This time of year there's one email I get twice as much as any other: "Got any tips for a first-time trip to Surprise?" My answer every time is generally the same. "Get yourself to the back fields at 10 a.m. every day."
If you're at Rangers camp now, and you're taking that advice, you're going to have some company today.
Josh Hamilton is reportedly pushing for a spot in the Rangers lineup in the 10 a.m. "B" game (weather permitting) against the Royals, as the majority of the starting lineup prepares to travel half an hour south to Goodyear to take on Cleveland in the club's regularly scheduled game.
And slated to get the Texas start in that "B" game: Tanner Scheppers.
Not that there won't be interest in seeing how righthanders Brandon McCarthy, Guillermo Moscoso, and Luis Mendoza fare against the Indians, but after Scheppers, who has yet to throw a pitch that counts since signing as the Rangers' supplemental first-round pick last summer, sat 96-98 in a perfect seven-pitch inning against Kansas City on Thursday, not even showing his plus curve, his follow-up effort should be a stopdown for lots of folks this morning - even if Hamilton (who took batting practice against Omar Beltre and Warner Madrigal on Saturday and went yard to the opposite field off each) weren't possibly slated to lead off each of six innings as the Texas DH.
Lefthanders Michael Kirkman and Zach Phillips are scheduled to follow Scheppers in the "B" game.
The quiet surprise of camp so far? Maybe Matt Harrison, who reportedly sat 93-95 with a plus cutter yesterday, firing two perfect innings and getting all six of his outs on the ground.
If Harrison - don't forget, younger than Moscoso, Madrigal, and Doug Mathis - takes the next step this year, and if Jarrod Saltalamacchia builds off what's been a solid early camp, and both move toward establishing themselves as core players, think about what the discussion about the Mark Teixeira trade will sound like.
Rangers pitchers through three games: 1.73 ERA, 15 strikeouts and two walks (over 26 innings), 43 groundouts and 15 flyouts, no home runs.
In those 26 innings, Texas pitchers have permitted five earned runs.
Which is one fewer than Kevin Millwood gave up in just two-thirds of an inning yesterday. Ten Detroit hitters: one home run (leadoff hitter Clete Thomas), one double, five singles, one walk, two flyouts (and a balk tossed in as well). Doesn't mean a lot, but that's a pretty ugly Orioles debut.
Julio Borbon was held out of action on Saturday with a sore right forearm muscle, suffered while diving for a ball on Friday. Not expected to be serious.
Isolated moments in spring training may not mean a whole lot, but it's fair to assume that Matt Brown's second throwing error in three half-games at third base (each, as I recall, leading to an unearned run) isn't going to be written off by Ron Washington. Leury Garcia's error yesterday was as costly, but not as critical in the bigger picture.
Scott Lucas delivers a lengthy essay on Michael Young's chances to reach 3,000 hits.
Tampa Bay is reportedly on the verge of signing Hank Blalock to a non-roster contract, making him a candidate to back up Carlos Pena at first base, Evan Longoria at third base, and Pat Burrell at DH. Not a lot of opportunity there defensively, but Burrell is someone Blalock could conceivably start to take more than just platoon at-bats away from.
Righthander Jason Grilli, in camp with Cleveland on a non-roster deal, tore his right quadriceps while running sprints and could miss the season.
The forecast for Cactus League rain is stronger today than it is for North Texas, but if the weather holds up, you can tune into Texas-Cleveland on KRLD 1080-AM at 2:05 Central time.
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(c) Jamey Newberg