Without Greene, Rangers should trust German

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When the Rangers moved Michael Young from shortstop to third base after his Gold Glove campaign in 2008, it was clear there was no going back. The Rangers knew Elvis Andrus had more range and they wanted Young to be able to settle into his new position, so they signed Omar Vizquel to serve as a backup and a mentor. Sure, they could have helped themselves offensively if they were willing to use Young as a backup shortstop, but that wouldn’t have been the right way to play it last year.
Perhaps it is now. Andrus showed last year that he’s ready to be an everyday player, and Young settled in nicely at third, playing every one of his 1166 innings in the field at the position. The Rangers wanted to go with a similar arrangement this year, even though Vizquel had little interest in staying, but the Khalil Greene experiment never even got off the ground. Now the Rangers are stuck in a situation in which there are no quality utilitymen available in free agency and no solid backup shortstops on the roster. They can go with the oft-injured Joaquin Arias, but shoulder problems have turned him into an iffy proposition on the left side of the infield. The light-hitting Ray Olmedo is also in camp. But the Rangers’ best utility option is clearly Esteban German, even if he’s played all of 36 innings at shortstops in part of eight major league seasons.
So, the Rangers should again ask Michael Young to think of the team. Young was more than a little hesitant to move to third last year — understandably so, especially in light of the Gold Glove — and he probably prefer not to have to worry about shifting between positions at this point in his career. But if Andrus goes down for any length of time, the Rangers would clearly be better off with Young at short and German at third than Young at third and Arias/Olmedo at short. German is a career .278/.358/.383 hitter, and he can handle both second and third. He’s also good enough to serve as a DH against lefties if Vladimir Guerrero gets hurt.
Of course, the whole point might be moot at the end of the spring. There will undoubtedly be a couple of veteran utilityman available for next to nothing, and the Rangers may well grab one of them if they don’t like what they see from Arias next month.

Gaylord Perry, two-time Cy Young winner, dies at 84

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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GAFFNEY, S.C. — Baseball Hall of Famer and two-time Cy Young Award winner Gaylord Perry, a master of the spitball who wrote a book about using the pitch died at 84.

Perry died at his home in Gaffney of natural causes, Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler said. He did not provide additional details.

“Gaylord Perry was a consistent workhorse and a memorable figure in his Hall of Fame career,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, adding, “he will be remembered among the most accomplished San Francisco Giants ever … and remained a popular teammate and friend throughout his life.”

The native of Williamston, North Carolina, made history as the first player to win the Cy Young in both leagues, with Cleveland in 1972 and San Diego in 1978 just after turning 40.

Perry went 24-16 in his debut season with Cleveland after 10 years with the San Francisco Giants. He was 21-6 in his first season with the Padres in 1978 for his fifth and final 20-win season.

“Before I won my second Cy Young I thought I was too old – I didn’t think the writers would vote for me,” Perry said in an article on the National Baseball Hall of Fame website. “But they voted on my performance, so I won it.”

Perry, who pitched for eight major-league teams from 1962 until 1983, was a five-time All-Star who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991. He had a career record of 314-255, finished with 3,554 strikeouts and used a pitching style where he doctored baseballs or made batters believe he was doctoring them.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame said in a statement that Perry was “one of the greatest pitchers of his generation.” The Texas Rangers, whom Perry played for twice, said in a statement that the pitcher was “a fierce competitor every time he took the ball and more often than not gave the Rangers an opportunity to win the game.”

“The Rangers express their sincere condolences to Gaylord’s family at this difficult time,” the team’s statement said. “This baseball great will be missed.”

Perry’s 1974 autobiography was titled “Me and the Spitter,” and he wrote it in that when he started in 1962 he was the “11th man on an 11-man pitching staff” for the Giants. He needed an edge and learned the spitball from San Francisco teammate Bob Shaw.

Perry said he first threw it in May 1964 against the New York Mets, pitched 10 innings without giving up a run and soon after entered the Giants’ starting rotation.

He also wrote in the book that he chewed slippery elm bark to build up his saliva, and eventually stopped throwing the pitch in 1968 after MLB ruled pitchers could no longer touch their fingers to their mouths before touching the baseball.

According to his book, he looked for other substances, like petroleum jelly, to doctor the baseball. He used various motions and routines to touch different parts of his jersey and body to get hitters thinking he was applying a foreign substance.

Perry was ejected from a game just once for doctoring a baseball – when he was with Seattle in August 1982. In his final season with Kansas City, Perry and teammate Leon Roberts tried to hide George Brett’s infamous pine-tar bat in the clubhouse but was stopped by a guard. Perry was ejected for his role in that game, too.

After his career, Perry founded the baseball program at Limestone College in Gaffney and was its coach for the first three years.

The Hall of Fame’s statement noted that Perry often returned for induction weekend “to be with his friends and fans.”

“We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Deborah, and the entire Perry family,” Baseball Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark said.