Rangers righty Edinson Volquez pitched in a game setting for the first time in nearly 20 months Wednesday, and while he was tagged for four runs in an inning of work against the Cubs, there were nonetheless signs of encouragement, writes Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Volquez’s first pitch clocked in at 95 mph, and he immediately followed it with a 96 mph heater before eventually running that fastball up to 97 mph. “That’s about as happy as I’ve ever been after a four spot,” new manager Chris Woodward said in reference to Volquez’s day.
The Rangers originally inked Volquez to a two-year minor league contract following the 2017 season, knowing full well that he’d miss all of the 2018 campaign due to Tommy John surgery. Texas selected his contract in advance of the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft this season and will be counting on him, along with holdover Mike Minor and new additions Drew Smyly, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller, to comprise the team’s rotation early in the season.
Here’s a look at some spring scenarios around the AL West…
- With the out-of-options Tony Kemp and Tyler White in line to make the Astros’ Opening Day roster, Houston seems likely to carry 13 position players and 12 pitchers, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. That’s a departure from the norm for the organization in recent years but likely a necessity, as the ’Stros would need to risk exposing one of Kemp or White to waivers in order to send either player to the minor leagues. Neither player’s performance in 2018 merits a trip back to Triple-A anyhow. The 27-year-old Kemp hit .263/.351/.392 in just shy of 300 plate appearances with the Astros last season, seeing action at all three outfield spots and at second base. White, meanwhile, turned in a massive .276/.354/.533 line with 12 homers, 12 doubles and three triples in 237 trips to the plate. Currently, White figures to get the lion’s share of plate appearances in the Astros’ designated hitter role, though he can also fill in at either corner-infield position.
- Mariners camp in 2019 is filled with veterans who know they could be shipped out in trades at any moment, writes Larry Stone of the Seattle Times, who spoke to general manager Jerry Dipoto about how he manages a roster that is fully cognizant of that uncertainty. “Players generally do well when you tell them the truth,” said Dipoto in emphasizing that he’s been as up front as possible with veterans like Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce (among others). Stone not only spoke with Dipoto, but Encarnacion, Bruce and Kyle Seager about the looming possibility of a trade to another club (be it now or during the regular season) and the manner in which they balance dealing with that knowledge and prepping for the 2019 season.