old centerfielder coached first base for OKC Tuesday morning and STARTED in center for the Rangers Tuesday night.
Salty should remain with OKC for at least another week to 10 days, or however long it takes for his sore back to be completely healed. The Rangers are also working him through a new pre-game stretching routine aimed at helping him remain healthy long term.
Matt Kemp is 25.
Living in Los Angeles.
And dating Rihanna.
Life doesn’t get much better for the Midwest City native. He recently finished a stretch where he hit seven home runs in 10 games. At this pace, he could threaten 30 home runs which would be yet another milestone in his career.
On the base paths, he has just two stolen bases in 76 plate appearances but even that slow pace has him near 30 by the end of the year, and it’s bound to pick up. He stole 34 last year.
Kemp credits the strength of LA’s lineup as one reason he’s hitting so well. Andre Ethier is off to a big start. Rafeal Furcal is back.
“You don’t want to walk me to get to ‘Dre,” Kemp told the LA Times. “‘Dre is just as capable as me, Manny or anybody else of hitting the ball out of the ballpark. And you don’t want to walk ‘Dre because it’s the same thing.”
Davis to see time at third: With Chris Davis’ return to OKC and Justin Smoak’s promotion to the big leagues, the question remains what becomes of Davis? For starters, he’ll see some time at third base and will likely DH from time to time.
These are also two spots that he could work at in the big leagues when/if he returns this year and beyond. Davis’ defense is good to great at times and no doubt will keep the Rangers interested in his continued development.
As for Smoak, he drew a pair of walks in his first game but has yet to record a hit in three games. He scored a run after drawing a walk but also struck out. The Rangers have praised Smoak’s plate discipline, but at some point he has to put the ball in play.
Budde gets the call: Midwest City native Ryan Budde was called by the Angels late last week. Budde will be the team’s primary backup to Mike Napoli at cather while Jeff Mathis recovers from a broken wrist, meaning it could be an extended stay for Budde who has been with the big league club for stints each of the last three seasons. He has yet to play in a game but should this week.
That’s not where his family’s baseball connections end. Budde’s father, Harlan, is the Director of Facility Operations at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark.
A little late roster maneuvering by the Rangers Thursday night as they recalled first baseman Justin Smoak and optioned Chris Davis back to the RedHawks.
For Smoak it’s the moment he has been waiting for and despite a slow spring training, has showed he is ready for. Smoak had a 12-game on base streak with the RedHawks that was snapped Thursday night. Not that Smoak should care at this point. He’s in the majors.
With OKC he hit .326 with an other worldly .500 on base percentage. In 47 at bats he drew 16 walks. Odds are, unless he gets hurt, Justin Smoak will never been seen in Oklahoma City again.
And the other side of the move is Davis who has struggled to pan out as a major league hitter after destroying minor league pitching in 2008. Davis was optioned to OKC in July of last year after he struggled at the plate with loads of strikeouts.
Davis is just 24 and has shown he can hit in the big leagues before, as a rookie in 2008 and in the second half of last season when he was recalled. But clearly this is not a place the Rangers, and especially Davis wants to be in.
As for the long term, expect Davis to see time at third base. He’s still a good defensive player and has played there before. Beyond that, Michael Young turns 34 this year. But he has many miles to go before he can start thinking about the big leagues again. His stay in OKC is likely to be a lengthy one, as in months not weeks.
Interesting article from Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci talks about how Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan works his magic.
Duncan has been part of several successful (and failed) reclamation projects during his 31 years in baseball. Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse are two success stories, Carpenter more so than Lohse. But there’s no doubt having someone like Duncan around to mentor you, even when you’ve been around the block many times, can’t hurt.
And it’s clearly working for Penny who is 2-0 and on pace to have some of the best numbers of his career.
Broken Arrow native Brad Penny was working the striped socks against Arizona Monday night. Penny is 2-0 and resurgent in St. Louis.
His current K-walk numbers (13-3) are some of the best of his career. After wandering through the wilderness with LA, Boston and finally San Francisco the last two years, it looks like Penny has found something resembling a comfort zone in St. Louis and could be in line for a comeback season (of sorts) with the Cardinals.
Penny came through OKC in 2008 on a rehab assignment and seemed like he was beginning to wear down physically. But beyond some great pitching, Penny looked fairly fit and trim against the D-Backs.
And let’s face it, the socks are awesome.
Salty to rehab with RedHawks: Injured Rangers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia will begin a rehab assignment with the RedHawks probably today in Nashville. He figures to stick around through at least that series and possibly return with the team for a home stand beginning with Memphis on Saturday.
The Rangers won’t rush Salty back, but with Taylor Teagarden getting almost nothing done at the plate and Max Ramirez apparently not in a position to help the big league club right now, his return will be a welcome addition.
Ortiz demoted: Former Oklahoma pitcher Russ Ortiz was designated for assignment by the Dodgers Monday. Ortiz had a 10.29 ERA in six appearances for the Dodgers. If he clears waivers he could end up with their Triple-A affiliate or, he could retire. Ortiz turns 36 in June.
Mickey Mantle, OF, New York Yankees
Career numbers: 536 HR, 1509 RBIs, .298 average
Inducted to HOF: 1974 (322 of 365 ballots)
The Mick, The Commerce Comet and if you’re Billy Crystal of Bob Costas, God…otherwise known as Mickey Mantle was born in Spavinaw on October 21, 1931. Growing up in Commerce played football and basketball along with baseball. He was reportedly offered a football scholarship to the University of Oklahoma.
He was named in honor of Philadelphia Athletics catcher Mickey Cochrane. He made his big league debut in 1951 for the Yankees and the rest is more or less history.
The Mick died of cancer in 1995 but not before he made this awesome
appearance on Late Night With David Letterman circa 1987.
Two of the top young arms in baseball have Oklahoma roots. Brett Anderson from Stillwater High School is off to a good start with the A’s. And Tommy Hanson just showed why he is someone the Braves will want to hold on to for a long time.
Hanson pitched his team to a 6-1 win over San Diego on Wednesday. He threw seven innings allowing four hits with seven strikeouts.
Hanson is 1-1 with 14 strikeouts in 12 innings this year. The only down side to his start are the seven walks he’s issued, but with strikeout totals like that, who could complain.
Hanson’s roots in Oklahoma aren’t very deep. While he was born in Tulsa, it’s unknown how much time he spent there before moving on.
Regardless, we’ll claim him here along with Anderson who pitched six shutout innings in his last start. It will be interesting to see how these two progress as we get into the dog days of summer and innings are racked up.
Holland, Moreland take leave: Derek Holland and Mitch Moreland have been missing from the RedHawks clubhouse the last two days. It turns out, they have a very good reason as both their grandfathers past away recently. Both are expected to rejoin the team Friday in Memphis with Holland making his next scheduled start.
Borbon struggling: Outfielder Julio Borbon who spent most of last season with Oklahoma City isn’t off the greatest of starts. Borbon is hitting .103 in 29 at bats this year. He sat in favor of David Murphy Thursday night. It doesn’t look like Borbon is in any danger of being demoted but it’s clear he has found the adjustment to full time duty in the big leagues very challenging. Borbon also has just one stolen base. The good news: He’s struck out just five times.
Derek Holland picked up his first win as a RedHawk Tuesday night, throwing 7 1/3 innings with four hits and no earned runs. He struck out three. Through two starts, Holland’s ERA remains a very slight 0.66.
That’s good news for Holland and the Rangers who are hoping he can get back to the majors this season. And there are others keeping an eye on the 24-year-old lefty. There were a gaggle of scouts who were in town to look at Holland and other players Tuesday night. Scouts at the Brick are nothing new, but you do tend to see more of them when someone like Holland is pitching.
Holland likely won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, unless it’s by trade. But having a first hand look at a guy never hurts for future reference. And it also gives them a chance to look at players who might fall under the organizational depth category for future seasons.
Arias hitting in the big leagues: Joaquin “Big League” Arias has made the most of his stint with the Rangers, and Ian Kinsler’s lingering injury issues. Arias is hitting .476 in 21 at bats. He’s driven in one run. He’s also had several multi hit games. The interesting thing for Arias is what happens to him when Kinsler comes back. He’s made the case to stay, and is out of options.
Arm eaters: The Rangers are off to a decent start to the year, but their pitchers are burning through a lot of pitches this early in the season which could at some point have an impact on the RedHawks. Evan Grant notes this fact in a blog entry on Wednesday. Oklahoma City has Derek Holland, Omar Beltre, Pedro Strop and Brandon McCarthy who could impact the big league club this year.
Nelson Cruz hit his 5th homer in 7 games and 10th overall Monday night. Cruz is arguably the hottest hitter in baseball with a .458 average and 11 RBIs in just over one week of play.
For stat fans, that projects to 254 RBIs and 115 HRs over the rest of the season at the current pace. He won’t keep that up, of course, but it could be the kind of season that makes Cruz one of the top 3 or 4 hitters in baseball, and one that smashes his 37 home run season as a RedHawk in 2008. The season that re-launched his career.
Strop excited for Feliz: Former RedHawk Neftali Feliz picked up his first major league save just a day after he was named the Rangers closer. Feliz struck out one in his outing.
Current RedHawks closer Pedro Strop said Monday night he was happy for Feliz whom he’s gotten to know well over the past several years. Strop said he admired Feliz’ fastball most, which has topped out at over 100 mph.
On the radar: Speaking of pitchers, Martin Perez should make an appearance in Oklahoma City this year. He’s one of Texas’ top pitching prospects and one of the better pitching prospects in baseball at just 19. He’s currently in Double-A. Here’s some video of Perez working the leg kick.
With the Rangers bullpen imploding like Texas Stadium, Ron Washington made the only logical choice Sunday. Replace struggling closer Frank Francisco with wunderkind in the making Neftali Feliz.
Feliz has loads of talent. Fans who some him pitch in OKC last year can attest to that. Feliz at times touched 104 on the Bricktown Ballpark scoreboard gun. Velocity that extreme might not be the norm, but Feliz is capable of bringing it over 100 mph. That much is certain.
What’s not certain is his mental ability to handle the task at hand. Feliz has never pitched back-to-back days in the majors and he’s not even 22 yet. That’s a lot to take in for a player of any age let alone 21.
Another point worth noting: Is Feliz now firmly entrenched in the role of a reliever, even though Texas gave him a shot at the rotation early in spring training?
Ramirez struggling: One of the potential rebound stories of the year for the RedHawks was/is catcher Max Ramirez. After a miserable 2009 in which he struggled with wrist problems and strikeouts, he is healthy (apparently) but isn’t on any kind of hot streak. He is 1 for 10 with four strikeouts in 10 at bats prior to Sunday’s loss.
Holliday homer for not: Cardinals outfielder and Stillwater native Matt Holliday tied what was a great Sunday night game between St. Louis and Milwaukee on ESPN with a solo shot to center in the ninth that followed up Albert Pujols’ two run bomb. The Cards went with Kyle McClellan in the ninth instead of Okie Ryan Franklin. McClellan gave up a solo walk off bomb to Casey McGehee.
What to watch: Let’s see if former Jenks standout Josh Johnson can regain his 2009 form after a so-so first outing. Johnson pitches Thursday against the Reds.