Paralyzed Draft pick visits Rangers' camp
Taylor shares message of inspiration with Minor Leaguers
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- On Saturday, Johnathan Taylor shared a message of hope with Rangers Minor Leaguers in the tent above the right-field wall at Surprise Stadium. On Monday, Taylor will receive a Courage Award from the Tempe Sports Authority Foundation.
"He's a tremendous story, and the reason it's such a good story is that he has so much going for him," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "He's a tremendous young man. We had him come out during the postseason and we felt like the message he has is worthwhile for our kids to hear."
The Rangers drafted Taylor in the 33rd round on the final day of 2011 First-Year Player Draft, two days after the club drafted his University of Georgia teammate Zach Cone, the 37th overall pick, on the first day of the Draft.
The pair shined at the University of Georgia until last March when an outfield collision between the two left Taylor paralyzed.
"He talks about making the most of what they have and taking advantage of the opportunities that they have and in his situation how things can be taken from you in life," Daniels said. "Live every day to the fullest and work your hardest. He also has a great message of perseverance and the power of a positive mind-set."
Washington keeps center-field job up for grabs
LAS VEGAS -- Rangers manager Ron Washington, back with the team on Saturday, said the center-field job is "still open."Josh Hamilton has played center field in Spring Training and will during the regular season. But Washington is still hoping that he can get most of his time in left and that somebody else -- Julio Borbon, Craig Gentry or Leonys Martin -- can be the Rangers' center fielder. "I'm not going to anoint anybody yet," Washington said. "It's still open. I'm hoping somebody steps up."
Washington admitted that Borbon may be doing that. He went into Saturday's game with the Cubs with a .294 batting average and a .455 on-base percentage."He's done everything he's supposed to do," Washington said. "He's run balls down in center, he's getting on base and running the bases and he's swinging the bat." Gentry, who is 1-for-13 at the plate, has been sidelined for the past four days with a sprained left wrist. But he took batting practice on Saturday and may play on Sunday against the Brewers in Maryvale.
Trip to Las Vegas all business for Hamilton
LAS VEGAS -- Outfielder Josh Hamilton had a big time in Las Vegas on Friday night after the Rangers' charter arrived from Phoenix."I had dinner with [his wife Katie] and was in bed by 8:30," Hamilton said. He has another big night planned for Saturday. "I'm going to have dinner with my wife and be in bed by 8:30," Hamilton said. Not many in Las Vegas will follow his example on Saturday night, but Hamilton has no problem joining the Rangers for their two-day trip to a place that doesn't seem to mind the nickname of "Sin City." "Business is business," said Hamilton, who has spent the past six weeks focusing on his recovery from a second relapse in ongoing recovery from substance abuse addiction. "It's amazing ... I see people throwing their money away," Hamilton said. "This is the first time my wife has been here and it's a lot different than she expected. It's not run down like you see in the movies. It's really nice and they cater to whatever you need." Manager Ron Washington told all his players to be careful while in Las Vegas. "I did tell them to enjoy themselves but reminded them we are still in Spring Training," Washington said. "We've got to come out here and play."
Darvish focuses on windup in bullpen session
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers starter Yu Darvish worked on his mechanics, specifically pitching out of the windup, in a bullpen session for the second consecutive day on Saturday.
Darvish had not pitched out of the windup prior to the start of Spring Training.
"It looked very smooth and he located all of his off-speed pitches very well," Rangers bullpen coach Andy Hawkins said. "He located his fastball better today, and that's something that was of concern to him. He looked good."
Darvish, who is scheduled to throw four innings or 65 pitches in his third Cactus League start Monday against the Brewers in Surprise, has allowed two runs on five hits and has struck out six batters in five innings in his first two Cactus League starts. He has also walked four batters.
"His fastball command hasn't been quite where he wants it to be and quite where we want it to be," Hawkins said. "But again, that just puts him with a lot of big league pitchers halfway through camp. There are guys still working on things and so is Yu."
Maddux enjoys challenging pitchers in spring
LAS VEGAS -- More pitching observations from pitching coach Mike Maddux: On having Nolan Ryan and Greg Maddux in camp to talk to pitchers: "These are two guys that have 600 wins and 9,000 strikeouts between them plus all the other honors and accolades. They did it differently, but their approach and philosophy are similar. We're all on the same page, they were just better at doing it than the rest of us. There's no shame in that. But when guys with the accolades say it, their voices are heard a little louder and clearer." On Spring Training experiments: "I'm big on guys trying things. You challenge them. This is the time to field test things. If it works, great. If it doesn't, that's what Spring Training is for. You don't have to wonder what might have been. That's what I'm happiest with this spring, guys trying new things." On Joe Nathan: "He's a 37-year-old teenager. He brings so much spunk ... he leads by example. Young guys see an old guy doing it faster than you, better than you, with more energy, you better look in the mirror. He has been great."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.