Laynce Nix apparently won't be ready to play exhibition games until March 10, which would seem to indicate that his decision not to comply with the team's request that he play winter ball was the right one...if he isn't healthy enough to play at the beginning of spring, he wouldn't have been healthy enough to play winter ball, either. Grant reports that Nix just began hitting again two weeks ago.
On the arbitration front, both Grant and the S-T's O'Brien say that Vicente Padilla is the closest to getting a deal done. Grant says that talks have been re-opened on a multi-year deal with Kevin Mench, while Gary Matthews Jr. is the player most likely to go to arbitration. Which makes sense, of course, given that the Rangers are offering just 2/3rds of what GMJ is asking for.
Finally, Grant reports that Buck Showalter was in San Diego recently and met separately with Phil Nevin, Akinori Otsuka, and Hank Blalock, all of whom live in the San Diego area. We have this interesting comment from Grant:
[P]erhaps the most interesting discussion was with third baseman Hank Blalock. Blalock has had an eventful few months. He had been one of the unhappiest Rangers last year when the season fell apart. He was also nearly traded to Florida for Josh Beckett in November.
Obviously, Mike Young and Mark Teixeira were pretty vocal about their issues with management last summer, but Blalock was more in the background, and didn't participate in the notorious Chiti meeting that was called right after the players publicly called out management in August.
So identifying him as one of the "unhappiest Rangers last year" is a bit surprising...