"It wouldn't be Rangers spring training," Daniels said, "without a little bit of crazy going on."
As the Rangers prepare for their 40-day trip to Surprise, Ariz., the Rangers have a lot of crazy going on.
There is the presence of Japanese right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish, who will be joined by a cast of more than 170 Japanese media members. There is the ongoing saga of outfielder Josh Hamilton, who slipped in his battle for sobriety in late January and has only been interviewed on Glenn Beck's website. Oh, and there is the little matter of being one pitch away from winning the World Series last October, only to have it all slip away.
"We've dealt with distractions before," Daniels said. "I don't think there is a team better equipped to deal with distractions than this team. I don't think our guys need extra motivation, but from day one last spring, our focus was just amplified. I know we lost in more dramatic fashion this time, but I think, if anything that will only motivate us more. I hope it will be the same deal this time."
The good news is that even if there are some distractions, there aren't a lot of decisions that could be affected. The Rangers are pretty much set, except for who plays center field and some fringe roster spots.
The Rangers like it that way. Truth be told, Daniels hates making spring training decisions.
"There is a lot to be said for observing things in spring training," Daniels said. "You observe the focus, the mindset, any changes a guy has made to his body or his game, but when you start making decisions based on spring training results, they are often just not reliable. It's a unique environment -- playing day games in Arizona and often facing guys they wouldn't face during the regular season -- and it can leave you open to making questionable decisions."
In center field, the Rangers are leaving things wide open for Craig Gentry, Julio Borbon and Leonys Martin to duke it out. All three are speedy. Gentry is the most refined of the three and the superior defender. He played significant time in center field over the final five weeks of the season.
Rangers Notes & Quotes
"There were too many balls last year that, at the end of the play, I was thinking, 'I could have caught that." Murphy said improving his defense is the biggest improvement he can make this season.
While Josh Hamilton will figure to play some center, the team would like to keep him in left as much as possible. That leaves things wide open for Gentry, Julio Borbon and Leonys Martin to compete.
"I need to put together consistent quality at-bats," Gentry said. "If I can get on base and make things happen, I can do some things."
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