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Hard-Throwing Connor Sadzeck Eyes Bullpen Job



The Rangers thought highly enough of righthander Connor Sadzeck's in 2015 that they added him to the 40-man roster rather than risk losing him to the Rule 5 draft.

They thought highly enough of his arm in 2017 to consider him an option for their beleaguered bullpen, even though he was a starter at Double-A Frisco. Sadzeck's results weren't good enough to receive a callup, but in the end he improved enough for the Rangers to tell him that he will be a reliever from the day he steps foot in Arizona for his third straight big league camp.

After some initial bumps, the 26-year-old Sadzeck said that he's all-in coming out of the bullpen.

"I struggled a little bit in the transition," said Sadzeck, an 11th-round pick in 2011 out of Howard (Texas) JC. "It was a different mentality. It's a different beast. Maybe being a reliever now is an opportunity for me to break in (to the majors) a different way than maybe I saw before. I hope they see the same as well."

Sadzeck had to dump thoughts of setting up hitters and be confident in going after them with his four-seam fastball, which has been clocked at 100 mph, and his slow curveball and slider.

He used Rangers reliever Keone Kela as a sounding board and listened to his advice. Kela pitches regularly in the mid- to upper 90s and has a devastating slider.

"I called Keone when I was struggling and bounced some ideas off him," Sadzeck said. "He told me from a mentality standpoint that you've got to go out there and know you're good and carry that weight with you and attack hitters."

The Rangers entered 2018 with their bullpen unsettled. They like the idea of having relievers who can cover multiple innings effectively and believe Sadzeck can do that with his starter's background.

He is part of a young group of righthanded relievers that includes Jose Leclerc, Ricky Rodriguez and Nick Gardewine. Each has a chance to pitch meaningful innings in 2018 and possibly win a job in spring training.

"That's my goal," Sadzeck said.

RANGERS ROUNDUP

• The Rangers acquired 22-year-old Carlos Tocci in a trade with the White Sox after Chicago selected him in the Rule 5 draft, and he could have a spot on the Opening Day roster as a defensive specialist in center field. Tocci, whom the Phillies originally signed in 2011, is undersized, but the Rangers like his bat-to-ball skills in addition to his glove work.

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Connor Sadzeck Learns To Escape Trouble

In his first season working exclusively as a reliever, the hard-throwing Sadzeck learned how to escape jams.

• The Rangers sent righthander Sam Wolff to the Giants in their trade for lefthander Matt Moore and showered their 2013 sixth-round pick with praise on his way to San Francisco. "He's a terrific human being," general manager Jon Daniels said. Wolff is recovering from elbow surgery and will likely return to games in July.

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