Jeff Banister left the Texas Rangers on Saturday to fly to Texas after his mother, Verda, experienced complications from a recent surgery near Houston, and he won’t rejoin the club until at least Monday.
Bench coach Steve Buechele was picked to manage the Rangers for the final two games of their series against the Oakland A’s while Banister is in Clear Lake. He said that he and Banister went over the plan for the two games, as they normally do before each game.
The Rangers all agree that Banister needs to be with his family.
“Our thoughts are with Banny and his mom right now,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “Family is bigger than baseball, and he is where he needs to be. Steve and the guys will keep things moving forward until Banny is ready to return.”
Buechele had never managed a full game in the major leagues before Saturday, though as bench coach he takes over the club after Banister is ejected from a game.
“It’s certainly not under the circumstances you’d want,” Buechele said. “I think We’re all thinking about Jeff and his mom. We know he wishes he were here. We’ll just hold down the fort until he’s back.”
Buechele spent six seasons in the Rangers’ farm system as a manager, beginning in 2009 when he guided High A Bakersfield to the playoffs. He moved up to Double A Frisco the next season and took the RoughRiders to the postseason all three years.
He was also named the Texas League’s best managerial prospect those three seasons, and he would like to be a big-league manager some day.
Buechele had a phone interview with the Colorado Rockies for their managerial vacancy in 2012 before they eventually hired Walt Weiss and also interviewed to replace Ron Washington in 2014 before Banister was hired.
“In the game of baseball, you don’t ever know what will be given to you or afforded to you,” said Buechele, who was drafted by the Rangers in 1982 and played for them from 1985-1991 and against briefly in 1995.
“I feel lucky to have the job I have now. Should the opportunity arise somewhere down the road, yeah, that would be nice. But that’s certainly not on my radar right now.”
Field coordinator Josh Bonifay was likely to be the primary bench coach Saturday, Buechele said, and Triple A manager Jason Wood will have those duties Sunday after missing Saturday’s game to attend a family event in Fresno, Calif.