Sometimes the less prominent moments stick out in your head. One of my favorite moments from the greatness of "Eastbound & Down" was in the next to last episode, when Will Ferrell's Ashley Schaeffer character is seen in the background standing all alone in the midst of a semi-riot at his own car dealership, swinging a bat around in either a curious act of unnecessary self-defense or an unexpected opportunity to find someone to tune up.
Last night, the headline performances came from Vicente Padilla, Chris Davis, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Eddie Guardado, and Josh Hamilton, but the moment that I'm still thinking about this morning was Elvis Andrus's second-inning at-bat.
After Saltalamacchia homered to open the inning and give Texas a 2-0 lead, Travis Metcalf drew a walk and Andrus stepped in against Jon Garland for his first at-bat. Ron Washington started Metcalf with the pitch, not because he thought he had a chance to steal a base - Metcalf has no major league stolen bases in 80 games and none whatsoever since his early-2007 stint with Frisco - but because he has a ninth-place hitter who has the ability to put the ball in play on the right side, which can be a real weapon for this offense when you can create RBI opportunities for Ian Kinsler, who's capable of doing more damage than most leadoff hitters.
Andrus rifled the pitch through the vacated hole at second base, sending Metcalf to third and helping turn what for past Rangers offenses might have been a one-run inning after the solo homer into a three-run frame. Kinsler hit a sac fly to center, scoring Metcalf. Andrus stole second with David Murphy at the plate. After Murphy fanned, Hamilton doubled Andrus home.
Saltalamacchia's bomb and Hamilton's double (basically a line drive to the warning track hit so hard that Chris Young couldn't get back quickly enough to grab it) will make the MLB Network highlights, but Andrus's execution is what stood out for me.
He can do that.
Following up on my Sunday report, some clarification on the opt-out dates for various non-roster candidates, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Jason Jennings apparently has an April 1 opt-out, not April 25 as had previously been reported. Kris Benson's opt-out date is May 5. Guardado and Jimmy Gobble have April 3 opt-outs, and Omar Vizquel has an April 2 opt-out. Brendan Donnelly's comes up tomorrow, and Derrick Turnbow's is Tuesday.
Texas optioned Max Ramirez to Oklahoma City. He needs at-bats. Coming off his Venezuelan Winter League Rookie of the Year effort (.298/.391/.618, leading the league in home runs), he's gotten only 15 at-bats this spring, 10 in the World Baseball Classic and five with the Rangers.
Hamilton, as you've doubtlessly read in half a dozen places already, was "disappointed" the Rangers' initial long-term contract proposal. The story is that negotiations are underway. The story is not that Hamilton and his agent turned down the first offer. Too much is being made of his comment. This is a process. It always is.
Tom Hicks, who owns 95 percent of the Rangers and the Stars, is considering selling up 44 percent of each franchise to limited partners, which would not affect his controlling interest in either club. He reportedly anticipates ultimately owning between 51 and 60 percent of each club.
According to multiple reports, Hicks does not expect former President George W. Bush to become a minority owner, but he would like for Nolan Ryan to do so.
President Bush has been asked to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day. He hasn't yet confirmed whether he'll do so.
The third YouTube installment of me and Evan Grant tossing around spring training issues last week, with Ted Price of Rangers Podcast in Arlington filming in HD, is now up, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xC-dCdeGRk.
Karin Morris, Executive Director of the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, asked me to pass along details about the Welcome Home Luncheon, which will take place on Wednesday, April 8 (the day of the first night game of the season), starting at 11:30 a.m. at the Arlington Convention Center. Individual tickets are $50, and a table for eight costs $500 - and will include a Rangers celebrity at your table. Ryan, Jon Daniels, Ron Washington, and every one of the Rangers players are expected to attend the luncheon, net proceeds of which will benefit the Foundation.
For tickets, call 817-436-5933 or go to
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(c) Jamey Newberg
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