Rangers fire up camp in Arizona

Rangers fire up camp in Arizona

Rangers fire up camp in Arizona
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitchers report to Spring Training on Wednesday, and most of them are scheduled to throw live batting practice on Thursday. Matt Harrison, who has been throwing off a mound for a couple of weeks, can't wait.

"I'm bored just throwing to a catcher," Harrison said.

He need not wait any longer. Harrison is one of 31 pitchers who are expected to "officially" report on Wednesday. They will be joined by six catchers in fulfilling those long-awaited words: "Pitchers and catchers report." It's baseball's version of "Gentlemen, start your engines."

As far as the Rangers are concerned, that is nothing more than a ceremonial date. Most pitchers started reporting earlier this week and are already working out at the complex. That is all voluntary. The first official workout for pitchers and catchers is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. MST Thursday.

Position players report on Saturday, and the first full-squad workout is on Sunday. But many position players are also arriving early including shortstop Elvis Andrus, first baseman Mitch Moreland and second baseman Ian Kinsler. Throw in rookie third baseman Mike Olt, and the Rangers could even take infield right now.

This marks the 10th season that the Rangers have held Spring Training at the facility they share with the Royals. The complex at the Surprise Recreation Campus opened in 2003 but is moving toward older half of Spring Training venues in Arizona.

Since the Rangers and Royals have arrived, new complexes have opened for the Indians and Reds in Goodyear, White Sox and Dodgers in Glendale and the Rockies and D-backs in Scottsdale. The Cubs are expected to move into a new facility in Mesa by 2014, and the Athletics are looking into moving as well.

The Rangers are halfway through their 20-year lease with the city of Surprise but remain extremely happy with their all-encompassing complex. The Rangers' side of the complex includes a two-story building that contains the front office on the second floor and both the Major and Minor League clubhouses on the bottom floor, along with kitchen, cafeteria, training room, weight room and storage space.

Behind the clubhouses are six full fields, a half-field for infield work, a football-sized field for conditioning and running, and a small enclosed area for bunting. In between all of these fields are a dozen bullpen mounds for pitchers to do their work, plus one big indoor batting cage area for hitters to take their hacks and two smaller areas.

"It's an unbelievable place," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "There's not a lot to do around here which actually works in our favor. But as far as the conditions of the fields, they're incredible. I know the stadium they built for the Diamondbacks and the Rockies is really nice, but I can't think of another place that keeps the fields in great shape."

The complex is also compact. Despite the presence of 14 golf carts, everything is within walking distance.

"It's all right here," Kinsler said. "If you need to get at-bats in a Minor League game, it's one golf cart ride away."

The Rangers will be here until they break camp on April 1. Their first Spring Training game is scheduled for March 4 against the Royals in the 10,500-seat main stadium that the two teams share.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.