Rangers go to spring with new manager and hope for health

February 19 22:59 2015

The Texas Rangers go to spring training with a new manager, a few new pitchers, some healed hurlers and a couple of big-money bats they hope can stay healthy this time. After an AL-worst 95 losses last year, their most since 1985, the Rangers are ready for the fresh start that comes with spring training and a new season. “We talk about establishing an identity or a cohesiveness. I think there is going to be a lot of that this spring,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “Even a core group that just hasn’t been on the field together. I think establishing roles, staying healthy, and establishing what we want to be about, it’s going to be big this spring.”hi-res-15447cc70bc0a22f02860e78a4c2c9d1_crop_north

Jeff Banister takes over as manager after 29 seasons in Pittsburgh’s organization, from being drafted in 1986 to the past four years as bench coach for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. “I think you can make a pretty strong case the biggest addition we’ve made this winter was Jeff,” Daniels said. Even when losses were piling up during an injury-plagued season, Daniels had no intention of changing managers until Ron Washington’s sudden resignation for personal reasons with three weeks left. Bench coach Tim Bogar went 14-8 as interim manager, but Banister won over Rangers officials during the interview process.

Slugger Prince Fielder and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo were the big additions before last season. Fielder had missed only one game the previous five seasons but played only 42 games in his Rangers debut before neck surgery in May. Choo dealt with nagging injuries much of the year and hit .242 before operations late on his left elbow and left ankle.

Ace Yu Darvish, who didn’t pitch after Aug. 9 because of elbow inflammation, has already been throwing off the mound in Arizona. The right-hander was 10-7 with a 3.06 ERA and 182 strikeouts in 22 starts in his third season since leaving Japan for Texas. Lefty Derek Holland missed five months due to left knee surgery after being tripped by his dog on the stairs of his home last winter. He got back at the end of the season, going 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in 37 innings over six appearances.

Yovani Gallardo, acquired in a trade from Milwaukee, is expected to be the No. 3 starter, ahead of Colby Lewis. Newcomers Ross Detwiler and Anthony Ranaudo are expected front-runners for the fifth spot. With the Rangers set for the first workout for pitchers and catchers Saturday in Surprise, Arizona, five days before the first full-squad workout, here are a few things to watch: