The second half begins Friday night for the Texas Rangers, and manager Ron Washington will have two more options at his disposal.
Catcher Geovany Soto, who has missed the entire season after a knee injury during spring training, has rejoined the team and will catch Yu Darvish against the Toronto Blue Jays at 6:05 p.m. Friday.
The Rangers also recalled catcher J.P. Arencibia, who has been with Triple-A Round Rock the past couple of months working on his swing.
Arencibia, however, will be used primarily at first base and designated hitter.
First baseman Carlos Pena has been designated for assignment to make room for him. Soto fills the spot vacated by relief pitcher Jason Frasor, who was traded to the Royals on Wednesday.
“It feels good,” said Soto after working out with the team Thursday afternoon at the Rogers Centre. “I worked really hard to get back and I’m ready to help my team win.”
Soto, who hit .254 with nine homers and nine doubles in 54 games in 2013, said it has been tough to watch his team struggle during the first half. The Rangers have the worst record in the league at 38-57.
“You want to help your team but you can’t because you’re hurt,” he said. “All I can do is work hard and try to get back as quick as possible and try to win some ballgames, or at least be in the battle out there with my guys.”
Catching Darvish, he said, isn’t a concern.
“I think it’ll be like riding a bike,” he said. “Once I see him down in the pen it’ll come back to me.”
With the return of Soto and Arencibia, the Rangers have four catchers on their 25-man roster, including Robinson Chirinos and Chris Gimenez.
Arencibia found himself
Arencibia said the time spent in the minors helped him rediscover his swing.
“There were physical adjustments and things that were made, but I think it was more the mentality of getting back to myself and not worrying if I take a bad swing or strike out or don’t get the job done,” he said.
He divided his time between catcher, first base and DH to get more at-bats and it paid off. He had 14 home runs and 41 RBIs with a .279 batting average in 48 games since being sent to Round Rock on May 20.
“It gives us a bat we can put in that lineup to help, a dangerous bat, a bat that can make a difference,” Washington said. “The first base part of it is going to be ongoing. We’re going to work with him and we certainly will get him better. If he wants to work we’ll get him better. But the thing is we need his bat.”
Consistent plate appearances helped Arencibia, Washington said.
“He wasn’t swinging it like that up here because he wasn’t getting consistent paying time,” he said. “So we need to get him some consistent playing time and get him going. He’s had some at-bats and swung the bat down there well. We just want him to come up here and swing the bat, and it doesn’t all have to be out of the ballpark. We just want him to give us some production.”
“We weren’t playing very good baseball, hadn’t been for about a month. We, obviously, have been hurt by the injuries, that much is clear. If we had stayed healthy, I believe this club could have contended. That being said, it’s more than just the injuries. The group that we have is capable of playing better than we have been, and I think they will. I think we are capable of playing a better brand of baseball. Hopefully the time off recharged the guys.” — Rangers GM Jon Daniels