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Rangers down to 1 roster spot after claiming Rule 5 pitcher

March 26, 2019
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Texas Rangers Franklin Rollin, left, is congratulated by first base coach Hector Ortiz after an RBI single in the ninth inning of an exhibition baseball game against the Cleveland Indians in Arlington,Texas, Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — With slugger Joey Gallo healthy, the Texas Rangers plan to start the season with eight pitchers in the bullpen and a shortened bench for new manager Chris Woodward.

They just have to decide who will be that eighth reliever.

Texas claimed right-hander Kyle Dowdy on waivers from the New York Mets on Tuesday, and the Rule 5 draft pick will have to stay on the big league roster. That leaves right-handers Connor Sadzeck and Adrian Sampson and lefty Kyle Bird the likely contenders for the Rangers final roster spot.

“They all bring something unique to the table. There’s good reasons to keep each,” general manager Jon Daniels said after the Rangers beat Cleveland 5-4 in the final spring training game for both teams. “We’ve just got to talk through it some more. Most likely it will be one of those guys.”

Sadzeck, who is out of roster options, is the only one who pitched Tuesday. He struck out two in his only inning.

Cleveland starter Mike Clevinger allowed four runs (two earned) in three innings. He walked two, struck out five and gave up a three-run homer to Nomar Mazara, his first homer of the spring.

“I don’t know if because he was in a stadium, it looked like he was a little over-amped, but the ball’s coming out great,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Early on, he wasn’t commanding his breaking ball (but) as he got into it, he started to do that better. I think he’s situated to have a good, solid year.”

Rangers lefty newcomer Drew Smyly, who missed the last two seasons after Tommy John surgery, allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked three.

The 26-year-old Dowdy was 9-12 with a 5.15 ERA last season split between Double-A and Triple-A.

Texas feels comfortable going with eight relievers since Gallo, coming off consecutive 40-homer seasons, played the past two games without any issues after dealing with a strained right groin during spring training.

FINAL OUTCOME

The Rangers took advantage of an experimental rule designed to limit extended extra-inning games.

Franklin Rollin singled home Zack Granite, who had been placed on second base to start the bottom of the ninth inning as part of a rule change implemented in spring training games this season. Granite stole third base and jogged home on Rollin’s liner to left.

The rule was used in the minor leagues last season beginning in the 10th inning, and it will also apply to this year’s All-Star Game. During spring training, the automatic baserunner was put in play beginning with the ninth inning, so long as both teams agreed. The rule will not be used during the regular season.

Rangers closer Jose Leclerc retired three batters on fly balls, stranding the runner placed on second, when pitching the top of the ninth.

ROSTER MOVES

Daniels said the Rangers would option Granite to Triple-A Nashville and release veteran outfielder Ben Revere. Texas still has to purchase the contracts of outfielder Hunter Pence, utility infielder Logan Forsythe and right-hander Jeanmar Gomez.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Indians: Francona said 3B Jose Ramirez (left knee contusion) will meet the team in Minnesota on Wednesday appears set to be in the opening day lineup after working out in Arizona. He fouled a pitch off his knee in a game Sunday. ... SS Francisco Lindor (strained right calf) had a home run and four RBIs in a minor league spring training game Monday. He also played eight innings in the field.

UP NEXT

Indians: Play at Minnesota on Thursday. RHP Corey Kluber (20-7, 2.89 in 2018) will be the first Cleveland pitcher to make five straight opening day starts since Hall of Famer Stan Coveleski in 1921.

Rangers: Host the Cubs in the season opener on Thursday. LHP Mike Minor (12-8, 4.18) starts for Texas.

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