Texas Rangers

May 20, 2014

Overdue roster shake-up precedes Rangers’ loss to Mariners

Three decisions, including J.P. Arencibia being shipped to Triple A, should make Texas better.

A round of golf typically leaves Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels comatose after nine holes. As such, he hits the links about once in every 12 to 18 months.

Even though Monday was another Rangers off day, it apparently wasn’t the time for Daniels to dust off the TaylorMades. Instead, he filled the downtime chatting up other Rangers officials on how to go about making the club better.

Their plan was hatched Tuesday before the opener of a two-game series against Seattle with three decisions that were overdue and completely necessary to give the Rangers the best chance of staying relevant in the American League.

Sent to Triple A was catcher J.P. Arencibia, who, despite his claim that he was making solid contact regularly, needed to be moved out in spring training.

Out of the rotation and back to the bullpen are left-hander Robbie Ross and right-hander Tanner Scheppers. Both tried their best in new roles, but their repeated struggles showed that they don’t make the Rangers better as starters, no matter how scarce starters currently are.

Arencibia replacement Chris Gimenez, who has never spent a full season in the majors, and Ross replacement Scott Baker, who has only 20 1/3 big-league innings since 2011, won’t suddenly made the Rangers favorites to win the World Series.

Those moves weren’t immediately felt during the Rangers’ 6-2 loss Tuesday night to Seattle, which pieced together four runs in the third against Colby Lewis. But the moves needed to be made, and the Rangers, now eight games behind Oakland in the AL West, will be better off.

“I’m not trying to create a spark,” manager Ron Washington said. “We’re trying to move some pieces into some positions where they can be successful.”

Lewis pitched six innings for the first time this season, but he allowed five runs, nine hits, three walks and hit a batter. Not every ball was well hit, including the blooper and bunt hit that started the Mariners’ big third inning and the two-run single by Kyle Seager, but they counted nonetheless.

“I didn’t get hit around,” said Lewis, who didn’t allow an extra-base hit. “It was a bunch of singles, a bunch of jam jobs, and maybe one or two that was hit hard.”

Lewis (3-3) would have been plenty good enough to have gotten Arencibia out. A batting average well below the Mendoza Line finally caught up to Arencibia, whose lone redeeming quality had been the success Yu Darvish had with him behind the plate.

At the plate, though, Arencibia was as close to an automatic out as there was in the league. He heads to Round Rock with a .133 average and nearly twice as many strikeouts (15) as hits (eight) in 60 at-bats.

Arencibia said that he needs to make adjustments, but the only one he specifically pointed to was having a better approach. He seems sold that everyday at-bats will help him shake out of a funk that he has been in since last season.

“I haven’t done what I’ve needed to do, so there’s no one blame except myself,” Arencibia said.

Scheppers was told Sunday that he would rehab from elbow inflammation as a starter, but that changed two days later because the bullpen is where the Rangers need him. They already have enough uncertainty in the rotation, and the back end of the bullpen isn’t exactly a sure thing with Alexi Ogando pitching with a 6.86 ERA, a .317 opponents’ average and a 1.93 WHIP entering Tuesday.

The Rangers also couldn’t afford to lose Scheppers, who will make a rehab appearance Saturday and is likely to come off the disabled list before the next homestand, to another injury.

“It’s a little disappointing, but I feel like we had a good conversation,” said Scheppers, who was 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA in four starts. “They mentioned they’re not in a position where they can risk anything else happening.”

The Rangers had a 2-7 record when Ross started, including six straight losses. He returns to the role he had his first two seasons in the majors, a middle-innings lefty reliever who can work multiple innings.

The start Ross was to make Friday at Detroit goes to Baker, a former 15-game winner who will be making only his fourth start since having Tommy John surgery in 2012.

He and Gimenez might not sound like much, but they can’t be any worse than Arencibia and Ross. That’s the plan, at least, that Daniels and crew devised Monday on another Rangers off day.

It was too windy for golf, anyway.

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