For the typical player, things might have gotten a little awkward Friday afternoon in the Texas Rangers clubhouse. Derek Holland, though, isn’t the typical player.
Many of his teammates were captivated by his appearance on an MLB Network show, one that poked fun at him as much as he poked fun at himself and the two hosts.
All the while, Holland sat quietly at a table with his headphones on and his iPad in hand to watch video clips of the Los Angeles Angels hitters he’ll be facing Saturday night.
It’ll be his first start since shutting out Baltimore last weekend on three hits and 116 pitches — a start that he believes is better than any in his career.
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Yes, better than Game 4 of the 2011 World Series, when he tossed 8 1/3 scoreless innings on baseball’s biggest stage. The complete-game effort Sunday told him that he is back after two years of injuries.
The Rangers, however, are weighing just how far they will let Holland go the rest of this season. He’ll definitely be in the rotation, but the Rangers plan to keep close tabs on him down the stretch.
“We know he’s been out to 116,” manager Jeff Banister said. “I don’t know if we’ll be as liberal with that number. That’s not to say that we don’t go to that number. We haven’t taken the gloves off just yet.”
Holland said that he feels fine entering his fifth start of the season, his fourth since coming off the disabled list Aug. 19 after missing fourth months with a shoulder injury.
The off day Thursday allowed him to catch up after the nine-inning workload against the Orioles, and the off day is what allowed him to go the distance.
“If we didn’t have the extra day, it’s probably a different scenario,” Banister said.
Holland understands that he will be monitored going forward. He logged only 37 innings last season and has racked up just 22 1/3 so far in 2015.
Even adding in the innings from his rehab starts, his arm hasn’t been very active the past two years and the Rangers don’t want to push him.
Derek Holland threw 116 pitches Sunday, his most pitches in a game since logging 119 against Baltimore on July 19, 2013.
But games need to be won if the Rangers want to make the postseason, and Holland looks as if he could be a force down the stretch. Despite the club’s concerns, his arm is fresh and his stuff has been good.
“It sucks that I am as fresh as I am, but I need to use this to my benefit and help these guys,” Holland said. “I don’t know what the plan is from here on out, but I’m just happy they let me have the chances to go out there for nine innings.
“I feel like everything is good. My job is to be prepared every five days. Now, it’s go time.”
We know he’s been out to 116. I don’t know if we’ll be as liberal with that number. That’s not to say that we don’t go to that number. We haven’t taken the gloves off just yet.
Manager Jeff Banister
Banister hadn’t been around Holland before this season but knew he was a good pitcher. Banister also knew of the other stuff, from the zany impersonations to the silly commercials and TV spots.
But he has learned something else: Holland will be prepared for each start.
Having not been around Holland before this season, Banister was unaware of how much time and preparation Holland puts in between starts.
“As loose as he is and as much fun as he has off the field and in the clubhouse, to see his preparation, it’s refreshing, really, because he puts a premium on preparation,” Banister said. “I didn’t have that coming in on Derek. I knew that this was a quality left-handed pitcher, but to add the factor that he’s willing to put the extra work in has impressed me.”
Holland is also pumped with more confidence after his shutout of the Orioles. It showed him that he can survive a significant injury — be it to his knee or his shoulder — and still be an effective pitcher.
That’s why Sunday outweighs the 2011 Fall Classic.
“It’s more meaningful to me because of what I overcame,” Holland said. “It shows I can overcome anything and no situation is too much for me.”
Nevertheless, the Rangers are going to keep an eye on Holland’s workload — as much as they can while weighing the need to win — the rest of the season.
“We’re still going to monitor the pitch count, and he’s going to have to be completely honest with us on how he feels,” Banister said.