Manager Walt Weiss finds himself in a tough spot with the highly flammable Colorado Rockies bullpen, having to find the best matchup for an inexperience group to get out of tight spots.
Leading the Texas Rangers 4-3 with two outs in the eighth inning Wednesday, that meant giving Carlos Beltran an intentional walk with two runners in scoring position and bringing in new closer Adam Ottavino to face Adrian Beltre.
The Rangers won 5-4.
Beltre’s two-run single broke the Rockies’ bullpen for a third consecutive game and gave the Rangers their fifth consecutive win.
Weiss is headed for the nearest bottle of Pepto, or maybe something stronger.
The win came about six hours after Prince Fielder announced that his neck injuries are forcing him to stop playing. That was the day’s biggest story, but at least the Rangers left Globe Life Park on a high note.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction and some Rangers reaction to Fielder’s announcement.
1. Jonathan Lucroy was a rookie with Milwaukee in 2010, and Prince Fielder was one of the Brewers veterans Lucroy admired.
Tough. A leader. A talented hitter.
Did I mention tough?
Lucroy did, saying that he learned from Fielder what it takes to play every day and has applied it to his catching duties.
Lucroy, who made his seventh start in nine games since joining the Rangers, had a story to tell after watching Fielder announce that his career is over.
“He told me one time, ‘You better be broken or bleeding not to play,’ “ Lucroy said. “And even the bleeding part was questionable. That’s one thing I take very seriously now. I try to play every day as often as I can, even as a catcher.
“A quick story on a lesson he taught me: We were in San Diego and I was at first base and there was a ground ball hit and I slid into second base. When I did, I went in with my arms up, and Orlando Hudson, he turned two and the ball hit me in the wrist.
“I thought my wrist was broken. He frickin’ crushed me. I got back in the dugout, and Prince got in my face. ‘Luke, are you all right to play? Are you all right to play?’ The trainers were checking on me, my wrist was killing me, and he said, ‘Is it broken?’
“I go, ‘No.’
“He said, ‘Then get your ass out there.’
“I’ve never forgotten that. It’s a lesson on toughness. You’re going to get nicks. You’re going to get in hurt in this game, but you have to play through them and fight through them. I think what he’s done the last few years here is honorable. He’s given everything he’s had until his body wouldn’t let him do it anymore.”
2. Every player faces the end, though most see it coming and get to dictate when, where and how they leave the game. Among the elements Rangers found to be the saddest of Fielder being forced to quit playing is that he didn’t get to make that call.
“Normally when you go home, you want to do it on your terms,” Beltre said. “He was forced out.”
Fielder revealed that he knew that he was going to have to retire three weeks ago, when Los Angeles-based specialist Dr. Robert Watkins put him through a series of tests and read an MRI exam.
Fielder wasn’t able to walk in a straight line.
The Rangers sat on the news, giving Fielder the opportunity to make it official on his own terms. Fielder did so only 12 days after his second cervical fusion surgery.
Beltre said that all players know that the end can come suddenly, as it did with Fielder, so they have to embrace each game and play like it’s their last. Ian Desmond, a father of three young boys, said that seeing Fielder and his two sons added some perspective to how he will see the game going forward.
“The success and failure is what we think about, but it’s about sharing this with our families,” Desmond said.
3. The first member of the Rangers to be acknowledged by Fielder was Tony Beasley, the third-base coach who is batting rectal cancer and will have surgery Aug. 22 to remove a tumor.
Fielder said that he was able to draw inspiration from Beasley and how he confronted his cancer in spring training and how positive he has been despite dealing with something that is truly life-threatening.
Beasley seemed surprised afterward, though he said that he and Fielder had some long talks throughout the season as Fielder struggled at the plate. Beasley made it a point to check in daily on Fielder, who hadn’t divulged his neck issues.
“We just talked a lot,” Beasley said. “As the season started and he had his struggles with the game, I guess he was able to look at what I’m going through and said you can deal with what you’re dealing with a great attitude and enjoy every day.
“We just had conversations about life in general. I guess there’s some things about me that for some reason he admired. I care about every player in here. When those players are going through something and struggling the most, that’s when they need someone to show up and talk to them.”
The Rangers were impressed with how Fielder announced his exit. He didn’t brag about what he accomplish during his 12-year career, and there is a lot to brag about. When it came to baseball, the good times he talked about were the times he spent celebrating championships and how much he enjoyed playing with the Rangers.
That showed in how emotional he was. It was emotional for everyone with the Rangers.
“I think it’s emotional for the entire baseball community,” manager Jeff Banister said.