Derek Holland had the luxury of flying home Thursday afternoon ahead of his Texas Rangers teammates so that he can be rested and ready to start Friday’s home opener, the first such assignment of the left-hander’s career.
Holland has never been one to hide his emotions, and as such it might be natural to worry about the excitement of being on the big stage having an adverse effect. Holland isn’t concerned in the least.
He has some moments on the biggest stage to draw upon.
“I’ve never started any openers, so this is new for me,” Holland said. “The way I’m looking at it is I’ve been in situations, big games in the World Series, so nothing’s going to change in my approach or my thoughts.”
His thoughts are to build on his sparkling September, the only month he pitched last season, and to meet his high expectations. Outside expectations have been heightened, too, after Yu Darvish was lost for the season and Holland became the de facto staff ace.
“I have a lot of expectations for myself, and I want to make sure I fulfill them,” he said. “I don’t think the adrenaline is really going to affect me much. If anything, I’ll use it more positively.”
Holland became the starter in the first exhibition game at Globe Life Park on April 3 after time off in spring training for shoulder soreness knocked him out of consideration for the season opener. He has caught up, however, , after throwing 94 pitching Sunday in a minor league exhibition game.
“Everything is where I need it to be,” he said.
Two more position players made their first starts of the season Wednesday, with the right-handed-hitting Adam Rosales and Jake Smolinski starting against A’s left-hander Scott Kazmir.
That left Delino DeShields Jr. as the only position player yet to log a start, but the rookie made his big-league debut in the seventh inning of a blowout loss and beat out a chopper for a hit in his first career at-bat.
“It’s, obviously, pretty cool, but I wasn’t as nervous as I expected to be,” DeShields said. “At the end of the day, it’s just baseball.”
Manager Jeff Banister is planning to keep DeShields engaged. It’s a tough spot for the manager and the developing player who has never been above Double A.
As such, Banister said that DeShields has been told to do things on the field each day to improve and to watch games closely to learn as much as he can.
“We challenged him to play nine innings a night without playing nine innings,” Banister said. “He has to take some ownership of it, too. We can’t assign just one coach to him to follow him around all day long.”
There was no panic Thursday from shortstop Elvis Andrus, who committed four errors in the first three games and was left to admit that the first three games were “tough” defensively.
But Andrus also believes he has had some bad early luck, including a questionable ruling from the official scorer on his first of two errors Wednesday.
“It’s just being a few unlucky days for me,” said Andrus, who entered Thursday with a ridiculously low .765 fielding percentage. “All around I feel really well taking ground balls and throwing to first base.”
The Rangers claimed outfielder Alex Hassan from Oakland and optioned him to Triple A Round Rock. Matt Harrison (back) was moved to the 60-day DL to make room for Hassan, who has been claimed on waivers four times since the end of last season.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760