Robbie Ross is thriving in his current role, but will he eventually be in the rotation?
-- Ben S., Carrollton, Texas
Not likely. If the Rangers needed another starter for an extended period of time, they would probably turn to either Alexi Ogando or Scott Feldman. My guess is Feldman, because both Ogando and Ross fill vital roles in the bullpen. There is a possibility in a year or two the club might give Ross a chance to start like it has with others. But right now, he is the team's only left-hander in the bullpen, and that's a valuable commodity.
Josh Hamilton is a great hitter, but why can't he lay off those pitches that are down and away? If Hamilton did, he would be an even better offensive threat, by getting more walks and forcing pitchers to throw more pitches closer to the strike zone.
-- Robert S., Fort Worth
Hamilton was asked similar questions earlier this week about hitting, and his response was, "I don't think about half the things you guys ask me about." Look, manager Ron Washington would also like for Hamilton to be more selective at the plate. Adrian Beltre has told Hamilton to take a walk and let him make the pitcher pay. Juan Gonzalez was susceptible to those same pitches down and away. Aggressive hitters are, but that's also part of Hamilton's strength at the plate. Washington has made it clear he does not want to take away Hamilton's aggressiveness.
Do Major League catchers provide their own equipment or does the team provide it? And along that line, how many gloves does a big league backstop use a year?
-- Steve B., Wylie, Texas
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According to Jim Sundberg, the Rangers' former Gold Glove catcher, teams provide the catching gear in the Minors. As for Major League backstops, most of them have contracts with the various sporting goods companies. As far as the number of gloves used, Sundberg said, "When I started playing ball, I used one a month, always breaking in another. As my career progressed, I used less until my last few years, where I used just one and sewed it up when it tore. So overall, anywhere from one to several a year, depending on the taste of catcher."
I was at the Rays-Rangers game and noticed David Murphy was taking a little hop before every pitch. Is this something he does every game and why does he do that?
-- Timothy J., Wolfe City Texas
Many fielders like to have their feet moving when the pitch is thrown so they don't get caught flat-footed when the ball is hit. Murphy worked hard in Spring Training on getting better jumps, and this is part of it.
With Washington getting ejected in the eighth inning of Sunday's game against the Rays, I have to wonder, how does a manager getting thrown out impact a game? I can see the affects going both ways: a positive because it could be motivating and a negative because the manager is no longer there to make some of the decisions. In the end, is a team any better or worse because of an ejection?
-- Aaron B., Waco, Texas
The biggest thing a manager does when he gets ejected from a game is protect his player from being thrown out as well. In this case, Ian Kinsler was upset over a called third strike and was in danger of being tossed before Washington intervened. As far as running the game, that is left in the hands of bench coach Jackie Moore, but all managers have ways of conveying strategy decisions from the comfort of their office or wherever else they end up after getting ejected.
How does Mitch Moreland not slap a bunt down the third-base line in the seventh inning of Sunday's game with a man on and down by three with a huge overshift on? If he does, the tying run is at the plate. Instead, he strikes out on three pitches.
-- Aaron G., Arlington
There are a couple of thoughts in play here. No. 1, even though fans think otherwise, dropping a bunt is just not that automatic. Bunting is a skill more than a fundamental that can be done at will. Secondly, one reason why managers employ a drastic shift is they think they can get in the head of an opposing hitter and get him to change his approach at the plate. One prevailing theory on how to attack a shift is simply by ignoring it and not changing anything at the plate.
With all of the changes to the outfield at Rangers Ballpark, what is the new seat count? I think I remember it being just over 49,000 before the construction.
-- Greg P., Little Elm, Texas
It went from 49,170 to 48,194 as far as official capacity, but the actual paid attendance announced when there is a sellout varies. It could be higher than capacity because of standing room tickets or it could be lower depending on two-for-one discounts or comp tickets given out.
What is wrong with Elvis Andrus' mouth. Is he wearing braces or is it some kind of protector?
-- Dolores R., Dallas
Andrus is wearing a mouthpiece because it keeps him from clenching and grinding his teeth during the game. It also prevents him from biting his nails.
I was listening to a talk show and I heard a guest on the show say that by the Trade Deadline, he projected Justin Morneau to be our everyday first baseman. What are your thoughts on Morneau and what would it take to get a deal done with him and the Twins?
-- Jake S., Southlake, Texas
Morneau was once one of the premier young power hitters in the game, but he has suffered from some physical problems the past few years. Most notable has been lingering effects from concussion syndrome that have threatened at times to cut short and otherwise marvelous career. He is also signed for next year at $14 million, which is certainly not a salary the Rangers want to take on with other pending obligations with potential free agents.
I am a long-time Rangers fan. We own a bakery in Midlothian. How can we get our baked goods into Rangers Ballpark or at least to Tom Grieve and Dave Barnett?
-- Kent H., Mansfield, Texas
Why do the TV broadcasters get all the great treats while the writers have to rummage through Wanda's salad bar? Doesn't seem fair, but since everybody loves Grieve, you can drop off the goods at the media elevator on the main concourse behind home plate.