SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers' 14th game of the season is against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Under the new alignment with 15 teams in each league, this will be the earliest the Rangers have played an Interleague game on the road.
So the Rangers have to get their pitchers ready to hit, but right now manager Ron Washington only has them working on bunting with third-base coach Gary Pettis. He does not want them swinging the bat early in Spring Training.
"We'll figure out something before we leave here, but I don't want them up there swinging like they're Babe Ruth," Washington said. "They need to get ready to pitch, not to hit. I'm not going to let a pitcher get hurt swinging the bat."
He also doesn't want them getting hurt running the bases. Alexi Ogando missed five weeks last season with a strained right groin muscle last season that occurred while he was beating out a bunt against the Giants in San Francisco.
"All I want my pitchers to do is be able to bunt the ball," Washington said. "If good things happen and they get on base, I want them going base to base. I don't want anybody going from first to third, sliding in and then dusting off their uniform for the camera."
Rangers stick by fans after Hamilton's comments
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Josh Hamilton caused a minor stir when he gave an interview to a Dallas television station and said that the Dallas-Fort Worth area is not a "true" baseball town.
Hamilton told KTVT Channel 11 that, "It's one of those things where Texas, especially Dallas, has always been a football town. So the good with the bad is they're supportive, but they also got a little spoiled, at the same time, pretty quickly. You can understand like a really true, true baseball town -- and there are true baseball fans in Texas -- but it's not a true baseball town."
Hamilton elaborated on his comments to Angels reporters after Monday's workout.
"I told them on camera -- I said there's true baseball fans and then there's others that's not," Hamilton said. "I said the ones that are true baseball fans won't boo when I come back, and the ones that are not, will. It's just like last year, when I got booed after going 2-for-4 in a game, driving in a couple runs, and I struck out the other two times. You understand the Yankees, Boston, Cubs, Phillies -- baseball towns. If they were doing that, that's one thing.
"It's not saying I don't still appreciate them, and thank you for cheering for me and all that. But reality's reality. I think I've always spoken the truth in what I said and not beat around the bush. But I loved my time there."
The Rangers, when informed of Hamilton's comments, did not get too worked up over what he said.
"There were 3.5 million fans that came through the turnstiles," manager Ron Washington said. "That answers it right there, but I have no comment on Josh's comment."
"We've had an absolutely electric environment to where I think visiting teams coming to play us in Arlington probably view it as hostile a place as there is in baseball, and that definitely plays to our advantage," outfielder David Murphy said. "I definitely love the way that the fans have come out and supported us. The last few summers have been extremely hot. It's going to be tough for me to come watch a baseball game when it's 110 degrees out or 105 degrees out. I really appreciate the way they've supported us, especially through all the heat."
The Rangers play the Angels in their home opener on April 5 at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Tepesch gets early look as starter
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers play their two intrasquad games at noon MT on Tuesday and Wednesday on the Nolan Ryan Field. Three of the four starting pitchers will be in the Rangers' rotation: Yu Darvish and Alexi Ogando on Tuesday and Matt Harrison on Wednesday. The fourth starter will be rookie right-hander Nick Tepesch.
Tepesch was a 14th-round Draft pick from the University of Missouri in 2010, who is coming quickly through the Rangers' system and earned a non-roster invite to Spring Training. He started last season at Class A Myrtle Beach and went 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 12 starts. He was then promoted to Double-A Frisco and went 6-3 with a 4.28 ERA in 16 games.
"I heard that it was a big jump to Double-A from high-A, but I felt if I took control of what I needed to do, it would work out," Tepesch said. "It was definitely a good year for me. I felt like the command of my pitches got a lot better. I just need to keep refining my delivery and become more consistent."
Tepesch is a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation, but is obviously a long-shot given his lack of experience. But nobody gave Robbie Ross a chance to make the team last season.
"Everybody knows what he did, but I'm not comparing myself to anybody," Tepesch said. "I'm going to do what I can do and whatever happens, happens."
• Derek Holland is scheduled to start against the Royals in the first Cactus League game on Friday.
• Manager Ron Washington on Jurickson Profar's decision not to play in the World Baseball Classic: "That's a decision the young man made on his very own. I'm proud of him. He made a big decision at a young age. He felt it was best to stay here and I back him. I know it was a very hard and a very difficult decision. I'm proud of the decision he made. It was all about what he wanted to do and he wanted to stay here."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.