Date: Friday, June 16th, 2017
Rangers’ Record: 32-33 (3rd place, 12 games behind Houston)
Tonight’s Opponent: Seattle Mariners (33-35)
Tonight’s Starters: James Paxton (5-1, 2.25) vs. Tyson Ross (0-0, 0.00)
It’s a zero sum game, Major League Baseball. For every team win, someone loses. For every joyous home run, there is a slump-shouldered pitcher groaning. For every rookie making his MLB debut, there is a veteran waiting for one more last chance that will never come. The Rangers have no better example of this than today’s flurry of roster moves. In short, for every Tyson Ross, Dario Alvarez, Mike Napoli, and Carlos Gomez, there is a Dillon Gee, a Tony Barnette, a Jurickson Profar, and a Ryan Rua. Some will be back, others will not.
It’s the June 16th Baseball Texas Daily.
1. Tyson Ross is back. After choosing the Rangers over the Cubs this past offseason (thanks to their medical staff’s experience in dealing with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Ross did not fare well in the minor leagues in most of his four starts in Round Rock, accruing a 7.71 ERA to accompany his 2-1 record. But before the injury, he was a very good right-handed starter, making the National League All-Star squad in 2014, and logging over 200 strikeouts (212) in 2015 (though he also led the league in walks (84) and wild pitches (14) that season. But he made just one start (opening day) in 2016 before being shut down with the injury, and became a free agent in December of 2016, signing with the Rangers six weeks later. Now he is back in the big leagues, and off the 60-day DL. But to create space for Ross, the Rangers had to make a move, so...
2. Dillon Gee has been designated for assignment. Gee is a native of Cleburne, and still lives in Fort Worth. Much like Yovani Gallardo, Gee has long dreamed of pitching for his hometown team. Now, he is again jobless. I asked Jeff Banister what goes into making that decision…
Banister paused for six seconds, a long pause for the setting of a media scrum in a manager’s office. “It comes down to… [another six seconds] who some of the other guys are that are on the roster. It’s not always a perfect and clean decision. Sometimes there are some tough decisions on who you want to keep on the roster, um…”
Banister was looking at his lap. This is not the posture you normally get from this particular manager.
“There are optionable guys that you’re probably not going to take off the roster,” he says, making eye contact and nodding as if to make sure that I know he’s talking about Nick Martinez. “The challenge is when you get to the point with these guys that they don’t have…” There is another pause of exactly six seconds, as Banister looks again at his lap and then mutters, almost too quietly for the recorder to pick up his voice “You gotta make a decision.”
Then an excruciating twelve seconds of silence.
“More than anything else, it came down to: we had to put a starter on, and we had some other guys that we felt like had gained a little traction that were throwing the ball very well,” [he looks up again, and nods again. He is talking about Austin Bibens-Dirkx]. “So, the redundancy of who you have, right? That’s part of it..”
And here, Banister’s countenance changes, he sits up straight, and his voice doubles in volume, resolute. “Didn’t want to. I hope he gets claimed and put on somebody’s big league team. That’s how much I think of him. I like the human being, I like the guy…” he trails off, looking back down for a moment, and then he nods with a sense of finality.
I give this amount of detail for one reason: to remind us all that while this is a business, these are human beings who care deeply about each other. These are hard decisions to make, and they do not make them without knowing the full gravity of the consequences. Speaking of consequences...
3. Mike Napoli’s back. Both meanings: his back is what put him on the 10-day DL, and also he is back. Napoli admitted that he has to listen to his body a little more now that he is in his mid-30s, but said that even though he only played one rehab game, he feels what he needs to feel to be ready. “Going into the build up to it I was feeling good,” he said. “I know the feeling I’m supposed to have and that’s what I needed to do. I took groundballs and was able to run a little bit and everything went good.”
But to make room for Napoli, the Rangers had to send down…
4. Ryan Rua, who is spending his first time in AAA this season. Rua’s 2017 has been a disappointing one for him: he’s hitting just .202, with an OPS of .619. He has been worth negative Wins Above Replacement this season, and the organization views this as an opportunity for him to go get at-bats every day and get his feel back. We are precisely halfway through the roster moves the Rangers made today. Next up?
5. Carlos Gomez, who hit the low end of the 4-6 week diagnosis for his injured hamstring. Gomez was activated today as well, and regains his position as the Rangers everyday center fielder. “I feel really good you know, I feel like a kid.” Gomez admitted today. “I feel really good. Excited and I can’t wait.” He was smiling for the better part of the time he talked to the press.
The original plan was for Gomez to return either today or tomorrow, he told us, but “after I tested myself really good yesterday, caught a few fly balls, played seven innings, and we didn’t feel like playing today in Frisco would be necessary.”
To make room for Gomez on the roster...
6. Jurickson Profar was optioned back to AAA. The plan for Profar has been, and continues to be, for him to play every day. But with the rash of injuries, the team needed him here to fill the gap. Profar had a big walk in the win on Saturday against the Nationals, but otherwise seemed destined to return to AAA once the others returned from injury. Speaking of injury...
7. Tony Barnette has been placed on the 10-day DL with a sprained right ring finger. Barnette has struggled this year, and had this to say about the injury and his season:
“"It just got caught in a door jamb (while I was) taking bags out of the car the other night; it's just been a little sore, and so we're at this point now, and when performance suffers-- that's the true story, it's not a finger that made me pitch badly, it's-- the overall performance has been poor (...) even before the finger, performance had been lacking, so I'm not going to point fingers at any outside... I'm just going to point fingers at myself, and kinda start over today."
"I haven't felt right, and you guys watch enough baseball games to know that it hasn't been right. As a baseball player, it's hard, you know? I haven't been perfect my entire career, so unfortunately, this is nothing new, to have a little struggle here and there, just unfortunately this slump has lasted longer than I'd like. So now we're at this point, and I'm not thinking about the past; I'll just go ahead and erase all that crap and move on today and just get to work and find a way to come back and help this team win ballgames."
Replacing Barnette on the 25-man roster?
8. Dario Alvarez, who has spent more time traveling between Arlington and Round Rock that I will be asking him for eatery recommendations in Waco. Dario provides a left-handed reliever and keeps the bullpen at full strength.
Those are all the roster moves from today. But that’s not all the news. No no. There’s more.
9. Austin Bibens-Dirkx is going to start on Monday. It was him or Nick Martinez.
10. Cole Hamels is pitching a rehab start tonight in Frisco. I would provide more detail for these last two, but...
11. It’s already past the deadline to get this thing out, so here’s the Daily. But we *ALSO* talked to the top three draft picks this afternoon, AND: Colby Lewis, in town for tonight’s Do It For Durrett fundraiser, spoke to us at length, so expect an addendum closer to first pitch.
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