We keep asking the questions and Rangers manager Jeff Banister keeps fending them off like a Dallas Stars goalie. I hear there are two of them, so you make the call on which one.
It’s understandable and Banister’s prerogative to play it close to the vest with regard to Nomar Mazara’s future. Who knows, maybe the rookie outfielder will hit the skids Tuesday night against the Blue Jays and finally start resembling something more closely associated with a rookie.
So far, however, Mazara — all 21 years of him — shows no signs of slowing down. Or, put another way: even if he comes down to earth just a tad, wouldn’t he still have proven he belongs in the big leagues? And in the starting lineup, to boot?
Monday night’s heroics came a few hours after he was named the American League rookie of the month. He couldn’t have put a bigger stamp on the day. First, his go-ahead homer in the eighth put the Rangers up 2-1. In the bottom of the inning, his throw home prevented the tying run from scoring.
Here are three thoughts, including more on Banister’s reply to the Mazara question, after the Rangers’ win Monday night in Toronto:
1. Mazara stays, someone else goes — Perhaps Banister revealed his view of Mazara’s future cryptically during the post-game session Monday night. When asked if Mazara’s big league sample size is now long enough to properly gauge, he said this:
“Mazara has played very well. He’s played really good defense. Let’s let the young man continue to play. We’re going to continue to plug him in and let him play.”
Does he mean Mazara plays until his performance, if it ever does, makes it unwise? Or is he just, understandably, staying away from speculating on what may happen in the next several weeks?
When Shin-Soo Choo returns in two to three weeks the Rangers will have to make a decision. It’s looking more and more likely that Ryan Rua or even Delino DeShields could be sent down instead of Mazara. DeShields’ baserunning mistake in the seventh erased the go-ahead run when he was thrown out trying to tag from first on a fly out to center before Mitch Moreland crossed home. DeShields’ speed, however, makes him a vital addition off the bench, which gives him an edge on Rua. Rua, however, can play first base as well as the outfield. Hanser Alberto, who can play every infield position and play them well, is unlikely to be jettisoned.
2. Hamilton dilemma — To complicate the above scenario even more is the question of Josh Hamilton’s return. Although it’s in doubt right now with knee soreness sidelining his rehab assignment, Hamilton intends on returning to the club, if healthy, sometime this month. With Choo and Hamilton back on the roster, another tough decision will have to be made. Or is it really all that tough any more?
3. On a non-Mazara note — Another tough decision looms with regard to the rotation. A.J. Griffin pitched well again Monday night, holding the Jays to one run one three hits and two walks over six innings. He tied a career high with nine strikeouts, often baffling hitters with a 68 mph curve ball. In five starts, he’s 3-0 with a 2.32 ERA and leads the staff with a 1.00 WHIP (walks and hits per nine innings) and .180 batting average against. How do you send him down or move him to the bullpen when Yu Darvish returns at the end of May? How do you do that to any of the starters, who’ve all been relatively steady? Why do I keep asking questions to no one? It’s late, especially on Toronto time. I’ll let Banister and the Rangers answer these questions when the time comes. That’s what he gets paid to do. Oh, right, it’s coming back to me now, the asking is what I get paid to do.