The West Coast was not kind to your Texas Rangers. The 2017 season, so far, hasn’t exactly been a bed of roses. But it’s early. Remember that. We still have 10 days left in April. When is it not “early” anymore? I’d say around mid-May. Even still, if no team runs away with a big lead in their division, who’s to say that “early” couldn’t stretch into June? Whether it’s still early or not there’s no doubt the Rangers want to be playing better baseball. A 5-10 start (their worst since 2002) was not what they expected coming out of spring training. The 9-1 loss to the Athletics on Wednesday afternoon had all the hallmarks of what has ailed them at various points through the first three weeks. They were held to three hits for the second consecutive day. The A’s had four hits, including three doubles, in the first inning on Wednesday.
1. For starters — Martin Perez entered Wednesday’s start with a 2.20 ERA, the best in the Rangers’ rotation. After he allowed four runs in the first and left the game in the fourth it shot up to 3.60, behind Yu Darvish’s 3.28 and Cole Hamels’ 3.50. One poor start isn’t the end of the world, of course, and Perez was game to shake off the first inning to get to the fourth. But the Rangers need some deep outings from their rotation, perhaps a string of them. In 15 starts they’ve combined for two games with seven complete innings.
Here’s how deep the starters have gone so far:
2. Hauschild — The Rangers have a decision to make. Do they keep reliever Mike Hauschild on the roster and hope that what they saw during spring training comes back around or do they cut him loose? The Rangers selected Hauschild from the Astros in the Rule 5 draft in December and he had a solid enough spring to earn a spot on the roster. So far, however, he’s allowed five homers, including three Wednesday, in eight innings. Perhaps he can work it out. If not, the Rangers’ bullpen could be hamstrung. The rules for Rule 5 players can be tedious but here are the basics, with some help from Baseball America. Rule 5 players must remain on the club’s 25-man roster the entire season or he must be placed on waivers. If no club picks him up and he passes through unclaimed waivers he is then sent back to his original team, who can reclaim control of said players for $50,000 (half the original $100,000 price tag paid by the drafting club), which is paid to the team who selected him in the draft. The original team can refuse the player and keep the $100,000. If so, the player becomes a normal member of the organization that drafted him in the Rule 5 and he can be optioned to the minors like any other player. There are other options, including a trade being worked out between the two clubs.
3. Wise words — Banister was asked before Tuesday’s game what the next step for Joey Gallo is. The answer? Don’t take one.“The next step is don’t try to take the next step,” Banister said with a smile. “Let’s master where he’s at right now. Get really good at what he’s doing right now and allow that barrel to show up and the hit totals [to improve]. Let’s grind those out before we think about what our next step is.”
Gallo continues to show an improved approach at the plate, including a 437-foot homer to center on Wednesday. He worked a walk Monday night after falling behind 1-2, laying off three consecutive balls. He has eight walks, including another on Wednesday, one behind Shin-Soo Choo for the team lead. Banister doesn’t want Gallo thinking about anything other than what he’s been doing the first three weeks of the season.
“Players get in too big of a hurry and we get in too big a hurry,” Banister said.
4. Delino’s dilemma — No Rangers player left spring training feeling more confident than Delino DeShields. And for good reason. He had a wonderful spring to put his 2016 struggles in the rearview mirror. But inconsistent playing time has left him scuffling at the plate, a dilemma that could only be fixed by daily playing time. “We have to continue to find at-bats for D,” Banister said. “We need to get him some spots where he can get comfortable again at the plate. I know it’s been a little frustrating for him the last couple times out there.”
DeShields has started three times, played in less than half the games, and only has 11 plate appearances. He finally collected his first hit Wednesday after entering the game in the eighth and singling to right field in the ninth. Banister knows the quandary DeShields is in. “Players have to take advantage of their opportunities,” he said.