So far this spring, Rougned Odor is passing every test. The second-year second baseman is leading the team with seven hits, but manager Jeff Banister is more impressed with his attitude.
Odor has shown no letdown despite knowing the starting job is all his with Jurickson Profar out for the second consecutive season with an injury. Odor was back in the lineup on Tuesday for the fifth straight game. He was 1 for 2 with a run scored.
“He’s still going at it hard, he’s still on the bench, he’s still observing, learning, soaking in information, seeing if he can pick up anything from any of the pitchers he could possibly face and the guys swinging the bat and how he should play them,” Banister said. “It’s been a plus.”
Odor was a late replacement Tuesday for Elliot Johnson. The Rangers decided Odor and shortstop Elvis Andrus needed to work together sooner rather than later. Andrus missed the first four spring games with an injury.
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Banister said Odor’s confidence has also come with a more studious approach to the game. That will serve Odor well, Banister said, when pitchers start attacking him where he’s weakest.
“I also see a guy who is paying attention to the game, learning the game because this league can punch back,” Banister said. “This league gathers information, players gather information on you. There’s a lot of exposure of what you can do in this league and what you can’t do. The league is going to make an adjustment on him. It will be a process for him to be able to punch back when that happens.”
Prince Fielder’s swing is starting to gain some swagger. In Monday’s game he singled twice, including beating out an infield single to short. He’s also using the entire field, a sign he’s feeling comfortable at the plate.
“He’s working on finding the barrel,” Banister said. “If that’s him using the whole field, I’m OK with that. More than anything else it’s about seeing pitches, collecting at-bats and finding a rhythm and timing the barrel and baseball.”
‘B’ game Wednesday
The important pieces of the Rangers’ pitching staff will throw in a “B” game Wednesday against the White Sox in Glendale, Ariz. Banister said the club wanted to get Yovani Gallardo in a more controlled environment.
“We control the ups and downs, we can control the number of pitches,” Banister said.
“We needed the slots for our guys to throw. We still have quite a few guys in camp; nobody has left camp. We’re trying to find innings for those guys in a competitive environment.”
Shawn Tolleson and Tanner Scheppers will also throw in the B game. Alec Asher will start the main spring game against the White Sox at 3:05 p.m. in Glendale.