On Monday, Rangers manager Jeff Banister told reporters he expects to open the season with a four-man bench — ending speculation of a three-man bench to start the season in order to have more arms available in the bullpen.
That seemed to be a good sign for the speedy Drew Stubbs, who made his presence felt in September last year with a huge game-ending catch in the season's final week. He appeared in most of the September games as either a pinch-runner or late-game defensive replacement and seemed to be on track to make the Opening Day roster this year.
Well, not so much.
On Tuesday morning, Rangers communications czar John Blake tweeted that the Rangers had granted Stubbs his release from his minor-league deal. He can now go look for other big-league jobs but could return to the Rangers' organization in the minors if he finds nothing else out there.
That pretty much locks up roster spots for both Justin Ruggiano and Ryan Rua, at least it'd seem that way. The Rangers will obviously carry a backup catcher and a fifth infielder in Hanser Alberto, who was told Tuesday he'd made the team. One thing Ruggiano and Rua have that Stubbs didn't was the ability to play in the infield, but Stubbs could play all three outfielder positions (Ruggiano and Rua can't) at a high level.
The move is a little surprising, but Rua and Ruggiano both provide much more offensive punch than Stubbs, so that must have gone into Jon Daniels' and Banister's thinking.