Rangers beat reporter T.R. Sullivan hosted a live web chat with fans on Thursday. Among the topics he covered were Josh Hamilton's future status with the club, the questions surrounding the center field position and the additions of Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz to the starting rotation.
TR_Sullivan: We'll be underway in just a couple of minutes here. Keep sending in your questions for Rangers beat reporter TR Sullivan.
TR_Sullivan: Thanks for your patience while we worked out some technical difficulties. Let's get started.
DKCzech: What is the biggest question surrounding the Rangers entering 2012?
TR_Sullivan: How Neftali Feliz and Yu Darvish hold up in the rotation, that would be No. 1 on the field. Plus Joe Nathan in the bullpen. They are all connected.
slippy24: I know that Neftali came out of the game the other day because of the shoulder stiffness. But how has Neftali looked overall this spring in your opinion?
TR_Sullivan: If Feliz is healthy, I think he'll start the season off slow as he continues to develop the curve and change but as the season goes along he will get better. I see him doing better in the second half than the first half, but durability is still something to watch closely
rangersdoc: Is Julio Borbon in line for the opening day start in center field?
TR_Sullivan: I think he is the leader right now, but I think the Rangers may end up taking both Craig Gentry and Borbon to start the season. I think they may end up sharing center field.
jmoncrief: What is the status of Hamilton's contract talks?
TR_Sullivan: There has been little or no progress the last time I checked. The Rangers are more leery about Hamilton's physical health and staying off the disabled list. I think Hamilton's representatives are looking at a longer term contract for significant dollars.
slippy24: If the Rangers were to trade for a center fielder so Josh can play left field every day, who might be a good target the Rangers could be looking at?
TR_Sullivan: When you see the Giants and the Mets swapping Angel Pagan and Andres Torres, you know that center field is thin. The Rangers best bet is to run with Borbon and Gentry until Leonys Martin is ready. Borbon is as talented as anybody and Gentry is as good defensively as anybody. But Gentry has to start getting hot here in Spring Training or he may end up beginning the season in Triple-A.
slippy24: Piggy backing off of jmoncrief's question, does anybody else have a chance at getting an extension besides Hamilton before the season starts?
TR_Sullivan: They have talked to Kinsler's agents, he might be somebody. My guess is Hamilton and Napoli are headed for free agency, though.
CDOGGY: Michael Kirkman's numbers remain terrible again this spring. What are the chances that either Robert Ross or Ben Snyder steal the left-handed reliever job away from him out of spring training?
TR_Sullivan: Kirkman threw two scoreless innings against the Cubs the other day. There are a lot of left-handed candidates. Kirkman has the best shot if he can harness his command and throw quality strikes. Ben Snyder has pitched great this spring but remains a long shot. If not Kirkman, it seems Joe Beimel or Mitch Stetter would be next in line. I Still think Kirkman will win the job. But Ross has a real chance to make this team by the way.
slippy24: Will we see Martin Perez in the rotation at any point this season besides if an injury happens? TR_Sullivan: It would take an injury. The rotation is set with Lewis, Harrison, Holland, Darvish and Feliz. If there is an injury early, Ogando or Feldman would step in. Later in the season it would all depend on who is pitching the best at Triple-A. That's where Perez will be, there is no room in the rotation right now. Maybe next year if Lewis leaves as a free agent.
longhornsr: What is your take on CJ "pranking" Nap? It doesn't seem like they were great friends before it and it hasn't made them any closer.
TR_Sullivan: No clue why CJ would do that, it was stupid. All it did was force Napoli to switch phone numbers and all that entails. CJ always went his own way in the Rangers clubhouse. He was always respected for his work ethic and ability to pitch but he can do some strange things and this was it. He was great for the Rangers, they went to two World Series because of him but that wasn't his smartest move.
GoatHammer: Why not let Hamilton play CF this year since we think he is going to free agency? If he plays 150 games there it only helps the Rangers and Hamilton, Murphy in LF and Cruz in RF.
TR_Sullivan: First of all, Hamilton is going to play left and center this year. Secondly, Murphy will get his at-bats. Third, injuries will dictate who plays where more than anything else. All this agonizing over where Hamilton plays is just the usual tedious Spring Training speculation. He will play both and injuries will dictate much.
bjcol1: You mentioned earlier that one question mark is how Darvish holds up in the rotation. Did you mean that from a health perspective, or his ability to deal with Major League batters?
TR_Sullivan: Just in general. Facing Major League hitters, the increased workload, the Texas heat, all these things will be new to him. My guess is he will be fine but nobody really knows until the season starts. Physically he should be fine.
rangersdoc: How is Greg Maddux fitting in with the clubhouse?
TR_Sullivan: Quietly. He does a lot of one-on-one work with pitchers. He likes working behind the scenes. The pitchers love having him around -- he has a profound knowledge of pitching and defense. He is very low-key, just the way he was as a pitcher, but he has been a great addition.
slippy24: Where do you see Mike Olt Starting out this season and will we see him this season if Mitch [Moreland] struggles during the season?
TR_Sullivan: His next stop should be Double-A but after having that big season in the Arizona Fall League, he might begin at Triple-A. If Mitch struggles, I think you'll see Michael Young at first and Murphy at DH. Olt still needs more work and development but he could come quickly.
slippy24: I know Michael is pretty much the backup at 1st, 2nd and 3rd, but what about shortstop? And will either Conner Jackson or Brad Hawpe make this team?
TR_Sullivan: They want a utility infielder. Alberto Gonzalez and Luis Hernandez are the two they are looking at hard. Jackson has not had a good spring and Hawpe has been hurt. He is playing today at DH, but it just depends if they want an extra center fielder or either Hawpe/Jackson off the bench.
GoatHammer: Watching Darvish pitch from the windup it seemed to help him keep his fastball down. With that said, are they encouraging him to pitch from the windup or just allowing him to become comfortable any way he can?
TR_Sullivan: Obviously they want him to be comfortable. You pitch from the windup because it helps generate momentum and ultimately power into your pitches. Theoretically, the stretch means less power but possibly more command, so if you can command from the windup, that makes you a better pitcher.
slippy24: Justin Miller is a good right-handed reliever in the system right now. How long before we see him in the Majors?
TR_Sullivan: Justin Miller could end up being one of those relievers that bounce back and forth from Triple-A based on need. They have done that in the past with Feldman and Pedro Strop. You need guys like that in case of injury or an overworked bullpen -- Miller, Cody Eppley, guys like that. So there is a good chance you'll see Miller this year if he continues to pitch well.
jmoncrief: During the season, say during a 3-game series at home, what does a typical workday for a major leaguer consist of, game included?
TR_Sullivan: They usually stretch around 4:30 and batting practice lasts an hour, then they have the game. The pitchers who need side throwing sessions do so in the bullpen during batting practice. Fielders also do their defensive work during BP. Players also do conditioning on their own.
TR_Sullivan: I'll take a couple more, so if you have any last-minute questions send them along. Questions have been great so far.
slippy24: I know this is a sacrilegious question to ask, but would the Rangers consider trading Hamilton this season if they know his asking price is too high?
TR_Sullivan: If they fell out of the race they certainly would consider it, no doubt about it. But if they are in contention, that would be highly unlikely.
DKCzech: Over/under 95 wins for the Rangers?
TR_Sullivan: Under, but they will win the division.
TR_Sullivan: I think that's it for now, but you can always send questions to my inbox at TR.Sullivan@mlb.com. Thanks again for all the great questions!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.