Texas Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo said he hopes to be 100 percent healthy in about a month. Choo, along with pitcher Tanner Scheppers and new bench coach Steve Buechele, helped host a baseball clinic for the Miracle League of Southlake at Carroll High School.
The trio played catch and gave hitting instructions to a group of special needs kids Wednesday afternoon.
Choo, who had his first season with the Rangers cut short by a bone spur in his left elbow, said he’s feeling good. He had surgery in September. He also played with a lingering ankle injury for much of the season.
All in all, it was the toughest season of his 10-year career.
“I think so. Probably worse for injury stuff and my numbers and the team, everything together,” Choo said. “I think all that happening at the same time, that’s what made it hard on the team.”
Choo said he feels at about 70 to 80 percent and expects to be back at 100 percent by mid-December. He spends more than three hours at Globe Life Park working out five days a week.
Choo’s three kids helped him during Wednesday’s clinic. He hopes they learn about giving back to the community.
“That’s why I like to focus on kids,” Choo said. “It’s a hundred times better to show them than [telling them].”
Buechele, who was recently named new manager Jeff Banister’s bench coach, compares the feeling of moving up from his position as manager at Triple A Round Rock to being a player.
“You’re working your way through the minor leagues and making it to the big leagues,” he said. “I feel very lucky. This has been home for a long time, and I’ve had an absolute blast managing for the six years I did it. To get the opportunity to be back on a big-league staff is pretty exciting.”
Buechele had no history with Banister, but the two have discovered similarities in style. They spent an hour getting to know each better on a flight home from San Antonio after Tuesday’s announcement that the Rangers will play a couple spring training games with the Dodgers there in March.
“What jumps out is his passion for the game,” Buechele said of Banister. “He’s like all good baseball people: He has the same convictions about what he likes and what he needs. I think he’s a very intelligent man. I guess all catchers are, aren’t they? I don’t think he puts on a lot of false fronts. He’s a lot like me in that sense. Blue jeans, boots. He is his own man, and I think that’s maybe why we’ve hit it off so far.”
Buechele said his first job as a bench coach at any level will be defined by whatever Banister needs. He’ll preside over the infielders, handle lineup cards and give Banister a sounding board in the dugout.
“It’s defined differently probably by different managers as well. It’s whatever they need,” he said. “I think he needs someone by his side that he can trust. I’ll be the guy who will be by him. [I’m excited] just to be part of a coaching staff that is all pointing in the same direction and being on the same page.”
Scheppers feels good
Scheppers will start a throwing program in mid-December, he said, with hopes of putting an injury-marred season in the rearview mirror. Scheppers, who made just four starts, including the Rangers’ season opener, went on the disabled list for good in June with inflammation in his right throwing elbow. Later in the season he and the club decided he’d return to the bullpen in 2015.
“I would have loved to pitch healthy and showed them what I had as a starter healthy,” he said. “I wasn’t. You move on however, healthy. All you can do is learn from the experience and move on and be better from it.”
Scheppers said he’ll begin his throwing program a little earlier than usual so that he can take it a little slower.
“Everything feels great. I’ll be doing a lot more speed work [as opposed to] endurance. Just kind of getting back in that every day reliever role,” he said. “Should be ready [with] no limitations when spring comes around.”