Hamilton leaves Rangers camp to have left knee examined

Veteran slugger has had three surgeries since September 2015

Hamilton leaves Rangers camp to have left knee examined

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton aggravated his surgically repaired left knee and has flown back to Texas to be examined by Dr. Walt Lowe in Houston.

Hamilton felt a problem with the knee while doing "arc" running on Tuesday, which means he was running at an angle and simulating baserunning rather than just a straight line.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Reno connection runs deep with Rangers catchers

Reno connection runs deep with Rangers catchers

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers catcher Steven Lerud, in camp on a Minor League contract, has been given No. 38. That's the number worn by catcher Chris Gimenez when he played for the Rangers in 2014-15, and the connection runs deep.

Lerud and Gimenez both live in Reno and work out together in the offseason. Lerud also helped Gimenez many years ago when he was in the Minor Leagues and making the transition to catcher.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rangers on board with automatic intentional walk

Rangers on board with automatic intentional walk

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister and pitching coach Doug Brocail are both on board with new rule allowing for automatic intentional walks.

"If it helps in the art of cutting seconds off the game, I'm fine with that," Banister said Wednesday. "As a former catcher, it's not something you practice every day with the pitchers. It's the art of not throwing a strike.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

AL-inclusive: Everyone has eyes on West title

AL-inclusive: Everyone has eyes on West title

PHOENIX -- Jerry Dipoto knows that the Astros are favored to win the American League West, and if baseball analysts aren't talking about Jose Altuve's budding powerhouse, they're focused on the Rangers. Why not? They've won the AL West two years in a row.

Dipoto hides his confidence with a sheepish grin.

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Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rangers use a little luck to get Napoli back

Rangers use a little luck to get Napoli back

PHOENIX -- The Indians wanted first baseman Mike Napoli back and they might have pulled it off if Edwin Encarnacion had not fallen into their lap.

The Indians ended up signing Encarnacion to a three-year, $60 million deal and the Rangers, after a month of stalled negotiations, signed Napoli to a one-year, $8.5 million contract.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rangers to get long look at catching depth

Trevino, Cantwell under spotlight as teammates head to Classic

Rangers to get long look at catching depth

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers catching depth will be tested well before the end of Spring Training.

Jonathan Lucroy and Robinson Chirinos leave March 6 to play in the World Baseball Classic, leaving behind prime opportunity for six catchers -- including top prospect Jose Trevino -- trying to make an impression on the Rangers.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Task at hand: Win World Series

Banister and players believe they are ring worthy

Task at hand: Win World Series

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Mission incomplete.

That's the underlying theme manager Jeff Banister is conveying to his team as the Rangers get ready for their first full-squad workout of Spring Training on Tuesday. A team meeting is set before the workout.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

In first spring BP, Darvish breaks off a bat

In first spring BP, Darvish breaks off a bat

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish threw five minutes of live batting practice Monday, the first time he has faced hitters this spring.

Hanser Alberto and Nomar Mazara were among the hitters facing Darvish. Alberto had his bat broken by Darvish on one pitch.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mazara bracing for challenge of sophomore season

Mazara bracing for challenge of sophomore season

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Josh Hamilton hit .292 with 19 home runs and 47 RBIs as a Reds rookie in 2007, then jumped to .304 with 32 home runs and 130 RBIs in 2008 after being traded to the Rangers.

So much for the sophomore slump.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Matwick has three messages for fans on Presidents Day

Matwick has three messages for fans on Presidents Day

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- There is much going with the Rangers as they get ready to defend another American League West title. There is a new ballpark on the horizon and construction beginning on a new entertainment venue.

Rob Matwick, the Rangers' vice president of business operations, is overseeing it all as well as the fan experience at Globe Life Park. Highly respected within the industry and a member of the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame, Matwick is in his 32nd year in Major League Baseball.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Claudio's 2016 success earns spot in '17 bullpen

Claudio's 2016 success earns spot in '17 bullpen

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers' bullpen could be loaded with power right-handed arms this season, but it should also include one soft-tossing lefty.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister confirmed that Alex Claudio did enough last year to earn a spot in the 2017 bullpen.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Healthy after surgery, Andrus arrives at camp

Rangers shortstop had procedure in November to repair sports hernia

Healthy after surgery, Andrus arrives at camp

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus showed up at camp on Saturday, and he said he has no limitations as he completes his recovery from offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia.

Andrus said he needs to build up his strength and endurance, but otherwise he is good to go physically. His effort level is about 80-90 percent because he doesn't want to push it too early.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Middlebrooks not fazed by addition of Napoli

Looking to get his career back on track, corner infielder welcomes former teammate

Middlebrooks not fazed by addition of Napoli

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Add infielder Will Middlebrooks to the list of Rangers players influenced by the signing of first baseman Mike Napoli.

Middlebrooks can also be put on the list of those who are not going to let it get him down, even though he signed with Texas in November with the idea of trying to win a job as its first baseman.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brocail lauds prospect Sadzeck's improvement

Banister emphasizes approach of pitching on inside half of the plate

Brocail lauds prospect Sadzeck's improvement

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rookie right-hander Connor Sadzeck is in his second big league camp, and pitching coach Doug Brocail said he can see a big difference from last season.

"Nothing like I expected," Brocail said. "It was really good ... under control and with a better tempo."

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Beltre not ruling out playing at start of Classic

Rangers slugger expected to miss about three weeks with left calf strain

Beltre not ruling out playing at start of Classic

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers are not expecting third baseman Adrian Beltre to play at the start of the World Baseball Classic because of a strained left calf muscle, the club announced on Friday. An MRI confirmed the diagnosis of a Grade 1 strain, and he is expected to be sidelined about three weeks.

But Beltre was adamant on Saturday morning that he has not ruled that out completely, even though the Rangers have already announced he would not play at least in the first round.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gallo, Profar willing to play any spot on field

Former top Rangers prospects battling to earn time

Gallo, Profar willing to play any spot on field

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Jurickson Profar, besides being an extremely smart baseball player, is also accomplished at the art of diplomacy.

But a bit of honestly also does seep through the ever-present smile.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scheppers grateful Rangers have stuck by him

Oft-injured righty throwing 95 mph, could be key piece in 'pen

Scheppers grateful Rangers have stuck by him

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers had 14 pitchers throw their second bullpen session of the spring Friday, and pitching coach Doug Brocail was thrilled with what he saw.

"We had a phenomenal day," Brocail said. "Everybody looked great."

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Welcome back, Nap: Slugger introduced by Rangers

Welcome back, Nap: Slugger introduced by Rangers

SURPRISE, Ariz.-- The Rangers filled their last big need of the offseason when they officially announced the signing of free agent Mike Napoli to a one-year contract with an option for 2018.

Napoli will be the Rangers' primary first baseman and will also see some time at designated hitter. But his defense is secondary.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

With Napoli addition, DH role likely to fall to Choo

With Napoli addition, DH role likely to fall to Choo

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Shin-Soo Choo is likely to get significant time at designated hitter this season. It may be more than he wants, but that's the biggest development with the Rangers' signing of first baseman Mike Napoli.

"Choo is going to DH some," manager Jeff Banister said. "The number of times is yet to be determined. We haven't played a game yet. We'll see how it lines up in left field."

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Talented Odor just scratching the surface

Talented Odor just scratching the surface

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rougned Odor will be on the bench for Team Venezuela during the World Baseball Classic. All-Star infielder Jose Altuve is the starting second baseman so Odor, added this week as an injury substitution, will be used mainly as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner.

He may even play third base if needed.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Darvish ready to 'pitch at a higher level'

Darvish ready to 'pitch at a higher level'

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister met with his pitchers before the first official workout on Wednesday and gave them the annual obvious reminder that you can't win a job on the first day.

Yu Darvish heeded the manager's words.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Griffin fighting for rotation spot

Retooled offseason workout reveals fitter, stronger righty

Griffin fighting for rotation spot

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- For the second straight year, Rangers right-hander A.J. Griffin enters Spring Training having to win a spot in the rotation.

He may be better equipped to do so this spring. He has lost weight, smoothed out his delivery and is one year more removed from the arm injuries that sidelined him for almost all of 2014-15.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Diekman overcoming stomach surgery

Left-hander feeling 'great,' eyeing second-half return

Diekman overcoming stomach surgery

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitcher Jake Diekman can't throw, run, ride an exercise bike or lift anything more than 5-10 pounds. He has a colostomy bag attached to his abdomen and is not going to pitch until at least the All-Star break.

But, on reporting day for Rangers pitchers and catchers, Diekman was easily the happiest guy in camp now that he is almost three weeks removed from stomach surgery.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lewis says farewell to Rangers organization

Veteran right-hander resurrected career with team, not ready to officially retire

Lewis says farewell to Rangers organization

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Colby Lewis had a remarkable run with the Rangers, but it is officially over. Lewis is not ready to retire, but he acknowledged on Tuesday he is not returning to the Rangers.

Rangers pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training on Tuesday, and Lewis was not among them for the first time in eight years. He remains a free agent and may pitch again under the right circumstances.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rangers add knuckleballer Gamboa to roster

Rangers add knuckleballer Gamboa to roster

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have acquired right-handed knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa from the Rays for either a player to be named or cash considerations.

The Rangers made room on their 40-man roster by placing both reliever Jake Diekman -- who is recovering from surgery to remove his colon -- and infielder Prince Fielder on the 60-day disabled list.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.