Jamey Wright was probably the slight favorite to win the last spot in the Rangers' rotation coming into today.
That may not be the case anymore. He may have just been the first to blink.
Texas lost to the Chicago Cubs 11-7 on Wednesday afternoon, courtesy of a walkoff grand slam by Daryle Ward.
TEXAS AB R H BI
M Kata cf 5 2 2 0
F Catalanotto lf 3 0 1 0
R Bauer p 1 0 0 0
I Kinsler 2b 5 0 3 2
M Teixeira 1b 4 0 2 0
S Sosa rf 3 0 1 0
N Cruz ph-rf 2 0 1 0
H Blalock 3b 2 2 1 0
D Meyer 3b 1 0 0 0
G Laird c 3 2 2 4
G Quiroz ph-c 1 0 0 0
R Vazquez ss 3 1 1 1
J Wright p 1 0 0 0
C Gentry ph 1 0 0 0
F Guzman lf 2 0 0 0
TOTALS 37 7 14 7
IP H R ER BB SO HR
J Wright 3 1-3 8 4 4 2 2 0
R Williams 1 2-3 1 0 0 0 0 0
R Bauer 1 2-3 6 3 3 1 2 1
J Benoit 1 1-3 0 0 0 0 2 0
J Ingram (L,0-1) 1-3 2 4 4 1 0 1
Wright struggled mightily, allowing four runs on eight hits and two walks. He only made it through 3 1/3 innings, and needed 76 pitches just to get that far. Looks like yet another plot twist has been thrown into the continuing fifth starter saga. Evan Grant writes that Jamey "could have all but clinched his spot in the rotation today," but has instead left the door open for Kameron Loe to jump ahead in the race.
Even though I'm inherently against Wright making this team, every pitcher has a bad day now and then, and the Rangers probably won't count this outing too harshly against him. However, any edge that he may have had over Loe is probably gone now. And while I can understand the logic behind wanting Wright to win the job due to his "experience" and the fact that Loe has options left, I still don't think he's the right choice. This team is obviously taking a shot at the playoffs this year, and running out a mediocre veteran retread like Wright over Loe isn't my idea of a winning solution.
Rick Bauer continued to make a strong case...for being traded, that is. He gave up three runs on six hits and a walk in his 1 2/3 innings of work. One especially disturbing note is that Bauer allowed yet another home run, making it four he's given up on the spring. He only gave up four home runs all last year. Spring training statistics may not be very important, but something is clearly not right with him. Perhaps he's having mechanical issues, or just going through a rough stretch, but since he wasn't guaranteed a bullpen spot coming into camp he can ill afford either one. A good portion of Bauer's usefulness comes from his ability to keep the ball in the park, so when that disappears, that's when the Rangers move on.
On the offensive side of things, Matt Kata had another solid day, going 2 for 5 with two runs scored. I'm still liking his chances of making this team. Several other Rangers had big games as well, including Gerald Laird, who mashed a pair of two run homers. Nelson Cruz continues to end any speculation over who the Opening Day right fielder will be, as he went 1 for 2 with a stolen base.
Sammy Sosa had an infield hit and two groundouts in his first start of the spring against his old club. I'm sure the national media wanted something more dramatic, but they'll get over it. Former Ranger Alfonso Soriano went 1 for 4 with a stolen base, and Mark DeRosa went 2 for 3.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram Rangers blog has a nice pitch-by-pitch breakdown of Eric Gagne's outing yesterday. His fastball sat at 90-92 MPH, with his changeup in the 82-84 MPH range. He may still add a few MPH to his fastball as he progresses through the spring.
Dave Sessions writes that there's really only one bullpen spot remaining, with the runner-up in the fifth starter sweepstakes likely ending up as the long relief guy. Bruce Chen probably isn't going to win either role, so that means either Wright or Loe landing in the bullpen. Can't say I'm real fond of that idea. If Wes Littleton and Frankie Francisco come on strong in the next week and a half, I have a hard time seeing Daniels sending one of them back to Oklahoma City - especially if it's Jamey Wright blocking them.
And finally, let's all shed a tear for Jason Botts, who seems to accept that he's headed back to the Redhawks...again.
"I'll go down and work hard and be ready when and if they need me," Botts said. "I want to play here for the Rangers. I know I have to stay patient. If I have to wait for my opportunity to play, I will. I just want to show them as much as I can right now."
Kevin Millwood will pitch in a minor league game in Surprise on Thursday, while Kameron Loe will take the hill against the Angels in Mesa at 3:05 PM CST. He holds the keys to his own destiny.
12 days until Opening Day.