Angels 13, Rangers 9: My Top 10 Spring Training Observations

10. So far, so good Josh Hamilton. Didn't exactly crush the ball, but had two singles in yesterday's debut. If he returns to 2008 form, the Rangers can will win the American League West.

9. Team president Nolan Ryan, by the way, predicts 92 wins for this team and says he will be "disappointed" if the Rangers don't win their first division title since 1999. Self-inflcited pressure or not, I love the heightened bar.

8. I swear I saw two Angels fans carrying rally monkeys around Surprise Stadium. L.A. didn't exactly need a comeback, what with smacking 19 hits off Texas pitchers.

7. You're going to love the way Julio Borbon tracks down balls in center field. Smooth. Gliding. Effortless. I want to see more of his arm, but no doubt the kid will turn a handful of doubles into outs.

6. Every time I watch catcher Taylor Teagarden I come away unimpressed. Three consecutive strikeouts to start the spring will do that.

5. Texas travels to Phoenix this afternoon to play the A's. It's the debut of pitcher Rich Harden. Me? I'm just happy to not to have to type "ace Kevin Millwood" anymore. Against the Angels we saw the first offering of Brandon McCarthy's tweaked mechanics and attempt to be a ground-ball pitcher. The result? He walked the lead-off hitter and surrendered a smattering of ground-ball singles. Meh.

4. Still have hope for pitcher Derek Holland, even after an inconsistent year in which he finished with an ERA that sounds more like an interstate. But right now I hear he's on the outside of the rotation looking in, and his first outing didn't help matters. He overthrew his fastball, resulting in wildness. When he commands his pitches he can be nasty. When he doesn't ... 

3. Curious about Colby Lewis. After being rushed to the majors with Texas he fled to Japan and is now back and apparently in the starting rotation. Against the Angels he allowed a mammoth homer to center by Mike Napoli, but for the most part kept hitters off-balance. Impressive first outing.

2. A little troubling to see that Tom Hicks still has three parking spots at the Rangers' facility. More alarming is that consultant John Hart has one as well. According to team officials, new owner Chuck Greenberg - hoping for formal approval by April 6's Opening Day - may make a stop out here this week but for the most part will keep a low profile until officially being handed the reins.

1. Best sign of the day came from Vladimir Guerrero. The former AL MVP took massive cuts at everything he saw, but also made good on his promise to show up lighter and stronger this season. He drilled the first pitch for a long, line-drive out to the right-field wall in the first inning and then placed a bloop single. Most promising was watching him score from first on Ian Kinsler's double to left field. Though 35, he can still be a special player. Kinda cool that upon his first at-bat he received a standing ovation from both Angels and Rangers fans.


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