I have to say, only recently have I been able to shake the tragic ending to last season. Never in my life have I been so pained by a sports loss (that I wasn’t directly involved in). To be one strike away twice… see there I go again ruminating on the past. It helps to know that I am not alone in the heartbreak. I always chat up people I see around wearing Ranger’s gear and keep hearing the same story: “yeah I haven’t really been able to get back into baseball since game 6. Still hurts too much.” For a friend of mine it not only ruined baseball, but watching sports overall. He swears he will never get that emotionally involved with a sports team ever again.
Well I am here to say that with spring in the air and Opening Day approximately three weeks away that I am officially EXCITED. And we (Ranger’s fans) have good reason to be excited. Our roster is essentially the same as last season, minus CJ Wilson. That sounds like a big loss, especially since we will be facing him and Prince Albert in the battle for the AL West. Yet for the first time since I can remember, the Rangers are deep in both the starting rotation and bullpen. As it stands now, Colby Lewis will be the Opening Day starter, followed by Derek Holland, Yu Darvish, and Matt Harrison, leaving Neftali Feliz as the fifth starter who is officially being stretched into a starter. Derek Holland just signed a 5 year $28 million contract and I believe he has earned. Feliz has been working on adding pitches to that blistering fastball, and is reported to have 3 solid pitches now: Fastball, change, and slider. Let’s not forget about Alexi Ogando who had a great first half of the season last year as a starter, though Ron Washington says he will not use a six man starting rotation. That is an awesome variety of pitching styles to throw at opponents: righty, lefty, righty, lefty, and a fireballer to top it off. In the bullpen, we have Mike Adams as the set up man still followed by our new closer Joe Nathan (the jury is still out on him post Tommy Johns surgery though). Ogando will be the first man out of the pen with “Scooter” Scott Feldman for long relief. No matter how you look at it, the pitching is rock solid.
If that’s not enough reason to be excited, we are returning EVERY fielding position from last season. The whole gang is back with more motivation (spite?) than ever. Too early to consider back-to-back-TO-BACK World Series appearances? Hey, it’s happened 4 times since division play started, why not make it 5?