Banister speaks about Pudge and Beltre

Date: Sunday, July 30th
Rangers’ Record: 50-53 (T-3rd, 18 games behind Houston)
Wild Card Position: (T-6th of 12, 4.5 games out)
Tonight’s Opponent: Baltimore Orioles (49-54)
Tonight’s Starters: Wade Miley (4-9, 5.69) vs. Martin Perez (5-8, 4.67)

We have known for quite some time that July 30th would be a memorable day. But not too many people guessed it would have the potential to be *this* memorable. With Ivan Rodriguez being inducted into the Hall of Fame, and Adrian Beltre entering the day at 2,999 hits (and on the flip side, with the trade deadline staring the team in the face just 24 hours from now), this may go down as one of the most important days in franchise history.

So I’ll get out of the way and defer to the skipper on this one. What follows is a transcription of our conversation with Jeff Banister about Pudge Rodriguez and Adrian Beltre, and the significance of this day in Rangers history.

(What do you remember about Pudge as a player?)

“I saw him when he first signed, and was first in Ranger camp. I played against him when he was a 16-year-old. It’s kinda funny; we played a game against him, and we got a really close look at the arm. We didn’t know anything about him… we had a baserunner on first base, and within, I don’t know, the first three pitches? He was eliminated at first base by Pudge. (We were) like, ‘What just happened, here?’ That’s how quick he was. It was an instructional league game or something… somebody tried to run, (Pudge) threw him out.

He just had a short, compact body. Young, fresh kid, bouncing all over the place. And then you kinda watch the transformation over the course of the next two-plus years, where he was in the big leagues. Most of us that had seen him at that age weren’t surprised. You never know the success a guy’s going to have, but the skill set was lively, it was-- when you’re sitting in the other dugout, he’s one of those guys that–early, when he’s young–you might say ‘oh, he’s cocky’, but that’s just how he played. Great energy and very assured of himself.

And then you watch the transformation of the offense. The home runs, the RBI, and he had that knack for, in certain situations inside the game, he’d come up big, and let his emotions show. Pretty much complete behind the plate. A real weapon. He’s one of the few catchers you can think of who would eliminate the running game, on his own, just ‘Hey you can’t get very far off, or he’s gonna pick you off, so you’re not gonna get a great jump.’ (But) you’d have to have a great jump to even get close to being safe.

You knew he was going to be in the middle of the action on every single game he ever played. And to be able to do it for as long as he did, at that position, really, that’s-- any time you look at it. Eric (Nadel) and I were talking about this, and Buechele was in here earlier. Any time you look at milestones, or things that players do at this game, and you really want to wrap your head around it, just do the simple math: So Pudge caught more games than anyone in the history of the game, right? (Editor’s note: Correct. The answer is 2,427. He also played 57 at DH, 8 at first base, and two innings in 2006 at second base). To play that position, and do what he did, statistically, is mind-boggling, and to do it at the level he did, and at the number of Gold Gloves, All-Stars... “

(on the potential of Pudge's induction and Beltre's 3000th hit happening on the same day)

Absolutely, possibly all baseball eyes are on the Texas Rangers. Pudge is the star of the stars in that arena, not to take anything away from anyone else. Again, the math: a stack of Gold Gloves, All-Star games played, the numbers… and then on top of that, to have the next Hall of Famer, if you will, to have an opportunity to get to 3,000 today. If he gets to 3,000 today, I think it’s one of those days that as a Ranger, you’ll forever remember that this is, on the calendar year, Ranger Day. Yeah, it’s pretty special for a number of reasons.

(You’ve made it clear, your pride in wearing that uniform across your chest. Do events like this add to the pride of the franchise?)

Yeah! No, absolutely! World Series Championships are the benchmark. I don’t think anything will surpass that. Beyond that, American League championships, divisional championships, and then you dig into the individual accolades and accomplishments of the players, so - the Hall of Famers, individual milestones, of course, to have the next 3,000 hit club member to be your own? It absolutely adds to the pride in that jersey. Absolutely.

(OTHER) BASEBALL STUFF

- A.J. Griffin had been scheduled to throw 90 pitches last night, but only threw 40. We were concerned there might be an injury, but Griffin told us that the team had informed him ahead of time that he would only be throwing 40-45. "Just keeping our options open," Banister told us later. Reading between the lines, this is so that if the Rangers need a starter on Tuesday, Griffin will be available. Yu Darvish is currently scheduled to pitch that night. 

- The Rangers have received INF Tyler Smith from the Mariners on a waiver claim. Smith is a defense-first utility infielder with just ten big league games (all this season) under his belt. 

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!

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