Shin-Soo Choo certainly isn’t turning cartwheels about hitting above .250, but the Korean media covering the Texas Rangers’ right fielder thinks it’s a big deal.
He said that reporters from his home country flooded him with questions about clearing the plateau Friday after going 3 for 5 to push his average to .252 — the highest it’s been since July 4, 2014.
It’s progress, and Choo is glad to be making progress. But he has done better in his career and believes he is capable of more the rest of this season and in the future.
“I believe, myself, that I’m a .300 hitter,” Choo said Saturday before the second game of a three-game series at Angel Stadium. “I’m trying. I’m excited to play better, but I’m not happy with .250.”
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Choo has been one of the Rangers’ best hitters since the All-Star break, batting .319 with five homers and 23 RBIs in 40 second-half games. Since a miserable April in which he batted .096, Choo has batted .272 with 15 of his 16 homers and 56 of his 61 RBIs.
He believes he can finish with 20 homers, 70 RBIs and an average between .260 and .270.
“That’s a pretty significant season,” manager Jeff Banister said. “It really is a testament to him, just the resilience that he has, the work that he has put in and having some real stubbornness and belief. It was a challenge early for him.”
Right-hander Tanner Scheppers, the former eighth-inning ace who has twice been sent to the minors after struggling this season, will likely be activated Sunday to reinforce a bullpen that is without Keone Kela.
Rangers trainers took a look at Scheppers’ left knee, which put him on the disabled list Aug. 2. He had been pitching at Triple A Round Rock.
Scheppers was in the Rangers’ September plans all along, but those plans were altered when Kela came up with a sore elbow. The Rangers need a right-hander in the bullpen with Kela out at least through the weekend.
The rookie was in Arlington receiving treatment on the elbow, and Banister said that Kela could throw as soon as Sunday and will rejoin the club Monday in Seattle.
“Having to rest Keone a little bit, having another guy available to pitch for us was probably necessary,” Banister said. “The guy was sore, so we gave him a couple days to let the soreness get out. I’m sure with the rest and the treatment, he’ll be fine.”
Banister expected Ross Ohlendorf, who had soreness Friday in the back of his right shoulder, to be available Saturday night.
Colby Lewis will enter his 28th start of the season Sunday at 170 innings, 30 shy of the plateau he and all starting pitchers hope to reach. Lewis hasn’t logged 200 innings since 2011.
Since then, he has had surgery on a torn flexor tendon and hip resurfacing. But he’s still ticking and piling up starts and innings.
“I knew that I could always do it,” Lewis said. “You have to be pretty good throughout the year to be able to hit that 200-inning mark. You have to be in a lot of ball games.”
Colby Lewis logged 201 innings in 2010 and 200 1/3 innings in 2011, the only two times he has reached 200 innings in the major leagues.
Lewis (14-7, 4.50 ERA) will likely make six starts the rest of the season and will need to average five innings per outing. He has gone at least six innings 20 times this season.
“I know I’m knocking on the door and am pretty close to it,” Lewis said. “You always want to reach that 200-inning mark. Hopefully, I can do it this year.”
▪ Infielder Jurickson Profar (shoulder) was transferred from Low A Hickory to Double A Frisco to continue his rehab assignment. He batted .273 with one homer in nine games at Hickory.
▪ The Rangers hired former pitcher Brian Sikorski as a pro scout. Sikorski pitched in 10 games for the Rangers in 2000 but most recently pitched in Japan. He retired last year.