BOSTON Delino DeShields won the game Wednesday for the Texas Rangers with his range defensively in front of the fabled Green Monster at Fenway Park, and he tried to pad the Texas Rangers’ lead with an eighth-inning steal of third base.
He is a winning piece right now for a team that needs as many of them as it can get. He was given an opportunity to perform and has seized it.
As a result, DeShields has become a regular in the Rangers’ lineup. Once their No. 9 hitter, he now bats second part-time. Once thought to be best in center field, he has shown he can be a defensive asset in left field.
He was back there Thursday as the Rangers closed out their three-game series against the Boston Red Sox. The return of Josh Hamilton will affect how often he plays going forward, but he has forced club brass to consider ways to get him in the lineup.
“He’s earned that,” manager Jeff Banister said. “He’s made the most of the opportunity he’s been given, and now he’s earned the chance to play more.”
DeShields said he isn’t surprised by his successes, which aren’t limited to his blazing speed.
Sure, he leads the Rangers with 11 steals and is first in the majors in stole-base percentage among runners with at least 10 attempts, but he also was batting .364 in h is last nine games for a handy .271 average entering Thursday.
This from a player who .236 last season at Double A Corpus Christi in the Houston organization.
“I always had faith in my abilities and what I bring to the table,” DeShields said. “It was just someone giving me an opportunity.”
He came the Rangers in the Rule 5 draft with the label of not having a good work ethic. That has been dispelled by how the way he worked when he was stuck on the bench has translated to his on-field performance. He also didn’t want to be returned to the Astros.
“If they didn’t want to take a risk on me, I didn’t want to go back there,” DeShields said.
He’s a mature player who grew up as the son of a major-leaguer, and he has impressed with his coachability and baseball IQ as a big-league rookie.
“If anything, it has heightened my play,” he said. “I feel more mentally prepared. It’s the big leagues. You don’t want to be embarrassed.”
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760