Manager Jeff Banister made it perfectly clear Sunday and again Tuesday that there are no roles in the Texas Rangers’ bullpen and that each reliever has the same job: to get three outs with as little damage — with a huge preference toward no damage — as possible.
Banister, though, is attempting to keep things muddled as to how he will deploy his relievers. It’s a bit of gamesmanship being played by the manager, who doesn’t want the media to share his thoughts.
All Banister has said is that bullpen usage will depend on favorable matchups, for which there are all kinds of possibilities, and possibly riding the hot hand, for which there aren’t that many possibilities.
The latter could point to right-hander Shawn Tolleson emerging as the closer more often than not. Tolleson, like the others, hasn’t heard a word about when he will be used, but his goal is to be a closer at some point.
“I would be excited about it,” said Tolleson, whose changeup would play well against left-handed hitters. “But it’s not what I’m trying to do [now]. I truly want us to piece it together and put up zeroes and win games. However Banny sees that happening is the way we’re going to roll with it.”
Tolleson said that the relievers haven’t talked about the new situation, which was revealed to them Sunday. They have taken note that Banister, at least through the first two games, stayed true to his word.
Relievers can usually guess who’s going to get called upon in certain situations. That wasn’t the case Sunday and Tuesday.
“We just have to be in the tip of our toes and be ready to go at any point,” Tolleson said.
Tolleson pitched the ninth inning Sunday in a non-save situation, but had been warming with the score at 4-1 before the Rangers added an eighth-inning insurance run.
Deposed closer Neftali Feliz worked the seventh and eighth innings Tuesday, and Ross Ohlendorf and Alex Claudio were warming in the ninth in case the Rangers had tied the game.
Though Banister won’t say so, it seems likely that Tolleson would have started warming at the Rangers taken the lead.
“I haven’t gotten any word about that,” Tolleson said. “So far so good. It’s been working so far.”
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760