Date: Tuesday, May 16th
Rangers’ Record: 19-20 (3rd place, 8.0 games behind Houston)
Tonight’s Opponent: Philadelphia Phillies (14-21)
Tonight’s Starters: Jared Eickhoff (0-3, 4.76) vs. Yu Darvish (3-2, 2.96)
The weather is unseasonably cool for mid-May in Texas. The clouds are indistinguishable from one another, their holding of hands having now turned into an embrace that lays over the Arlington sky like a layer of jam on Texas toast. Carlos Gomez is injured, and Shin-Soo Choo is kind-of-injured-but-not-really, and Adrian Beltre is looking less injured, and Cole Hamels is still injured, which I wouldn’t bring up except the Phillies are in town, so we got to talk to Cole today.
The clouds and the injuries seem to be simpatico, but take heart: on the other side of that thin-spread water vapor jelly is the sun, and in the midst of all these injuries, the Rangers are on a six-game winning streak, and could get back to .500 with a win tonight. It’s the May 16th Baseball Texas Daily!
1. Beltre, according to Jeff Banister, went “80% on the AlterG today, 50% on the field, and took batting practice and ground balls.” Beltre talked to the media afterwards, and we have video:
The thing that became clear to me today was this: Beltre, in the recent past, has more or less been in charge of his own rehab and recovery. When he says he’s ready, even if it’s wildly ahead of schedule, well-- he’s ready. Beltre seems to admit that some of the frustration for him has been that while the team was playing poorly, he was not allowed to “push it” and get back ahead of schedule.
“I was unhappy,” Beltre admitted, when asked about his taking a few days off to go spend time with family in the days leading up to the Rangers’ last road trip. “I was not satisfied with the situation that was going on, but I came to terms that it was out of my hands, and I had to accept what the situation was, and try to find the best way to get back.”
2. Jared Hoying was officially announced as the replacement for Carlos Gomez, who will miss 4-6 weeks with a strained right hamstring, an injury he incurred on Sunday. Hoying was with the team on more than one occasion last season, and has experience in all three outfield positions. It was no surprise that he was called up when Gomez went down, especially with Shin-Soo Choo missing Sunday’s game with back stiffness (more on that later).
But what might come as a little bit of a surprise: Hoying is not backing up, say, Ryan Rua in the lineup today. He is the starting center fielder, and it appears that may be the case for awhile. “We’re gonna let him play,” Banister said. “See if we can’t get him going. We have some options. Delino can go out there, Rua can go out there. It’s not really clear right now if we’re going to use it as a platoon situation or if it’s just a straight ‘let Jared play’, but we do have some options.”
Asked to clarify if he meant that Jared was going to get a chance to be the centerfielder, at least for a few days, Banister confirmed, kind of. “Yeah, I think so,” he nodded. “I think we’ll start with that, yeah.”
3. The reason you’re not seeing Delino DeShields or Ryan Rua in center field full time might have more to do with leather than wood. “I think that he’s an extremely capable centerfielder to play at this level defensively,” Banister said of Hoying. “I think that Delino is capable of playing center field, I think Rua has the skill set to play out there… I think it’s hard right now to say that one guy is ‘the best’, based on-- there’s limited experience of all three of them out there. Delino has the most experience playing center field, out of all three of those guys, so I would… I don’t have any problem putting any one of them out there.”
That may be the case, but DeShields, remember, was the starting center fielder last season before Ian Desmond–who had been a shortstop his entire career before signing with Texas, and had transitioned to left field in Spring Training–displaced him. DeShields’ struggles at the plate eventually landed him back in the minors, but defense was a factor then. It’s been a factor this year, too, when Banister has replaced DeShields with a late lead.
Of course, there is the argument that DeShields has improved.
He has not played enough innings to qualify for FanGraphs’ defensive rankings, but if you fidget with the qualifiers and make it a minimum of 170 innings, DeShields ranks fourth out of 24 left fielders in overall DEF rating, and seventh in UZR.
4. While we’re on the topic of injured outfielders, Carlos Gomez had a PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) injection to aid the healing of his hamstring. He told us today that 4-6 weeks was the “worst-case” scenario, and that he could be back earlier. Meanwhile, Shin-Soo Choo, who missed Sunday’s game with back tightness (and is out of the lineup today as well) told us not to worry too much about him. “If I really wanted to, I could have played Sunday,” Choo said “but after the experience last year with my back, I got scared a little bit because I don’t want to make it worse. So I talked to Banny, and he said ‘let’s give it one day today’, then yesterday was an off-day, so two days off, and I feel even better today.”
“The positive thing is that it’s not a similar injury, last year to this year. (This one is) way less. So that’s good news. I feel a lot better than two days ago, yesterday was better, so I talked to Banny and said ‘I think I can play today,’ and he said ‘you know what, with Gomez out (as much as) six weeks, I don’t want anything to happen (...) so I’m going to give you another day, maybe be a bat off the bench’. Hopefully tomorrow, it will be even better.”
Choo told us he feels “about 70%” of full health.
5. Cole Hamels spoke to a throng of Philadelphia writers today. Hamels, of course, won a World Series with the Phillies in 2008, and came to the Rangers in the 2015 trade that sent Philadelphia tonight’s starter Jerad Eickhoff, among others.
“It would have been something fun,” Hamels allowed, when asked if there was any disappointment about being on the DL when he might have been able to pitch against his former team. “But I think it probably would have been a little more fun if it was back in Philly. I think that would have probably had a little more significance and a little more of a memory than if the opportunity had been here (in Arlington). Unfortunately, neither happened, so I’ll just have to wait til… well, we’ll see how long we have to wait for that.”
“There’s always the World Series,” one Philadelphia writer joked.
“...When?!” Hamels retorted with a smile and a laugh.
I don’t remember where I heard about Seattle-based Sera Cahoone, but when I was scrolling through my Spotify weekly discover playlist today looking for a music rec, I saw her name and remembered I had intended to listen to her new record, titled “From Where I Started”. It came out on March 24th of this year, and is full of Cahoone’s well-written, folksy/rootsy delivery. If you’re a fan of, say, Neko Case, I think you’ll enjoy this.
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org or a tweet here.
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