Rangers set for fresh start in Surprise
Pitchers, catchers report, but they're not alone in the desert
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers first baseman Ben Broussard was among the position players who worked out on Thursday, the day that pitchers and catchers were reporting for Spring Training."I drove 15 hours straight to get here," said Broussard, who lives in the central Texas town of Georgetown. "I couldn't wait to get started. I'm excited." He is hardly the only one. While all pitchers and catchers were present or accounted for on the reporting date, the Rangers clubhouse had plenty of position players in there as well. The first official workout for position players isn't until Wednesday but many are eager to get going. Among those who were present Thursday were infielders Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis, Joaquin Arias, Travis Metcalf, German Duran and Ryan Roberts and outfielders Jason Botts, Josh Hamilton, David Murphy, John Mayberry Jr. and Brandon Boggs. "These guys are eager and they are in great shape," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We talked to them about coming into camp in great shape and they did just that." This will be the sixth season that the Rangers have held Spring Training in Surprise and their first-class training facility remains a year-round mecca for players looking to work out. Many players show up here well before the reporting date. Botts has been here for a week and has already had three sessions working with Washington on playing first base. The complex is open year-round. Chris Guth runs the day-to-day operations while pitching coaches Keith Comstock and David Chavarria and hitting coordinator Mike Boulanger oversee the workouts. Now the Major League staff is here as well. Washington begins his second season as Rangers manager after leading the team to a 75-87 record in 2007. "I'm much more relaxed this year," Washington said. "We all learned from each other last year and we all know what to expect out of each other. We brought in some pieces in the offseason and if we're healthy, I'll take my chances with this team." The Rangers held their first organizational meeting on Monday and new club president Nolan Ryan was among those who attended. Ryan has returned to Texas but is expected back when the games start on Feb. 27.
"We always have a kickoff meeting: the big league staff, front office, several of the scouts, Minor League staff and instructors," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We want to make sure they are all on the same page and we discuss all our players in the organization. Nolan had a chance to address the group and it was all very well-received. It was a very good day."Philosophically he reaffirmed what we are doing. He believes in building the infrastructure as far as scouting and player development. He's a very down-to-earth guy who fits right in the room. He's very good about being able to put people's minds to ease. To a man we feel very positive that we are all on the same page, from the owner, club president to the field staff." The Rangers have 60 players expected in camp by Feb. 20, including 28 pitchers and six catchers. Pitcher Thomas Diamond (elbow surgery) and Arias will be limited in their workouts, as will be outfielder Milton Bradley (knee) and pitcher Kazuo Fukumori (elbow). Catcher Gerald Laird is nursing a sprained ankle and may be limited at the beginning. Fukumori is healthy and throwing off the mound but is coming back from surgery and the Rangers want to be careful with him. The Rangers first game is scheduled for February 27 against the Kansas City Royals. The Rangers and the Royals have shared the 132-acre complex and the 10,714 seat stadium in Surprise for the past five years since it opened in 2003. Prior to that, the Rangers/Washington Senators trained in Port Charlotte (Fla.) from 1987-2002 and before that in Pompano Beach (Fla.) from the beginning of the franchise in 1961.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.