SARASOTA, Fla. - Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman just arrived together at 12:16 p.m.
Troy Patton isn't allowed to speak with the media regarding his DWI arrest in Houston last month. He politely declined to comment before leaving the clubhouse, but he's clearly embarrassed by the incident.
Patton may not have to leave the team for a court hearing later this month. There's a chance that he'll be able to work around it.
Brad Bergesen was playing catch on one of the back fields with Jeremy Accardo and Mitch Atkins. I'm still in the "Who's that?" mode when watching players from a distance, though I've spoken to Accardo and Atkins this morning.
Accardo compared Buck Showalter to two of his previous managers, Felipe Alou and John Gibbons, who also had reputations for going with the hot hand. Accardo is one of many relievers on this pitching staff with closer experience. He'd like a shot this season, but he's excited for any role that he can fill.
Non-roster invitee Ryan Drese, 34, is hoping to become the spring's top comeback story. He hasn't pitched in the majors since making two starts for the Nationals in 2006, and he underwent two Tommy John surgeries on his right elbow.
The first one, performed by renowned orthopedic specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum in '06, didn't work.
"To be honest, I was probably ready to retire after my first Tommy John because my arm never got better. It never felt good," he said. "I was under the delusion that your arm gets stronger and you start throwing harder, but I guess I fell under the 15 percent where it's unsuccessful. I tried to pitch and I didn't know what was going wrong. Spun the wheels for three years.
"I don't know when it didn't take. I followed the rehab protocol day by day. Just bad luck, I guess. There was no one event where I was throwing and felt a pop. It was just, over time, I have no idea if it ever got better and got worse, or if it never got fixed. I have no idea. It's kind of a mystery to this day. But it's not important. I'm here now and just concentrating on what I can do to try to make the team and help the ballclub."
Dr. Keith Meister, the Rangers' team doctor, performed the second surgery in 2009.
"The surgeon went in there and said, 'You've been throwing with a torn ligament this whole time and a detached tendon, so I don't know how you've been throwing.' I said, 'Not real well,' " Drese recalled.
"It's been hard, but then again, I've had a lot of time to spend with my daughters at home. I have two young daughters and it's been nice getting to know them a lot better than I would if I was on the road all the time. I was with them every day. And at the end of the day, I have my general health and my family's health, and that's what's really important. Baseball is a game we play for fun."
Drese has connections to the Orioles. Showalter was his manager in Texas when he won 14 games and logged 207 2/3 innings in 2004. Mark Connor was the Rangers' bullpen coach.
Connor watched Drese throw a side session before the Orioles signed him to a minor league deal.
"I feel it's a good opportunity. It's an organization going in the right direction," Drese said.
Drese is hoping that Connor will become a regular viewer of his bullpen sessions this year. It beats pitching for the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League, which he did in 2008 and 2009.
"He said he was pleasantly surprised by how well I was throwing," Drese said.
"It's been a lot of hard work and a lot of agony, but at the end of the day, it's just baseball," he added, still reflecting on a long road traveled. "I'm just grateful for the opportunity to come back here and try to earn a spot. That's the way I'm looking at it. At this point in my career and my life, I'm just happy that I'm able to pitch and hopefully make a good comeback. That's what I'm looking forward to."
Jeremy Guthrie and Mark Hendrickson just arrived.