Carlos Peguero has no hard feelings. In fact, the idea of going back to Seattle, where his professional baseball career began with the Mariners, brings only warm memories.
The Mariners signed the outfielder as an amateur free agent in 2005. He was 18 and grateful for a chance to play professionally.
He first got called up early in 2011 but was sent down in July with a .196 batting average and six homers in 143 at-bats. He returned in July 2012 but again struggled at the plate, hitting .179 with two homers.
By then the Mariners’ patience seemed to be running out. In 2013, he came up for two games in April and had two hits, including a homer but spent the rest of the season in the minors.
He was traded to the Royals in January 2014 and hit 30 homers and 17 doubles with 76 RBIs in Triple A. The Rangers acquired him in January as a free agent.
The Rangers open a three-game series Friday against the Mariners in Seattle. Peguero started the season at Triple A Round Rock after narrowly missing the Opening Day roster. He was called up last week and is hitting .385 with three doubles and four walks in five games.
For Peguero, there are no sour grapes as he heads back to Seattle. It’s not in his nature to have any animosity, plus, after 10 years of pro ball, he knows it’s just part of the game.
“I’m grateful they gave me the first opportunity to play professional baseball,” he said. “And now I’m here today. I don’t have to show them what they’re missing. It’s part of the game. I don’t have that in me. I’ll just play my game.”
More than anything, Peguero said, he’s excited to see a lot of old friends he grew up playing with in the Mariners’ system.
Peguero’s start with the Rangers has a lot in common with how he started spring training. He was hitting over .400 and using the entire field to gobble up hits. He’s had a disciplined strike zone so far, being patient and stubborn at the plate, as manager Jeff Banister likes to say.
“He’s strong enough to mis-hit a ball and put it in the outfield somewhere and he’s fast enough to beat out an infield single,” Banister said. “But you’ve got to be able to make contact and not chase. He’s a force for you on a walk.”
Peguero’s size — 6-foot-5, 260 pounds — makes his speed deceptive. He ran down a fly ball at the wall Tuesday, looking at ease the whole way. He was picked off at first but beat the throw to second.
“He’s nice out there,” said Banister, who joked that if he had grown up in Texas, football coaches would have snatched him up. “He’s fun to watch.”
For now, Banister’s only concern about Peguero is his safety.
“If he’s scoring from second base I don’t know if there’s enough distance between home plate and the wall,” Banister joked. “I don’t know if that net will hold him. We ought to get him a rip cord to pull that parachute.”
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760