WBC '17 could prep Claudio for Rangers role

Lefty reliever likely to handle late innings for Puerto Rico

WBC '17 could prep Claudio for Rangers role

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers need to find a dependable late-inning left-handed reliever, which is one of many reasons why they will be watching the World Baseball Classic closely.

Alex Claudio is going to fill that role for Puerto Rico, and he is already in Arizona working out at the Rangers' Spring Training complex.

"It's great," Claudio said. "It's another dream come true for me."

Claudio worked in long and middle relief for the Rangers last season and did a superb job, going 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA. His role with Puerto Rico will be different. He will likely be used in the seventh and eighth innings, especially against the big left-handed hitters.

That's what the Rangers need with Jake Diekman out until at least the All-Star break while recovering from stomach surgery. The World Baseball Classic could be a small sample, but it will still be worth watching how Claudio handles that role.

"Obviously it's a great experience, but I also want to use it to get better," Claudio said. "Yadier Molina is going to be my catcher. I can learn from guys like that."

Chi Chi kicks the rice

Rangers pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez showed up 10 pounds lighter this Spring Training by following one simple dieting rule.

"I started eating better," Gonzalez said. "Basically I cut out the rice. To us Hispanics, every meal has rice and beans. I had more beans and less rice."

It's a good sign. Gonzalez was 0-2 with an 8.71 ERA in three starts for the Rangers and spent most of the season at Triple-A Round Rock. He knows this is a big spring for him.

"Yeah, last year I was depending on my stuff," Gonzalez said. "This year I want to be better every way I can ... conditioning, throwing, my arm. It can't hurt losing weight. I can always get it back."

Rangers beat

• Pitchers and catchers officially report Tuesday, but some players are already in camp and working out. Sam Dyson and Andrew Faulkner threw in the bullpen on Sunday and Yu Darvish did so the day before. Relievers Tanner Scheppers and Tony Barnette are also here.

• Right-handed starter Tyson Ross is in camp and throwing long toss. He is coming back from surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome in his right shoulder and will be behind everybody else when official workouts begin.

• Catcher Jonathan Lucroy is here in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. He and Dyson are playing for Team USA. Lucroy took batting practice in the indoor cage on Sunday with infielder Will Middlebrooks.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.