A healthy Vlad Guerrero could be scary for AL

Three things I learned at Rangers camp:

Don’t underestimate the pride of a warrior

At 35, Vlad Guerrero is looking to prove detractors wrong.
At 35, Vlad Guerrero is looking to prove detractors wrong.

Vlad Guerrero says he is healthy. He looks leaner in his upper body. He is actually running, not limping. In other words, watch out for Vlad Guerrero.

"Our doctor who did his physical said, based on what he saw as a fan last year, thought it was going to be worse. He said the physical was pretty clean," said Rangers GM Jon Daniels, adding that means clean for a 35-year-old who has undergone surgery on both knees.

Guerrero was limited to 100 games last season because of a torn pectoral muscle and a torn hamstring behind his left knee. That followed off-season cleanup surgeries on both knees.

"With the injuries that he had, your bat would slow down, too," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He’s healthy right now and I don’t see anything wrong with his bat speed. He says he feels good and that’s good enough for me."

And Guerrero definitely has something to prove, to the Angels and all the other teams that did not offer him more than a one-year, $5.5 million deal that he settled for with the Rangers.

Don’t discount the loss of late-night dining

If Matt Harrison doesn’t make the Rangers’ rotation, it won’t be because he’s out of shape. After checking in at about 265 pounds before last season, he has lost 30 pounds and says he feels "100 times better." No more shin splints, no more back pain. "I have more endurance. I can run 15-20 sprints and I’m still good to go," he said. "No more huffing and puffing."

And get this, would-be dieters: Harrison dropped the pounds without changing what he eats. The secret: He eliminated post-game dinners.

"Oh man, it was hard," he said. "I went to bed starving. It took about a month to get used to it. Then I lost a little weight and I was able to run more, and that helped me lose some more."

Don’t think the Rangers don’t know Harden’s history

Talking to numerous Rangers, they all said newcomer Rich Harden is one of the game’s best starters "if he’s healthy." Ten days after pitchers and catchers reported, Harden is healthy. The Rangers will take steps to keep him that way. Harden already has been tabbed to start the opener, and not only because he’s projected to be the team’s ace. The way the three off-days in April are set up, Harden will be able to make his first three starts on five days rest.

Unlike some teams, the Rangers will stay on a five-man rotation partly to allow Harden an extra day but also because the difference in their No. 2 and whoever ends up their No. 5 is not as great as it is for a team like the Mariners, who have Cliff Lee as their No. 2.

Stan McNeal is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at smcneal@sportingnews.com.

Three things I learned at Rangers camp:

Don’t underestimate the pride of a warrior

At 35, Vlad Guerrero is looking to prove detractors wrong.
At 35, Vlad Guerrero is looking to prove detractors wrong.

Vlad Guerrero says he is healthy. He looks leaner in his upper body. He is actually running, not limping. In other words, watch out for Vlad Guerrero.

"Our doctor who did his physical said, based on what he saw as a fan last year, thought it was going to be worse. He said the physical was pretty clean," said Rangers GM Jon Daniels, adding that means clean for a 35-year-old who has undergone surgery on both knees.

Guerrero was limited to 100 games last season because of a torn pectoral muscle and a torn hamstring behind his left knee. That followed off-season cleanup surgeries on both knees.

"With the injuries that he had, your bat would slow down, too," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He’s healthy right now and I don’t see anything wrong with his bat speed. He says he feels good and that’s good enough for me."

And Guerrero definitely has something to prove, to the Angels and all the other teams that did not offer him more than a one-year, $5.5 million deal that he settled for with the Rangers.

Don’t discount the loss of late-night dining

If Matt Harrison doesn’t make the Rangers’ rotation, it won’t be because he’s out of shape. After checking in at about 265 pounds before last season, he has lost 30 pounds and says he feels "100 times better." No more shin splints, no more back pain. "I have more endurance. I can run 15-20 sprints and I’m still good to go," he said. "No more huffing and puffing."

And get this, would-be dieters: Harrison dropped the pounds without changing what he eats. The secret: He eliminated post-game dinners.

"Oh man, it was hard," he said. "I went to bed starving. It took about a month to get used to it. Then I lost a little weight and I was able to run more, and that helped me lose some more."

Don’t think the Rangers don’t know Harden’s history

Talking to numerous Rangers, they all said newcomer Rich Harden is one of the game’s best starters "if he’s healthy." Ten days after pitchers and catchers reported, Harden is healthy. The Rangers will take steps to keep him that way. Harden already has been tabbed to start the opener, and not only because he’s projected to be the team’s ace. The way the three off-days in April are set up, Harden will be able to make his first three starts on five days rest.

Unlike some teams, the Rangers will stay on a five-man rotation partly to allow Harden an extra day but also because the difference in their No. 2 and whoever ends up their No. 5 is not as great as it is for a team like the Mariners, who have Cliff Lee as their No. 2.

Stan McNeal is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at smcneal@sportingnews.com.

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