Date: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017
Opponent: Seattle Mariners (72-73)
Starters: Mike Leake (9-12, 4.10) vs. Martin Perez (12-10, 4.81)
Wild Card Situation: 3.0 games behind Twins
Still Behind: Angels
Royals (Not the Royals. They lost to the White Sox this afternoon)
There are eighteen games left in the 2017 season, at minimum. After that, there are a maximum (as best I understand tiebreaker rules, Game 163s, and the like) of twenty-three more after that. Soon, we will begin the rapid descent from summer’s sun-kissed golden glow into hoodies, scarves, and the skritch-skritch-skritch of the leaves in our front yard. Before we know it, it will again be time for long nights, winter coats, and the gray-blue tint of a world of red noses and frosty breath.
But first, we have (at least) eighteen more games.
It’s the September 13th Baseball Texas Daily!
1. Mike Napoli
Clubhouse didn’t open for another fifteen minutes, but Jon Daniels had news. We expected there to be some update after yesterday’s mixed messages from Napoli and Jeff Banister.
Once we had gathered and had our recorders rolling, he began:
“So just an update from yesterday: Nap had-- we had done an MRI on Monday; it showed a stress reaction in his right leg, lower-right leg. So we actually had a second MRI done yesterday. We were waiting on confirmation of the diagnosis before we said anything, which is why there was a little bit of ambiguity yesterday. We didn’t want to say that until it was confirmed. It’s the kind of situation where there’s some risk of playing on it, but it’s also a situation where he can play, with pain tolerance, if he’s okay with that. So, he’s not in the lineup today, but is available off the bench and is still an active player for us, and could factor in during the game; he could be a player off the bench, could get some starts, but we’re going to try to manage it as well as we can.”
A clarifying question: is this a stress fracture?
“A stress reaction, which I think is… I think it’s shades of gray, basically. I think they’re related; a stress fracture is worse, which I think that’s the next step if it were to get worse.”
Later in the clubhouse, a group of reporters migrated to the 35-year-old first baseman. He was asked what he thinks he is capable of doing, with his pain tolerance. “I can’t give you an exact answer,” he replied, “but I think I can go out there and deal with the pain.”
Another reporter asked what he had told the team he was capable of doing. DH? Field? “I mean… I said I could play,” Napoli replied. “I’d like to play. I’m not the person that’s just going to say ‘That’s it; I’m done’ without knowing (whether) I can go out there and play with it, so… So I told them I can play.”
Had the medical staff given him any limitations? “No, they said pain tolerance," Napoli insisted. "I’ve always played with (health) stuff going on, my whole career.”
I mentioned Daniels’ statement that there was some risk of making the injury worse if he played on it, and asked if he had any concerns about making it worse. “That’s a risk I’m willing to take at this point in the season,” he said.
Next on the tour of questions was Jeff Banister. “What I do know about Nap,” the manager said “is that he’s a grinder. He knows what it’s like to play long seasons and into the playoffs. He knows what it takes through the month of September and what you’ve gotta put yourself through. So I feel confident that he’ll be ready in any capacity that we ask him to be in.”
I don’t envy the job of telling a 12-year veteran that he’s not in the lineup in a playoff chase. There are parts of being a manager that seem interesting, or even fun. This is not one of those parts. “
“That’s part of it. Look, I honor what these guys want to do, how they feel, and everything. It’s just the open line of communication of… the truthfulness of where they’re at. That’s the thing I ask of them daily is just… ‘I know how much you want to be in the game. But what, truthfully, what can you give us today? How are you feeling. This is not the time of the year that you need to pretend to be a superhero. Just be the guy that you are and be honest with what you’ve got, and let me figure out the rest.”
One gets the impression that this is a recap of the conversation Banister had with Napoli yesterday at the batting cages.
2. There really isn’t much of a second story today. The Rangers need Martin Perez to beat Mike Leake, Nick Martinez will start Friday in Anaheim against the Angels, Yohander Mendez is not a consideration to start a game right now, Carlos Gomez is out of his walking boot, but not available to play, and Jeff Banister still isn’t going to answer questions about his ejection last night by Jeff Nelson, whose strike zone appeared to be an avant-garde interpretation of a visually-impaired mole rat's recounting of balls and strikes as relayed through carnival funhouse mirrors (my words, not Banisters, lest there be any first-time readers today).
But none of those things seem to matter that much right now.
This time of year has that effect. What has been the secret to Martin Perez turning a mental corner? We could chat all day about it, but in the end: they need him to win a game tonight. Adrian Beltre is technically available off the bench, and according to the manager, he is “a bat off the bench,” but as to the finer details about if he is 50%, 60%, or any other percentage? If they call on him, they need a hit. To win a game. How has Andrew Cashner looked recently? Great. But they need him to win his next game, too.
There are eighteen games left, and the Rangers are three games behind Minnesota. There’s no time left to figure anything out; they need to win and win now, or there will be no nineteenth game. You might conclude that experiencing stress is not exclusive to Mike Napoli’s lower right leg right now.
“Pomegranate” by Astronautalis. I went to see Astronautalis a couple weeks ago at the Granada Theater. Rap music is really hit & miss live (although, that’s a sentiment that could probably be applied to every genre of music), but he knocked it out of the park. His gravelly voice and clever lyrics are a very distinct flavor, so if it’s not for you, it’s not for you. But some of you will get it. Start with “Two Years Before the Mast”, which features Sarah Jaffe on the chorus. If the name isn’t new, and you’ve heard this record already, there’s a 2016 record titled “Cut the Body Loose” and three new singles this year, called “Sick” (featuring P.O.S. and Ceschi), “These Songs” (feat. Fadeaway Jumper and Factor Chandelier), and “The Dirt Bike” (feat. Factor Chandelier)
Also, this one comes with a NSFW lyrics warning.
(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.
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