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MLB Texas Rangers

5 Texas Rangers Storylines to Follow During Spring Training

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5 Texas Rangers Storylines to Follow During Spring Training

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 season for the Texas Rangers ended in disappointment as the team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Although 2013 was not what Rangers fans expected it to be, the team will still be contenders for a World Series title like it has been in recent years. Manager Ron Washington is back for the final year of his contract and his in-game decision making may be the key factor is determining how the 2014 season finishes up for the Rangers.

The Rangers made some big splashes this offseason, choosing not to re-sign Matt Garza or Nelson Cruz and bringing in Shin-Soo Choo with a massive $130 million contract. The Rangers also made a rare winter blockbuster trade, acquiring slugger Prince Fielder in exchange for veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler. Without Kinsler, the Rangers hope that youngster Jurickson Profar is now ready to take over an everyday role in the lineup.

The AL West division will be as tough as ever for the Rangers this year. Although the Houston Astros will likely be one of the worst teams in MLB this year, the Oakland Athletics have made the playoffs the last two seasons and the Los Angeles Angels should get a chance to play up to its potential considering all of the talent they have. The Seattle Mariners also made a big splash in free agency this offseason. Still, the Rangers have been and should continue to be the class of its division.

Without further ado let us look at five important storylines this spring training for the Texas Rangers.

Percy Chao is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @PercyChao, "Like" him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Can Yu Darvish Be Even Better This Year?

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a back injury bothering him for the final two months of the season, Yu Darvish still led the league in strikeouts, finishing with 45 Ks more than Clayton Kershaw -- not to mention that Darvish pitches at a hitter-friendly park at home. Darvish has some of the nastiest stuff in the league, and it should be considered quite unlucky that he only won 13 games last season. Darvish is a bona fide ace and will contend for a Cy Young Award this year.

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4. What Impact Will the Trade for Prince Fielder Have?

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Fielder comes to Texas via trade following a disappointing season in which he only hit 25 home runs. However, the Ballpark in Arlington should favor Fielder's left-handed approach, so he should not be down for long. Fielder's play at first will also allow top prospect Profar to handle the everyday job at second base from now on.

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3. Can Joakim Soria Replace Joe Nathan as Closer?

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Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

With Joe Nathan gone to close for the Detroit Tigers, Joakim Soria will be looking to claim the closer job. While Soria was dominant closing for the first five years of his career, he had to undergo Tommy John surgery in 2012 before returning last season. Hopefully for Soria's sake he has recovered enough to be as effective as he was before.

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2. Can Neftali Feliz Regain His Form?

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Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Neftali Feliz has a similar story to Soria. He will have the chance to replace Nathan as the ninth-inning guy as he was a dominant closer himself before also undergoing Tommy John surgery. Formerly viewed as a starter, Feliz will now focus exclusively on bullpen work, and it remains to be seen whether or not he can regain his previous form.

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1. Can Colby Lewis Win a Roster Spot?

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Colby Lewis also joins the list of Rangers pitchers who need to recover from injuries. Lewis, who hasn't pitched since 2012, has dealt with forearm and hip issues and will compete with Nick Tepesch and Tanner Scheppers for the last spot in the starting rotation. Given his past experience, the Rangers will hope that Lewis can return to the rotation and be effective.