Rangers righty Tyson Ross threw his first live batting practice session today, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (Twitter links). The twenty pitch outing proceeded without issue, which leaves Ross on track for a somewhat more rapid timeline to return to MLB action than had been anticipated. Per Wilson, the bounceback candidate — who’s returning from thoracic outlet surgery — could be available as soon as early May. Texas will pay Ross $6MM this year, with up to $3MM available in incentives, in hopes that he can return to the form that made him one of the game’s more effective starters over the 2013-15 seasons.
- With some questions in the rotation, especially early on, the Rangers may elect to carry a deep relief unit while relying on just three bench players, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. The key to that arrangement is the versatility of Jurickson Profar and Ryan Rua, who could share time in left with Delino DeShields while also filling in wherever else they’re needed. Profar is primarily an infielder by trade, and that’s where Rua spent most of his minor-league career — though he has played mostly in the outfield in the majors.
- It seems there’s reason for optimism for Athletics righty Sonny Gray, who was “very encouraged” after picking up the ball yesterday, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Twitter. Gray only made twenty throws from a distance of sixty feet and another fifteen from seventy-five feet, but that’s an important first step. He’ll repeat the exercise today as he seeks to speed up his return from a lat strain.
- Mariners utilityman Shawn O’Malley needed an appendectomy yesterday, which will sideline him for around two weeks, as Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. He and Taylor Motter are battling for a reserve role on the Opening Day roster, but the health issue could certainly move the needle. Thus far, Motter has the better spring stat line, with a .324/.435/.459 slash against O’Malley’s .278/.333/.278 mark. Both have options remaining and have reached the majors previously, though neither has a significant track record at the game’s highest level.
- The Mariners also got some updates on a pair of righty relievers, Dutton adds on Twitter. Shae Simmons was able to play catch as he works through forearm issues, while Steve Cishek is scheduled for his first pen session tomorrow as he continues to progress from offseason hip surgery. It seems clear at this point that neither will be ready for Opening Day, though the deep Seattle unit should be able to bear the loss, and both could represent intriguing mid-season additions to the relief corps.