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ST22: Rangers beat Diamondbacks, 8-7

When I followed Kevin Millwood in Philadelphia, the one that that always dogged him was that he wasn’t cut out to be the number one pitcher in a rotation. That his mental makeup wasn’t cut out to be the top dog, especially in a market that tends to devour its sports players. So he goes to Cleveland, and pitches one really good season, having a fantastic season in the ERA department, and signs a five year deal with the Rangers. He has a good first year, winning 16, if his ERA was up. 2007 was not terribly good for Kevin.
That brings us to 2008. Kevin Millwood makes his first official spring training start. He was looking good. From a pitching standpoint, this was a good outing. Kevin went five innings, giving up no runs on just three hits and walk; striking out five. This is the kind of pitching we need from him if we’re going to go anywhere. As for his makeup, well, he seems to fit in well here in Texas. We’re not as rabid (well, unless your last name is Galloway) as the press in Philly, and Kevin’s laid back demeanor seems to have a nice Texas fit to it. At least that’s my perception of it. So I continue to hold out hope that he really can be the number one pitcher we need him to be. As always, our pitching needs are great. Yeah, everyone always needs more pitching, but the Rangers always seem to need it more than others. Especially when you look at the other teams in our division (except maybe Oakland this year), our guys don’t seem to stand up. It’s where we need more of the type of pitching Kevin showed yesterday in Tuscon.
One of the other questions of this spring is the catching situation. In the offseason, a statement was made that Saltamacchia was named “the man” for 2008. That definitely seems to have changed, as a lot of local press is making it out to seem that it’s assumed now that Saltamacchia will be starting at AAA to get the regular job, while Laird will be the guy in the majors. Quite frankly, despite last year’s offensive dropoff, Laird is definitely a better defensive catcher. I don’t think anyone believes that Laird is the long term guy at catcher, but he is the guy now. The future is any number of names (Saltamacchia, Ramirez, Teagarden), so you keep Laird. Then there’s the mix of Broussard not doing well offensively at 1B, so he could go there, too. We’ll find out more in the next 7 days I imagine.
About this game itself, Saltamacchia muddled the offensive situation at catcher by going 2-4 with FOUR RBI’s, and a run scored on a home run. Hank Blalock also homered. However, Salty’s batting average is at .231, which is not great. Yeah, you could say that you need a larger sample than spring, and you hear a lot that spring numbers don’t matter as much. However, more jobs are won and lost based on the small samples in spring, so it definitely seems like Salty is going to AAA. At least for now. Things change much, and if you’re reading this site, you know that. :)
This game had a lot more extra base hits than singles. We had two home runs (Blalock, Salty), and three doubles (Blalock, Salty, & Josh Hamilton). Just two singles in there.
Wes Littleton had a bad outing, and doesn’t seem to be doing many favors for himself. He went just one inning, giving up five hits and one walk for four earned runs in all.
It’s almost time for big cuts to be made, and these bad performances like Littleton had tend to weigh rather heavy in the minds of the decision makers, who according to an article in the DMN today are going to be working out their roster in the next few days or so.