Tag:Tommy Hunter
Posted on: May 2, 2011 2:31 pm

Hunter to pitch rehab game Wednesday

By Matt Snyder

Matt Harrison's days in the Rangers' starting rotation may be numbered.

Tommy Hunter, who went down late in the spring with a groin injury, is getting the ball for Double-A Frisco Wednesday. The target the Rangers have in mind is reportedly 45-50 pitches and he'll be ready to rejoin the major-league club once he gets up into the 90-pitch range -- which should be about three starts, barring setbacks. (SportsDayDFW )

A few weeks ago, the thought was that Alexi Ogando would be moved back to the bullpen once Hunter was ready to return, but lanky right-hander is dealing and it would be foolish to throw that away. He's 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings. Meanwhile, Harrison has flat-lined. As I noted in 3 up, 3 down Sunday evening, Harrison has given up 14 hits and 11 earned runs in his past 4 2/3 innings. That's over the course of two starts, not just one. Things don't appear to get any easier next time around, as Harrison will face the slugging Yankees Friday. If he doesn't get things figured out very soon, he'll be the odd man out in the deep Rangers' rotation.

Hunter, 24, was 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 128 innings last season. He initially won a starting job out of spring training but then injured his groin the same day.

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Posted on: April 26, 2011 2:30 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2011 4:35 pm

Webb's (lack of) velocity a serious issue

By Matt Snyder

In this morning's Pepper , I passed along that Rangers' starting pitcher Brandon Webb threw two perfect innings in extended spring training. At the time, that was all the information that was at my disposal. After reading the report filed by Jason Grey of ESPN.com, there's definite reason to believe Webb isn't anywhere near being ready to return.

The reason is that his fastball is dangerously slow. Meaning, it's a high-school level velocity. He threw 12 fastballs, and Grey had Webb clocked at 84 one time. That was his fastest pitch. Everything else sat between 78-82 mph. Yes, he was throwing a fastball only 78 miles per hour.

For what it's worth, Webb still feels like he's going to get close to where he was before all his arm issues.

"[Pitching coordinator Keith Comstock] feels like there's more clicks in there, and I do too. I feel like there's definitely some more in there. I'm not too far off. 84 is a little low. When I was good I was probably 86-89, topping at 90 or so. If I can get back to 86-88 I think I'll be all right," Webb told Grey. (ESPN Insider )

Webb also told Grey he was "letting it go" and not holding back on his fastballs. So that's definitely a problem.

In terms of getting back to the bigs, the team Webb plays for is as much a problem as his velocity. The Rangers have gotten solid starting pitching, with a 3.56 ERA that ranks them third in starting ERA in the AL. With Colby Lewis and C.J. Wilson firmly entrenched in the rotation, Alexi Ogando and Matt Harrison going lights out, Derek Holland having a decent start and the impending returns of Tommy Hunter and Scott Feldman, there isn't exactly a pressing need for starting pitching. And with the Rangers figuring to be in the thick of the AL West race all season, there's no reason to rush anyone -- and the club certainly won't be throwing anyone out there who can't break 85 with a fastball.

At this point, I'd be shocked to see Webb on the Rangers before August and wouldn't even be surprised if he fails to make it the entire season. It's sad how quickly an arm injury has derailed his once-stellar career, but it appears to be the sobering reality -- no matter how optimistic Webb continues to remain.

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Posted on: April 26, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: April 26, 2011 4:36 pm

Pepper: Contentious homecoming

By Matt Snyder

Lance Berkman played in parts of 12 seasons for the Houston Astros. When he joined, he was the new member of the "Killer B's," along with Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. He was a five-time All-Star and finished in the top five of MVP voting four times. The Astros' career leaderboard is peppered with Berkman's name. He's first in OBP, second in slugging, fourth in batting average and second in OPS. Only Biggio, Bagwell and Jose Cruz played more games for the club. He ranks third in runs, fifth in hits, third in doubles, second in home runs and third in RBI.

Or, put more succinctly: Lance Berkman is one of the greatest Houston Astros of all time.

But things aren't exactly peachy now. Berkman was having the worst season of his career in 2010 -- still a 122 OPS-plus, by the way -- before being dealt to the Yankees. Now, Berkman is playing for Houston rival St. Louis.

As a Cardinal, he's back to his old mashing ways. He's Big Puma again, hitting .377 with a 1.173 OPS, six home runs, 15 RBI and 19 runs through 19 games. He leads the NL with a .725 slugging percentage.

The big start drew the ire of a Houston-area sportscaster, who suggested Berkman didn't work hard his "last few years" for the Astros and now he was back in shape. (Eye on Baseball )

Tuesday night, the Cardinals visit the Astros at Minute Maid Park for the start of a three-game series. Needless to say, Berkman isn't exactly looking forward to it.

"I'm not crazy about going back in there. I felt like I've kind of turned the page and part of me just wants to be done with it. But I know I'm going to have to go back in there and face a lot of questions."

"I guess it's inevitable. When I signed here, I knew we were going to go in there three times, so I'm ready to go and to get all the hoopla, if there is going to be any, out of the way." (stltoday.com )

For whatever it's worth, Berkman did note he's in better shape, though he pointed out it was because his knees are finally healthy again.

It's certainly going to be interesting to see what kind of reception he receives and how he plays.

BASEBALL TODAY: Will Andre Ethier extend his hitting streak tonight? Will Roy Oswalt and Aaron Harang remain unbeaten? C. Trent Rosecrans joins Lauren Shehadi to answer those questions and more.

FEAST OR FAMINE GUYS: When you think of guys who either hit home runs or strikeout -- the Rob Deer All-Stars, if you will -- the names Mark Reynolds and Adam Dunn are among those who come to mind. Carlos Pena, too, though he has been only famine thus far in 2011. Who are the ultimate feast or famine guys in the young season this time around? Beyond the Box Score took a look at the guys who are striking out or collecting extra base hits at the highest percentage. At the top? Jorge Posada, Kevin Youkilis and then ... Reynolds.

Rangers ROTATION UPDATE: The Texas Rangers have gotten pretty good starting pitching this season, other than from Colby Lewis -- who certainly isn't going to be removed from the rotation. Thus, they're pretty close to having an embarrassment of riches. Brandon Webb threw two hitless innings at an extended spring training game Monday. Scott Feldman is slated to throw three innings in extended spring training Thursday, while Tommy Hunter is going to throw in an extended spring game Saturday. Collectively, the Rangers' starters have a 3.56 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 103 strikeouts to 43 walks. The one expected to lose his rotation spot when someone comes back from injury is Alexi Ogando -- the guy who is 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA and astounding 0.79 WHIP. So are the Rangers going to remove him? Or Matt Harrison (3-1, 1.88, 0.94)? Or Derek Holland, C.J. Wilson or Lewis? It's quite a log-jam, once Webb, Hunter and Feldman return, particularly if Harrison and Ogando continue to throw the ball well. (Star-Telegram )

VOTE OF CONFIDENCE FOR OZZIE: On the heels of a 1-10 stretch, the White Sox got a close win Monday night in Yankee Stadium. It had to partially lift a big weight off their collective chests. Still, Guillen had recently put a target squarely on his own back, by saying if anyone should get canned, it should be himself. It was a noble move by Guillen, playing shield for his hitting and pitching coaches. Regardless, general manager Kenny Williams has now said it wasn't necessary. "The coaching staff is not throwing the baseball and not hitting the baseball," Williams said. "They’re doing what they’ve always done." (Chicago Sun-Times )

Mariners FUTILITY: The always-solid Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times discusses how bad the Mariners' offense is, and why it's going to get even worse. In fact, he argues there's a legitimate shot they'll score even fewer than last season's record-low 513 runs.

JAPANESE CONNECTION: Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki go back a long way. In fact, they first met in high school when Matsui committed a breach in bathing etiquette -- and Ichiro questioned him about it a decade later. Yes, seriously. There's a lot more in there about the relationship between the two, and it's definitely worth a read. (ESPN's West Coast Bias )

LA RUSSA IN OAKLAND: No, not Tony. His daughter, Bianca, has made the Raiders' cheerleading squad for the upcoming NFL season. (Shutdown Corner )

MANNY IN HIGH SCHOOL: Manny Ramirez hit .650 with 14 home runs in 22 games his senior year in high school. Oh, and check out this description of him in high school: "He was the shy, happy-go-lucky boy with the perfect swing who everyone knew was going to the major leagues. The boy who loved to hit more than anything else. The boy who worked harder than anyone else. The baby-faced boy who never drank anything stronger than the nonalcoholic Puerto Rican eggnog from the corner bodega he chugged to bulk up." The writer begs the question, which is the real Manny? An interesting quandry. (New York Times )

HEAT MAPS: NESN is using heat maps for Red Sox's broadcasts. I like the general idea, but there are a million possible variations. What would be best? Personally I'd want OPS by pitch location. (Baseball Analytics )

ATTENDANCE WOES: We're going to hear about this all season if things don't significantly pick up during the summer when the weather gets better. Yahoo! columnist Jeff Passan writes about how bad it looks for several teams and the league as a whole. A lot of numbers look really bad, but it's important to note the drop across the entire league through April 24 was only 1.77 percent. You could easily use the economy and some pretty awful weather to account for that. I'll stick with that for now. Let's revisit the topic in late July. Now, if you're down more than 20 percent (like the Rays and Mariners are), that's a problem. A big one.

A VISITOR'S TOUR OF WRIGLEY: page/COL">Rockies%3A+Blog%29" target="_blank">Troy Renck of the Denver Post took video to give fans a tour of the visitor's dugout at the historic Wrigley Field. Obviously I'd much rather experience things of this nature in person, but for now this'll do.

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Posted on: April 11, 2011 4:07 pm

Ogando brilliant again before finger woes

Alexi Ogando

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Blisters, so far, have been a bigger challenge for the Rangers' Alexi Ogando than starting.

Ogando left Monday's game against the Tigers with fluid under a callous on his right index finger after seven innings (the team was careful not to call it a blister). He was limited to six innings with a blister in his debut as a starter last week against the Mariners. However, manager Ron Washington told reporters he expects Ogando to make his next start, Sunday at Yankee Stadium (via Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Twitter).

The right-hander's second start was even better than his sensational first. Like against the Mariners, Ogando allowed just two hits on Monday, but he went an inning longer and walked one fewer. He had four strikeouts in both games.

Darren Oliver and Neftali Feliz finished out the game, each allowing a hit, to give the Rangers a 2-0 victory and improve their record to 9-1, even though TIgers starter Justin Verlander allowed only two runs on six hits in nine innings.

Ogando was originally scheduled just to be a fill-in starter when Tommy Hutner missed the start of the season with a groin injury and Brandon Webb was unable to start the season in his comeback. Ogando was expected to be the team's setup man for Feliz -- or replace him as the closer if Feliz were moved to the rotation.

As a reliever last season, Ogando, 27, had a 1.30 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings pitch.

Before opening day, Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan said Ogando would be returning to the bullpen "unless he excels so well that it makes sense to leave him in that position."

Two starts and 13 innings with no runs and four hits might qualify.

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Posted on: March 29, 2011 6:44 pm

Ryan: Ogando will return to bullpen

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Alexi OgandoAlexi Ogando's time in the Rangers' rotation will be short-lived, Texas CEO Nolan Ryan told reporters on Tuesday.

"I thinks with the needs of our bullpen, [Ogando] is going to need to be in the bullpen over the course of the year," Ryan said (via Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.) "That's what I would think unless he excels so well that it makes sense to leave him in that position."

Ogando is in the rotation until Tommy Hunter and Brandon Webb are ready to join the rotation.

Hunter, out with a groin injury, hopes to be able to return to baseball activity in the next week.

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Posted on: March 27, 2011 2:25 pm

Rangers looking to start Ogando

By Matt Snyder

With Tommy Hunter's ill-timed groin injury, the Rangers still have one open spot in the starting pitching rotation, and it appears Alexi Ogando is close to filling it. Ogando was moved to the bullpen -- in a setup role for stud closer Neftali Feliz -- last week, but the Hunter injury has forced the Rangers to rethink things. Ogando is going to stretch back out as a starter, which shouldn't be difficult considering he was starting just over a week ago, and will start Tuesday in an exhibition game. If things go well, he'll be slotted fourth, with Derek Holland being the No. 5. (Dallas Morning News )

Dave Bush, who was thought to be in the mix, has made the team and will join the bullpen as a long reliever. He's certainly still an option to start, should Ogando falter. Brett Tomko is another option, as he fights for one of the final roster spots. Michael Kirkman is still a consideration, but the Ogando move doesn't bode well for his immediate chances.

Ogando, 27, was stellar last season out of the pen. He compiled a 1.30 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings. He has a 5.06 ERA in 10 2/3 spring innings.

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Posted on: March 25, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2011 4:58 pm

Hunter could be out 6 weeks

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Tommy HunterThe day after being naming Tommy Hunter to the Rangers' starting rotation and answering the great Neftali Feliz closer/starter argument, Texas says Hunter could miss as much as six weeks with a right groin strain.

Hunter will return to Texas for blood-platelet injection, Jeff Wilson of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Hunter left Thursday's game against Cincinnati in the third inning with the groin injury.

Even with Hunter out, the Rangers won't change their plans for Feliz to anchor the bullpen. Instead, Michael Kirkman and Dave Bush are the candidates to replace Hunter.

Kirkman, 24, has made one start this spring and appeared in four games, going 0-1 with a 5.56 ERA in 11 1/3 innings. He's struck out nine and walked three, while allowing 13 runs (seven earned) on 15 hits.

Bush, like Kirkman, has started one game and appeared in four this spring. Bush has struck out six and walked four in 13 innings. He's given up 13 hits and eight runs (seven earned). The 31-year-old Bush was 8-13 with a 4.54 ERA for the Brewers last season in 31 starts.

Bush singed a minor-league contract and has an out in his contract if he's not on the team's 40-man roster by Sunday. That could be enough to give him the edge over Kirkman for the final spot in the Rangers' rotation.

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Posted on: March 24, 2011 5:26 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2011 5:32 pm

Hunter strains groin, possible rotation shake up

By Matt Snyder

Just a few hours after the Rangers officially named their starting rotation -- and announced Neftali Feliz will remain the team's closer -- Tommy Hunter strained his right groin. (Evan Grant via Twitter )

Considering how a groin factors into a pitcher's delivery, a trip to the disabled list is a near-certainty.

That means that the Rangers are right back where they were at the beginning of the day -- without a full rotation.

The most likely candidate to take the vacated spot is Michael Kirkman. The 24-year-old prospect was the PCL (Triple-A) pitcher of the year in 2010, as he went 13-3 with a 3.09 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 131 innings. After getting the call to join the big club in late August, Kirkman became a weapon out of the bullpen for the eventual AL champs, finishing with a 1.65 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 16 1/3 innings. He struck out 16, but the 10 walks were a bit troubling. He has struggled a bit this spring, but the coaching staff has still raved about him in interviews.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com