PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- If this were a normal spring, Doug Melvin would have one of the best views in the state of Florida.
The general manager in his first year with the Texas Rangers after nine years in Baltimore occupies a corner office in the club's executive offices at its spring training complex. He has windows behind him and to his right as he sits at his desk.
The windows look down on the immaculate green turf of Charlotte County Stadium.
In a normal spring, Melvin could glance out and see his baseball team, the one he painstakingly assembled over the winter.
He could see Juan Gonzalez, Will Clark, Dean Palmer and Ivan Rodriguez taking batting practice. He could see Otis Nixon patrolling the outfield. He could see John Burkett, Kevin Gross and Kenny Rogers throwing in the bullpen.
He could watch, and perhaps envision a division champion.
"Obviously, the 40-man roster is what you got hired to do," he said.
But this isn't a normal spring. Because of the ongoing players strike, none of the players on the 40-man roster is in camp.
No one cavorts on the beautiful field outside Melvin's windows.
If Melvin wants to see baseball, he has to leave his office and make the walk across the compound to the minor-league fields. There, he can watch an assortment of would-be replacement players and prospects from the farm system going through the daily drudgery of fundamentals, fielding drills and batting practice.
Instead of working to put the final piece of the puzzle in place or trying to get a couple of holdouts signed, he continues to search for more players who might be willing to cross picket lines. Three more players were signed Wednesday.
This is not what he had in mind when he was hired away from the Orioles last year. This is not what he wanted in his first spring training as a major-league general manager.
"It would be nice if they [the major-leaguers] were here," he said.
Yet, Melvin is trying not to get too frustrated.
"As a GM, you do what's asked of you," he said. "You just know what you have to do and you do the best you can."
What Rangers ownership asked Melvin to do was assemble the best replacement team possible, and he is confident he and his staff have done that. Instead of holding tryout camps, as some teams did, the Rangers used their scouting staff to sign productive players from Mexico, Europe and the Far East as well as minor-league free agents.
"Our guys did a great job," he said. "[Director of scouting] Omar Minaya and [assistant GM] Sandy Johnson. I think it's gone real well."
But not as well, obviously, as if the "real" players were in camp.
Melvin said he doesn't resent his players for putting a damper on his first spring as general manager.
"I'm not frustrated at the players or anything like that," he said.
But he is frustrated at the union's increasingly militant stance against not only replacement players, but al
so the minor-leaguers. Union chief Donald Fehr said anyone who plays in an exhibition game will be considered a strikebreaker.
"I think that this thing about the minor-league players not playing is absurd," Melvin said. "I think it's going to cost a lot of players jobs. I think when it's settled, they won't care about those guys."
If and when it's settled, Melvin won't have time to care about them, either. Only seven players are signed, so a settlement would force him to move quickly to sign the rest.
"There would be continual negotiations with the unsigned players," he said. "We probably wouldn't get them all signed until Opening Day."
It's yet another reason why, despite the brilliant sunshine and the green grass outside his windows, this is far from an idyllic spring for the Rangers' first-year general manager.