Notes: Deal for Byrd not looking likely
Discussions with Cubs over possible trade at an impasse
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Chicago Cubs have not given up hope of acquiring outfielder Marlon Byrd but the Rangers aren't giving them much hope that a deal can be done.The two sides had discussions late in the offseason and they have continued into Spring Training, according to Major League officials. The Cubs are looking for a right-handed hitting center fielder to go with left-handed hitting Felix Pie or Sam Fuld. Kosuke Fukudome, their right-fielder, is also left-handed. The Cubs are willing to part with outfielder Matt Murton but the Rangers aren't interested in a 1-on-1 deal. They believe Byrd has the edge in defense, versatility and clubhouse leadership. The Rangers are insistent that any deal would have to include good young pitching and the Cubs aren't willing to do that. If the Rangers did deal Byrd, it could open up a spot for David Murphy in left field and Kevin Mench on the bench. So far both sides refuse to budge. If the Rangers do make a deal this spring, it might involve some of their extra relief pitching. Both Robinson Tejeda and John Rheinecker are out of options. Millwood sees results: The Rangers haven't been in camp for a full week yet but Opening Day pitcher Kevin Millwood is already seeing the results of his offseason conditioning program. "I know I'm definitely stronger and in a lot better shape," Millwood said. "Not that anything here is easy but it takes less effort. We're probably doing more on the field and it just seems like it's a lot easier. It's not as taxing." Kick-boxing is the answer. Millwood took that up in the offseason as part of his conditioning program and said it has made a "huge" difference over last spring when he wasn't at peak performance. "Obviously I didn't do enough," Millwood admitted. "I worked out and did things but I didn't do enough. I feel a lot stronger and in a lot better shape."
Washington raves on Botts: Manager Ron Washington continues to be thrilled with what he is seeing from Jason Botts at first base."I like the effort he's putting in there and I like the progress he's making," Washington said. "He threw to second today (on the double play) and he had it there on time and threw the ball where it was supposed to be according to where he caught it." Botts has played just 18 games at first base over the past three years since playing regularly there in 2004. He said he feels much more comfortable there so far. "The back is no longer a bit of a factor," Botts said. "But in working with Washington, approaching balls and getting in the right position is making as much of a difference as anything." Being able to play both the outfield and first base could help make the team. But it's not the only criterion. "He's got to hit," Washington said. "He's got to swing the bat." Blalock throws: Third baseman Hank Blalock has resumed his throwing program during the Rangers' fielding drills. Blalock has been in camp since Friday and taking his ground balls, but Monday was the first day that he actually made throws from third-to-first.
"I don't expect any problems," Blalock said. "I feel like a complete player again. I'm just glad to be able to get back out on to the field with my teammates and have fun."
Connor takes trip to Holland: Pitching coach Mark Connor wandered down to the Minor League camp and watched left-hander Derek Holland throw. He was a 25th-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Wallace State (Ala.) College who was a draft-and-follow signing."I saw him throw in instructional league and I saw him throw today and he's a good-looking kid," Connor said. "The ball comes out of his hand nicely and he has good command." No thanks, Yanks: Outfielder Brandon Boggs and infielder Chris Davis both have one thing in common. They were both drafted in the 50th round by the New York Yankees out of high school. Boggs was taken in 2001 and Davis taken in 2004. Boggs ended up going to Georgia Tech for three years. Davis went to the University of Texas, then transferred to Navarro Junior College. He was also drafted by the Angels the following season as a draft-and-follow but didn't sign. One year later he was a fifth round pick by the Rangers. "It worked out pretty good," Davis said. "I've been a Rangers fan since I was three years old." He said it: "I'm still competing. I had a pretty good year last year but I don't think I've earned anything. I still have to pitch and compete for that fifth spot." -- Rangers pitcher Kason Gabbard Briefly: Outfielders Nelson Cruz, Frank Catalanotto and Julio Borbon and infielder Elvis Andrus joined the workouts Monday. Only three players aren't in camp yet: first baseman Chris Shelton, outfielder Milton Bradley and infielder Edgardo Alfonzo. ... Bradley, coming off knee surgery, has been working with a physical therapist in Southern California and wanted to continue that right up to the time he is supposed to report to training camp. The first full-squad workout is Wednesday. ... Connor on Monday's throwing sessions in the bullpen: "Kameron Loe threw the ball well today. Everybody is turning it up a little more each day. C.J. Wilson threw the ball. He's fun to watch." ... One thing the Rangers don't have to worry about is having any players who have to explain why they were in the Mitchell Report. Said Washington, "I'm happy that's not happening here. It's hard to deal with but it's reality. You deal with it and move on."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.