Date: Wednesday, June 21st, 2017
Rangers’ Record: 35-35 (T-2nd place, 12.0 games behind Houston)
Tonight’s Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays (34-36)
Tonight’s Starters: Joe Biagini (1-6, 4.26) vs. Tyson Ross (1-0, 3.18)
We’re halfway through the four-game series with the Blue Jays and we’ve had an excruciating loss and a snoozer of a win. What else will the week hold? We have some updates on the former Phillies left-hander(s), and then...
Is there beef between perhaps baseball’s most-loved character and its least-liked character? No, I’m not talking about Jose Bautista, I’m talking about Adrian Beltre and Joe West.
It’s the June 21st Baseball Texas Daily!
1. Adrian Beltre is, and this is no exaggeration, one of baseball’s most beloved characters. Nobody doesn’t like Adrian Beltre (at least no one whose opinion is worth listening to). So it came as some surprise when Joe West mentioned in an interview that the player who he thought complained more than anyone was ...Beltre?
"It’s got to be Adrian Beltre. Every pitch you call that’s a strike, he says, "Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!’ I had a game with him recently and the pitch was right down the middle. He tells me, "that ball is outside.’
"I told him, ‘You may be a great ballplayer, but you’re the worst umpire in the league. You stink.’’
That was the quote from West, and everyone's eyebrows and ire were raised. But Beltre mentioned after the game that he thought West was joking, telling us this:
"Really? I don't really complain to umpires. I joke around with the umpires. If I recall, he was umpiring on Saturday and we were joking around. The pitch was down the middle and I said 'outside' and we laughed about it a bit. He said, 'You might be a good ball player but you'd be a horse (expletive) umpire,' and we laughed at it. It was a joke. I don't think it was anything serious. I don't have any issue with any umpire. I'm pretty honest with the umpire. If I think it's a ball, I'll tell you I'm going to check it out inside. And it's a ball it's a ball, it's a strike it's a strike. Something happened I don't remember who it was at home plate and I thought the pitch was low. I said, 'Wasn't that low?' He said, 'No, it was good.' I went inside and I said, 'You know what, you were right. It was a good pitch.' I've never had any beef with any umpires and Joe West neither. It was a joke. I don't think we had any issue last Saturday when he was here."
Today, he spoke on camera, and while he still believes it was a joke, he did at least allow that maybe Joe West ...wasn't joking? Check it out.
Of course, our thoughts on Joe West have been elucidated here before, and Adrian Beltre is, well, Adrian Beltre, which is not news to him: “Even if he’s serious,” Beltre shrugged. “I know where I’m staying tonight, the umpires know where I’m staying tonight, so… [another shrug and a grin] I’m not gonna change my ways for Joe.”
2. Tyson Ross is starting for the Rangers tonight. We talked to Ross yesterday, asking if he felt any different now that he had his first start of the year under his belt. “I always have the gameday jitters,” Ross admitted, “but that’s part of baseball. I’m feeling good; in the five-day rotation and I’ve got my work in between in the bullpen and feeling strong and looking forward to (to)night.
Part of what took Ross so long to return was that he asked for additional starts to perfect his ablility to make adjustments mid-inning. With that out of the way, Ross says now it’s time to get down to the art of outs. “It’s just about competing, there’s nothing you’re out there working on, it’s get outs and give us a chance to win. Put up zeroes and come in and sit down.”
Ross feels good after his first start, saying that the win against the Mariners (and taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning) helps his confindence coming into today’s start. “Yeah, definitely. You have to build off every positive you can and the last outing was nice for me to get out there after a long delay and coming away with a win and feeling healthy. So I’m looking forward to this one and getting another win.
3. Jake Diekman is back in the clubhouse today for the first time since the third (and final) surgery to combat ulcerative colitis. Diekman spoke to us in his usual colorful terms about his plans for a return:
“Take away the amount of bowel movements I have every day–It feels like I’m sitting on a campfire most of the day–besides that I feel great,” Diekman said. “Because the hole (in my stomach) is sealed up. (The doctor) was like, ‘You can start throwing whenever you want but hold off on going full out until the six week mark’. End of July. In my eyes, it’s July 19-20.”
Diekman told us he plans to be aggressive with his comeback workout routine. “I’m going to start throwing next homestand and that’ll be Week 3. That will give me three weeks of throwing. I’ve thrown off and on in between every surgery. I have a date in my head but I’m not going to say it out loud.”
As for the recovery, it sounds… harrowing. “The first and second day kind of sucked. Just the anesthesia kind of screwed me up. Puked three or four times. I got a couple of catheters put in. About four of those (but Nomar Mazara) had a home run during the catheter. Me and the guy putting it in [motions as if cheering, watching TV] we had a homer. I’ll get one every day if we win the game. They don’t hurt that bad.”
Diekman hasn’t lost as much weight as one might expect, given that he has been wearing a colostomy bag for six months. “I think I’m right around 200 [pounds]. About the same as before surgery. I can ride a stationary bike. I don’t know if I can run (but) I plan on pitching in like a month and a half. Easy. I start throwing as soon as I’m able to not live and die by the porcelain palace.”
That was about all the detail we needed.
Diekman wasn't the only lefty pitcher that Philadelphia traded to Texas in the 2015 deal. The other one was also on the comeback trail today, as ...
4. Cole Hamels pitched in Frisco, and by all accounts, he looked sharp, posting this line: 5⅔ innings pitched, 2 hits, 1 run (earned), two walks, and five strikeouts, all on 81 pitches (56 strikes)
Our Matt Fisher was at the game, and has a report here.
5. Speaking of minor leagues, there was a pretty big announcement made today. Our Kate Morrison knows WAY more about how this stuff works than I do. Take it away, Kate! [Kate shuffles paper on desk, looks into camera, aaaaaand….]
Minor league affiliation shuffles are both inconsequential and extremely important - they’re inconsequential in that every team will end up with the requisite number of minor league teams, but important in that if you’re late to the table, you’ll end up with all your hitters forgetting what the air at sea level acts like.
Luckily for the Rangers, things seem to be falling into place for them to keep their triple-A team right where they want it - in Texas, only a few hours away from the big league park. Today, it was announced that the Elmore Sports Franchise, which owns several minor league teams, was going to play switch-a-roo among their various home stadiums, including taking minor league baseball back to the Panhandle’s other major city. The teams in play are the double-A San Antonio Missions (a San Diego Padres affiliate), the triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox (a Milwaukee Brewers affiliate), and the short-season Helena Brewers (a Milwaukee Brewers affiliate). Functionally, the double-A franchise known as the Missions will move to Amarillo, but leave the “Missions” name in San Antonio, where it is rumoured to be picked up by the triple-A franchise moving from Colorado Springs. The Sky Sox will become a short-season team, leaving Helena, Washington without a professional franchise, for the moment.
The Texas Rangers come into this in 2018, when their current Player Development Contract with the Round Rock Express ends. It’s an open secret that with Nolan Ryan’s move to Houston - and the Ryan-Sanders group’s control of the Express - Houston is expected to sign with the Express the moment they can, returning their triple-A team from Fresno, California, and leaving Texas with a limited set of options, before today. With the introduction of a third (El Paso being the second) Texas-based triple-A team, the Rangers stand first in line to affiliate with the new Missions. Nothing official can be said about this until their current PDC runs out in September 2018, but logic dictates what would be the ideal move for the team.
That’s all we have for today! Except for the music rec, of course.
I hate to be lazy about it and recommend something that everyone has heard, but I’ve been listening to the new Lorde record pretty non-stop for the last day and a half. If you haven’t heard of Lorde before, I’m not sure what to tell you, other than to commend your bravery for reading music recommendations even though you haven’t listened to a single song since 2012. (Spotify, Apple Music, Website)
During the regular season, these recommendations occasionally come from Rangers players, broadcasters, or other people around the team (here’s a complete list). If there’s a player or person you’d like Levi to ask for a music recommendation, shoot him an e-mail email@example.com or a tweet here.
You can follow Levi Weaver on Twitter at @ThreeTwoEephus, or for fewer puns and more straight-forward Baseball News updates, you can follow us at @BaseballTX, or download the app and get in-game updates and notifications by clicking on the logo below!