The belief around baseball is that the second game after the dreaded two-time zone jump from west to east is the one in which fatigue really shows up. If so, the Texas Rangers might have an edge Saturday on the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners didn’t arrive to the Metroplex until 4:30 Friday morning after a 16-13 night game at San Diego. They didn’t get to their hotel until many people were waking up to go to work.
Maybe general manager Jon Daniels will send college frat bro A.J. Preller, the Padres’ GM and former Rangers assistant GM, a case of beer or a gift card to Great Clips for not giving the Mariners a break on the schedule.
The thing about Friday’s game is that Mariners starter Taijuan Walker didn’t have to endure the overnight flight. He was the most rested player on the roster, having flown in ahead of the team, but was no match for the Rangers.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 7-3 victory.
1. Rougned Odor returns from suspension Saturday and, presumably, will return to the Rangers’ lineup at second base. The Rangers don’t need to make a roster move, as they have been playing with 24 players.
So, Jurickson Profar is almost certain to be on the roster, and he should be in the lineup. The time has come for Prince Fielder to sit out a couple games.
Manager Jeff Banister didn’t say it outright after Profar homered and made a remarkable diving catch at second base, but Profar could be a lineup regular in the short term.
“What he’s done for us in the absence of Odor has really been exceptional,” Banister said. “He’s making a really strong argument for himself.”
The Rangers don’t have many options with Fielder, who is batting .187 after going 0 for 3 with a walk.
They can’t send him to the minors. They can’t release him. Well, they could, but they’re not going to throw away that much money. No one is going trade for him and that contract.
The only option is to let him sit down, like Ian Desmond did earlier this season and like Shin-Soo Choo did coming out of the All-Star break last season. It worked wonders for them.
Fielder hasn’t really hurt the Rangers too much, but he did Friday when he swung a and popped a 3-0 pitch to left with runners at first and second and no outs in the fifth. Even Mariners catcher Steve Clevenger clapped his approval, as starter Walker was clearly on fumes.
The Rangers didn’t score in the inning.
Walker then walked Ryan Rua to load the bases with one out before striking out Mitch Moreland. Moreland probably needs to sit, too, but at least he brings defense.
Although it’s tough to sit an accomplished player like Fielder, it’s also got to be tough to let an accomplished player like Fielder continue to struggle without trying something different.
With Profar’s bat as hot as it is, here’s the Rangers’ chance.
2. The pitching lines from last weekend and Friday night would suggest that Yu Darvish’s first start after Tommy John surgery was the better of the two.
He allowed one run in five innings to Pittsburgh, and three runs in 5 2/3 innings to Seattle.
But many thought that his second start was better, and Darvish seemed to agree.
Here are a few reasons why:
He didn’t feel that he was at his best physically. All starters have games like that, and the challenge is trying to figure out a way to get outs. Darvish did that at a more efficient rate against the Mariners than in his first time out.
The Mariners are no slouches at the plate, either, at least not right now. They were coming off a stunning 16-13 victory Thursday in which they trailed San Diego 12-2 after five innings, and had scored 16 runs only two games earlier.
Despite feeling off, he produced a 99-mph fastball, the fastest of his career. The velo was still there even though he featured more off-speed pitches to keep the fastball-loving Mariners in check.
He admitted that after facing Pittsburgh he was toast mentally, but on Friday he wasn’t happy when Banister came out of the dugout and signaled for Tony Barnette in the bullpen. Darvish wanted one more batter, an indication that the competitive juices are flowing.
Darvish gets Houston next week on normal rest. That could be his toughest test, not because the Astros are on of the league’s hottest teams but because he will be on four days’ rest for the first time since his final rehab start.
3. Michael Young is headed to the Rangers Hall of Fame, a layup choice even if he once, in essence, called his general manager a liar. He now works for that GM, Jon Daniels, as a special assistant and is happy to still be in the game without the demands of traveling.
But twice Young was miffed when asked to switch positions, in 2009 to third base for a rookie shortstop named Elvis Andrus, and in 2011 to designated hitter/first base for a free-agent third baseman named Adrian Beltre.
Andrus and Beltre preceded Young on Friday in the interview room, and both talked about the awkwardness they might have felt coming into their situations. As expected, Young was a total pro.
“I needed for him to let me know it was OK,” Beltre said. “We all know what the situation was. I was not going to be comfortable if he wasn’t comfortable with that. It made it really easy for me. It was the final straw to say, ‘I want to come here.’”
Andrus had a similar recollection.
“The first two days of spring training, I was super uncomfortable,” he said. “But he came to me right away and let me know that there’s nothing wrong with me and whatever happened in that moment was between him and the team.”
Especially with Beltre, Young felt that he had been “misled” by Daniels as his name surfaced in trade talks and after another request to change positions. Young requested a trade, but said the club-fueled notion that he asked for a trade was a “manipulation of the truth.”
Upon being told what his ex-teammates had said about him making their lives easier, Young recalled that he had made plenty of noise.
“I think I’m getting a little too much credit for that one,” he said. “It’s not like I went quietly.”
Young recalled the initial spring conversation with Andrus and how the kid was sucking on a Blow-Pop as Young was trying to smooth things out.
“Stretch is in like three minutes, and I said, ‘You’re already pissing me off. Clean it up,’ “ Young said. “I wish I could tell you that has ended, but that’s the beauty of it. I love him like a little brother and always will.”
Beltre said that Young had the reputation of being a pro and a terrific teammate before he came to the Rangers. Of all that Young accomplished in the game — and he accomplished a lot — he will be remembered by his peers as much for being a consummate pro.