Texas Rangers baseball is back. The team kicked off its spring training schedule last month against the team it shares Surprise Stadium with in Arizona: the Kansas City Royals.
Along with several returning veterans, the 2023 Rangers welcome several new, talented players to the roster this training camp. If you’re longing for a unique experience, why not visit your Rangers in training camp this year? Arizona boasts many attractions to fill your time outside of Cactus League baseball.
One thing you can do in Arizona that you can’t (legally) do in Texas is bet on sports. Texas sports betting rests on legislation working its way through the Texas Legislature. Who knows, maybe it’ll get passed this session. Until then, a trip to Arizona could include a chance to lay down some bets at some of the 18 online sportsbooks available to bettors.
Legendary skipper at the helm in 2023
One new face at Texas Rangers training camp this year is legendary skipper Bruce Bochy. The manager, who won three World Series titles with the San Francisco Giants between 2010 and 2015, was out of baseball for three years before Rangers brass lured him back into uniform. Bochy said he is thrilled at the opportunity to coach again.
“It just feels right,” Bochy told Sports Illustrated. “I’m here doing what I love to do and grateful because of it.”
On top of adding a three-time champion manager, the Rangers also beefed up their player roster. That’s most evident in the pitching staff, which sports Jacob deGrom, Andrew Heaney, Nathan Eovaldi and Jake Odorizzi.
New pitching staff led by two-time Cy Young winner
The most exciting offseason acquisitions were made to the pitching staff.
The Rangers knew they had to improve it. The team ended last season with only Jon Gray under contract as a veteran starting pitcher. The Rangers now have six at spring training.
Those six pitchers are led by the likely No. 1 starter, deGrom. After landing in Texas from the New York Mets, the sole team he has played for since coming into the league, deGrom looks forward to a healthy and successful 2023 campaign with his new team.
DeGrom’s spring training has started slow. He was held out of activities due to tightness in his left side. The two-time Cy Young Award winner started only 11 games last season. He has missed more than 200 days over the last two seasons.
Needless to say, keeping deGrom healthy is one of the top priorities of the team this spring. He threw a low-effort pitching session from the mound just days before the start of the first spring training game, which allowed the team and its fans to breathe a sigh of relief.
Other pitchers to keep an eye on
Several other newly acquired pitchers are worth watching.
Former Boston Red Sox right-hander Eovaldi signed a two-year, $34 million contract and has a promising outlook after starting his spring training season looking sharp. Eovaldi, a 33-year-old World Series champion, has a career ERA of 4.16 over his 11 seasons. That includes his 11-win season with Boston in 2021, when he earned a spot on the AL All-Star team and finished fourth in Cy Young Award voting.
Eovaldi’s played for five other teams throughout his career, but being a native Texan and landing on the Rangers with high expectations and good health may be the best setup for Eovaldi to succeed.
Another well-traveled pitcher in his 30s who the Rangers see real potential in is Andrew Heaney. The southpaw makes his way onto the Rangers’ spring training roster after starting 14 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2022, good for a career-best 3.10 ERA.
The New York Mets’ first-round draft pick from 2022 – pitcher Kumar Rocker – is one to watch out for.
The Rangers know they were lucky to land Rocker, who became available after the Mets refused to pay him following a messy physical in 2021, which ended up with Rocker getting shoulder surgery. He is now healed and ready to go. And likely with something to prove.
Former Royals pitcher Dan Duffy is another one to keep an eye on as a non-roster invitee. He couldn’t pitch last year because of arm trouble but is good to go now.
Texas bats led by Lowe and Garcia
On the offensive side, Rangers fans are hoping to finally get a full season out of top prospect 3B Josh Jung, who missed parts of both of his seasons thus far but still showed bright signs of great play.
Nineteen-year-old Evan Carter is also expected to contribute in a big way at the top of the order, utilizing his hitting and speed.
Texas is probably leaning on 1B Nathaniel Lowe, SS Corey Seager and OF Adolis Garcia the most headed into the 2023 season. All players put up impressive numbers last year. Lowe finished with a batting average above .300 with 27 HRs, 76 RBIs and 74 runs scored. Garcia scored 88 times and had 27 HRs to go with his 101 RBIs and Seager had 33 HRs, 83 RBIs and 91 runs scored.
Things to know about Surprise Stadium
At the stadium, there are various seating sections to choose from, from grass seating areas in the outfield to club seats on the stadium’s second level. They all offer optimal views in the 10,500-seat stadium.
The stadium is also handicap-accessible. The 124-acre facility includes six practice fields, a half field and separate clubhouse and office facilities.
There are a variety of items prohibited in the stadium, including:
- Coolers (of any size)
- Bags larger than 16 inches by 16 inches by 8 inches
- Cans, glass containers and open containers
All bags will be inspected before they are permitted inside. Gates open 90 minutes before each home day game.
Fun things to do around the stadium in Surprise
Take in the Wildlife World Zoo Litchfield Park
With more than 600 separate species and the largest collection of exotic animals in Arizona, the Wildlife World Zoo Litchfield Park is a fun way to explore more of the outdoors in Arizona.
Open 365 days a year, the zoo and its aquarium open at 9 a.m.
Get more information on the zoo’s website.
Visit the Tennis & Racquet Complex
Open from 7:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. each weekday (and until 5 p.m. on Saturdays; noon on Sundays), the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex boasts 25 tennis courts – 17 of which are lit for night play – as well as two full-size indoor racquetball courts and table tennis room.
Reservations should be made in advance at (623) 222-2400. You can also visit the city’s website for more information.
Rustle up some grub
Whether it’s a tasty beer at a brewery, watching a game at a sports bar, live music and drinks, delicious pizza or just a hearty meal, Surprise has what you’re looking for.
Visit one of the many quality establishments in and around Surprise to get the full experience of The Grand Canyon State.
Head off to the Grand Canyon
It’s more than three hours away, but it’s worth it.
The Grand Canyon is one of America’s most beautiful natural attractions, and, if you’re in Arizona for at least a few days, it’ll be well worth your time.
Just make sure you visit the operations website to get all the information you need to make your trip a success:
Sports betting apps to use in Arizona
There are 18 online sportsbooks available in the state in addition to the wagering action available on horse racing, off-track betting, the 20-plus casinos across the state and the Arizona Lottery.
- DraftKings: The top-rated Arizona gambling app is offering a series of promotions and bonuses for new users.
- FanDuel: The online sportsbook offers a bonus first bet of up to $1,000 and all kinds of exotics and prop plays to keep you entertained regardless of the sport being played.
- BetMGM: The sportsbook is offering $1,000 paid back in bonus bets and live streaming of games in the app.
- Caesars: Offering some of the highest rewards in the state, Caesars has a bunch of reward credits for wagering as well as bet credits and hotel stays.
- BetRivers: The sportsbook offers a $500 bonus second-chance bet if your first one doesn’t work out.
When the Rangers ultimately open the MLB regular season at Globe Life Field in Arlington on March 30, they’ll face last year’s World Series runner-up, the Philadelphia Phillies. So, they’ll be tested out of the gate.