Long season, long games, long daily media briefings, few answers — hopefully manager Jeff Banister found his happy place at some point during the Texas Rangers’ 10-3 loss Tuesday night.
He wasn’t around to watch it from the dugout, once plate ump Jeff Nelson gave him the thumb for arguing balls and strikes after Ryan Rua was caught looking at a pitch off the plate.
Nelson had been baiting Banister and other Rangers with his wide, wide strike zone. He made some iffy calls early when the Rangers were still in it and late after they weren’t in it.
Maybe he decided to correct the pace of play problem all by himself, and didn’t want to hear from Banister as he did it.
Banister was tossed for the sixth time this season, which again might make some wonder if umpires have a shorter fuse with him than they do other managers.
Whatever. Nelson didn’t win the game for the Seattle Mariners, who also had some justifiable complaints.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction.
1. For some reason, no one wants to talk about what is wrong with Mike Napoli’s right ankle, and why he told reporters he was going to play Tuesday even though the posted lineup didn’t have him in it.
Napoli said that he underwent an MRI earlier in the day and didn’t have any results. The ankle was heavily taped, but he was ready to take batting practice. And he did.
But before breaking up the media gaggle, he said he was playing. Even after the reporters all leaned over and looked at the Napoli-less lineup, he said he was playing.
Banister, though, said he wasn’t, and he didn’t play. The two talked it out as Napoli took BP.
It was a strange scene between manager and respected veteran.
Napoli has struggled this season unlike any other in his career. If the Rangers don’t want him in the lineup any more — they did call up Willie Calhoun — then just tell him. Napoli is a pro. He might not like it, but he’ll say and do the right thing.
Otherwise, he expects to play if he’s able, and he believed he was able. Only last week Banister and general manager Jon Daniels said that the guys who have taken the Rangers this far had earned the right to take them to the finish line. Napoli, right or wrong with that .194 average, is one of them.
Rougned Odor has a bum ankle but has played two straight games. He has struggled only slightly less than Napoli. And Napoli has been out two straight games against a left-hander, and while he’s just a .202 hitter this season against lefties, his on-base and slugging percentages against them seemed like a good fit.
If the Rangers had a legitimate injury concern, they could have easily just let it be known to him. Maybe that’s what he and Banister were discussing in their cage-side chat.
But something wasn’t right, with a respected veteran no less. It was a strange scene.
2. Calhoun is officially a major-leaguer. The prize of the Yu Darvish trade has a hit, an RBI and a sliding catch on his ledger, and he’s going to get the chance to keep going.
He received raves from those who saw him at Triple A Round Rock, especially manager Jason Wood. Calhoun’s bat is his money-maker, and it was quite a bat in the minors.
But he wasn’t just up there hacking, as Wood said. Calhoun goes to the plate with a plan. He knows the strike zone and can bait a pitcher. His bat is quick, the stroke is compact and the sound of the ball coming off it is loud.
His promotion now makes him a contender for the Opening Day roster. Napoli won’t be back and Carlos Gomez seems unlikely to return. Joey Gallo is the shoo-in replacement for Napoli at first base, and Delino DeShields is the leader to replace Gomez in center field.
That leaves left field and designated hitter open. Calhoun showed that he is serviceable in left field, and Wood said that Calhoun made some nice improvements over 24 games at Round Rock. If the defense becomes a liability and the bat is too good to sit, Calhoun could slide to DH.
Of course, the two toughest times to scout players is in spring training and in September. But the reports on Calhoun, and the fact that he’s in the majors, suggest that he is a contender for the Opening Day roster.
He would be 23 years old. Nomar Mazara will turn 23 in April. Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor will be 24. Delino DeShields will be 25. Should that all make it that would give the Rangers five regulars 25 and younger.
They’ll have a couple older position players, namely Adrian Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo. Cole Hamels is just behind them.
But the notion that the Rangers would be an older team might not be accurate, depending on how they fill out their team — especially the rotation — via free agency.
That next wave of players that clubs are always talking about is well on its way for the Rangers, at least in terms of position players.
3. Miguel Gonzalez wasn’t around very long, but the 2 1/3 innings he did pitch was too long for the Rangers.
Seattle knocked him around for seven runs, six on a pair of two-run homers. The Mariners had seven hits total, so it wasn’t just the long ball that was the problem.
Gonzalez has been a problem in his two starts since being acquired Aug. 31 from the Chicago White Sox. He allowed four runs in three innings last week at Atlanta in the first game of a doubleheader.
At least the Rangers won that one.
They didn’t have much of a chance Tuesday, and it was a costly loss. The Minnesota Twins, possessors of the second wild-card spot, rolled past San Diego and knocked the Rangers three games back and back to .500.
He will start again this weekend, unless the Rangers would rather see Nick Martinez or A.J. Griffin. One of those guys seems likely to start Friday, though Yohander Mendez might do just as well, and the other could start Sunday if the Rangers don’t want to see Gonzalez again.
Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who worked 3 1/3 innings of relief, could also be ready by Sunday.
But they probably want to see Gonzalez again, and maybe he will figure it out.
Then again, his early results with the Rangers suggest that he won’t.