Rangers first baseman Kyle Blanks is just thankful to be back in the big leagues. After a tough spring training trying to recover from Achilles’ injuries in both ankles and then a slow start at Triple A Round Rock, Blanks was in Arlington for the first time for the Rangers on Wednesday.
He started at first and will help fill the void while Mitch Moreland recovers the next two weeks from elbow surgery.
“It’s definitely a good feeling for me overall just to be healthy enough to be here,” said Blanks, who was hitting .327 (17 for 52) with three homers and 11 RBIs in 16 games with the Express. “I attribute a lot of that to the help I got in spring. A few things this off-season that got me where I’m at and just pretty much thankful to be on the field.”
He struggled early with Round Rock, starting the season 0 for 12. But he’s batting .425 since and had four multi-hit games. Blanks credited Express hitting coach Justin Mashore for helping him find his swing.
“Took a lot of work. Spent a lot of time working with our hitting coach down there. Just found something that worked. Finally clicked,” he said.
Blanks has seen major league action the past six seasons, including 26 games with the Padres and A’s in 2014. He’s a career .234 hitter with 30 homers, 37 doubles and 105 RBIs in 260 major league games. But he’s battled several injuries and was sidelined for the first couple of weeks during spring training after signing with the Rangers in December.
He’s healthy now, at least healthy enough to play, he said.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be 100 percent of what I’d like to be,” he said. “It’s never fun but at the end of the day it’s never been a question of talent or what I’m capable of doing on the field. It’s just a matter of staying there [healthy]. Ultimately, it’s been a long road with a lot of lessons but it’s put me here and it’s definitely a good place to be.”
Choo sits again
Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo was out of the lineup for the second consecutive night Wednesday to help him snap out of an 0 for 20 slump. He was nearly used as a pinch hitter in the ninth Tuesday and was on deck when the final out was recorded.
Manager Jeff Banister said Choo is likely to be starting again soon, perhaps against Oakland on Friday. Choo has been working with hitting coach Dave Magadan and studying video of his swing.
“Saw him earlier today. Saw energy in his step. Seems to be feeling good,” Banister said.
Choo said his struggles are more mental than mechanical.
“Mechanics are pretty much the same. Baseball everything is mental,” he said. “We have to fight the pitcher one on one but if there’s too many things in your mind it’s hard to fight the pitcher. [When you’re] not doing well people talk about everything. I tell myself I don’t want to show [the pitcher] I’m struggling. Every at-bat, every pitch I try the best I can. That’s all I can do.”
Lewis goes Friday
Colby Lewis (1-2, 3.75 ERA) is scheduled to start against the Athletics’ Scott Kazmir on Friday. Nick Martinez (2-0) and Yovani Gallardo (2-3) are slated to start Saturday and Sunday. Left-hander Ross Detwiler (0-3) is scheduled to start the opener at Houston on Monday.
▪ Mitch Moreland had one bone chip removed from his left elbow Wednesday morning. Moreland was put on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Tuesday.
▪ The Rangers designated outfielder Alex Hassan for assignment to make room for Blanks on the 40-man roster. The Rangers have 10 days to trade, release or outright Hassan to the minor leagues.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760