Part of the trials of developing players at the major-league level is sitting back and letting them figure things out for themselves, and that’s what the Texas Rangers are doing with second baseman Rougned Odor.
The rookie entered Sunday in an 0-for-17 skid, including a first-pitch popout in the ninth inning Saturday with runners at first and second and out in an eventual 2-0 loss. Odor has been a free-swinger in his first big-league season, and the Rangers have talked to him about trying to see more pitches.
But that’s where his youth and inexperience enters the picture. He has a plan before he enters the batter’s box, but oftentimes reverts to what he did while briefly in the minor leagues.
“Believe me, he doesn’t leave that dugout without a plan,” manager Ron Washington said. “Exhibiting patience will come with time. If I start trying to tell this kid, ‘Look, you’ve got to go up there and start taking pitches,’ then he won’t hit [anything].
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“He has to go through it and figure it out. I wish there was a map we could write out on how it’s supposed to be done, but you have to let him go through it and all you can do it talk to him and explain situations and how to approach it.”
Odor, who made his big-league debut May 8, continues to lead all American League rookies with five triples. But he had walked only nine times in 236 plate appearances entering Sunday and was averaging only 3.41 pitches per plate appearance.
That would rank as the sixth-fewest if he were a qualifying hitter, a tick below Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez (3.38) and a tick ahead of Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano (3.48). The league’s top hitter, Jose Altuve, sees the fewest at 3.18.
Swinging early in counts isn’t the biggest baseball sin, but Odor is a young player who doesn’t have a catalogue of how pitchers attack him.
“What does he know about that?” Washington said. “Baseball is difficult. It isn’t just about talent. It’s about having some know-how.”