C’mon, you had to see this coming. The Rangers announced yesterday that they will begin selling Russell Wilson merchandise to coincide with his upcoming appearance at Rangers camp:
Replica home white jerseys and red and royal t-shirts with “Wilson” and “3” on the back will be available at the Surprise Stadium merchandise stores beginning on Sunday, when the Rangers host the Chicago White Sox at 1:05 p.m. MT.
Replica home white jerseys, royal and “Seahawk Green” t-shirts with “Wilson” and “3” on the back will also go on sale this Sunday at the Texas Rangers Team Shops at Globe Life Park in Arlington (open Sunday from 12 noon-5:00 p.m. CT) and Fort Worth (open Sunday 12 noon-6:00 p.m. CT). The merchandise will also be available at the Rangers Team Shop in Dallas, which is closed Sunday but opens on Monday at 10:00 a.m. CT.
Wilson is expected to participate in drills and sit in the dugout for Monday’s Cactus League game against the Indians, but Rangers manager Ron Washington told reporters earlier this week that there’s “no way” he’ll be used in the game. The Rangers mostly hope that the Superbowl winning quarterback can pass along some words of wisdom to the team’s players while making them a little bit of money too. Hey, the Rangers paid a $12,000 fee to take him from the Rockies in December’s Rule 5 Draft, so can’t blame them.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.