TEMPE, Ariz. -- While the Texas Rangers wrapped up the Arizona portion of their major league spring training schedule Wednesday, the team still has three preseason games remaining. Many questions have been answered, but with only a few days until Opening Day in Houston on Sunday, there are a few more items to keep an eye on until then.
Manager Ron Washington announced after Wednesday's game that Alexi Ogando is his No. 3 starter and Derek Holland is the No. 4. Holland will start the home opener April 5 against the Angels, but Washington said that did not play into his decision at all. Nick Tepesch earned the fifth-starter job out of training camp, but that was largely because choices were limited by the spring injuries to Martin Perez and Kyle McClellan, and because Colby Lewis is still recovering from surgery. Lewis and Perez could be back by the end of May. Will one of them unseat Tepesch? Good outings between now and then would make the choice much easier. Tepesch struggled in his previous two spring outings when he faced better-caliber hitters, but he pitched well Wednesday in a minor league game for Round Rock (Triple-A).
We know Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry will share time in center and also see time in the outfield corners. We still don't know who will start Opening Day or who will see more playing time, as manager Ron Washington said he isn't announcing a platoon. Outfield is a strong position for Texas, so this is a case of finding time for good players instead of making the best of a bad situation.
Julio Borbon remains in purgatory, as he is out of options and cannot be sent to the minors. President of baseball operations/general manager Jon Daniels said he has talked to teams about Borbon and there is interest. The Rangers will try to trade him before making a roster decision. The Rangers might keep Borbon when they break camp, adding an extra bat to their roster until they need to officially sign Tepesch as the fifth starter for the April 9 game against Tampa. That window will be much tighter if Texas decides to add an eighth reliever instead.
The final two of the seven bullpen slots have not been announced. Those will fall into place after the Rangers decide whether they want to take an extra arm or bat until the April 9 game. If they go with a bat, the final two will be named. If they go with an arm, three more will get the nod. Whoever they choose might be placeholders for Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz, who are both expected to join the bullpen later this season.
Leury Garcia earned the backup middle-infield role, meaning top prospect Jurickson Profar will begin the season in the minors. The question is, how long will Profar stay there? If Garcia struggles -- remember, he is a rookie, too -- will Profar get the nod? Also, Profar has only 33 days of service time, and allowing him to get more experience at Triple-A stops the clock for a longer period of time. With three Gold Glove players in the Texas infield, there is no rush to bring the super rookie up. However, if he tears up Triple-A pitching, the temptation to have him in Arlington might be too strong to resist.