The Texas Rangers took a flier on DFW native Brad Hawpe in the off-season, signing the veteran to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training despite the fact that he was coming off Tommy John surgery in August.
Hawpe, who is a career .276 hitter with 124 home runs and 490 RBIs, had a few pretty big seasons in the launching pad that is Coors Field for the Colorado Rockies. He also made his name as a big-armed outfielder who led the National League in outfield assists in 2006.
The Rangers wanted a guy who could play first base and corner outfield entering the season, and they took the gamble on Hawpe who made the decision to go to Frisco to rehab at the Double-A level, a choice Conor Jackson decided not to make after he was cut from the big-league roster in spring training.
In a visit with ESPN Radio here in DFW, Hawpe talked about his rehab and his increasing comfort level with his arm.
"I was nervous making throws," Hawpe told ESPNDallas about the way he felt about seven or eight months after the surgery. "Late in the game, if we were up by one run or something, I would look at manager (Steve Buechele) and say, 'Hey, you know, if a guy is on third and one out and a fly ball to right, I may not be your guy just yet to be able to throw him out,' because in the past that was my calling card.
"That’s not a question for me anymore."
With Hawpe getting back to health, he could be a nice insurance policy if there are openings at first base or in the corner outfield, most notably right field where Nelson Cruz is guaranteed to make a couple of trips to the disabled list every year.