Major League Baseball doesn't come with a rewind button, manager Jeff Banister said on Friday afternoon. Outfielder Ryan Rua said the same thing, but curbed it.
"We'll never know," he said. "Or maybe we will."
The latter could very well prevail.
Rua has emerged as the apparent everyday left fielder for the Texas Rangers in 2018, a job he won three years ago only to see his chance end with a broken bone in his right foot and a sprained right ankle.
In their "not all-in" season, when they need to know which young players are worth taking with them the next time they are all-in, the Rangers need to know about Rua once and for all.
Now, it's on him to keep the job.
"Ryan Rua has earned the right to play left field for us and continue to play left field for us," Banister said. "Does that mean 80 percent, 70 percent, 60 percent? A lot of this game, you like to think, is meritorious, too. If a guy goes out there and continues to perform and produce and be a productive player and help teams win, they get playing time."
Nothing is etched in stone with less than a week remaining until the Rangers open the season, Thursday against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park.
Banister told the media that Rua is on the team, something they have yet to tell him. They did tell Rule 5 outfielder Carlos Tocci that he is on the club, leaving Drew Robinson to wonder where he will be on Opening Day.
If the Rangers go with a seven-man bullpen, Robinson will be the second outfielder on a four-man bench. If they go with eight relievers, which is easier to do with Rua not needing a platoon partner, Robinson will open the season at Triple A Round Rock.
Banister said that Robinson hasn't had the best numbers this spring, but all of the necessary components to have a good season are in place. The same goes for Rua, who since 2015 has been a Cactus League terror but is having the first down spring of his career.
But the vision of Rua getting injury while leaping into the left-field wall at Globe Life Park during the 2015 home opener has stuck with some in the organization. Rua has never been given his everyday job back, and there is some curiosity to see if he can be an MLB regular.
"It's still in the back of my mind, what could have been," Rua said.
The chance might not have lasted long, just as the opportunity he had last season that eventually fizzled. But the Rangers like his versatility — he can play all three outfield spots and first base, and third and second in a pinch — and athleticism and right-handed power.
The belief is that Rua is a more complete player than the right-handed portion of a left-field platoon with Robinson. Willie Calhoun entered camp as the odds-on favorite for the left-field job, but he was optioned to Triple A two weeks ago to get steady work on his defense.
"Ryan has been a good player for us," Banister said. "We like his skill set. He's on our club, and he will play. I look forward to him going out and performing to help this ball team win. He has been a strong part of the last three years. I like having him on the team."
The belief internally is that Rua is better than his .246 career average says he is. He also has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining, so he could become a nice value if he can be productive.
The Rangers are determined to find out, it seems, in their "not all-in" season. Rua looks as if he will be their everyday left fielder.
"That's something we're talking about," Daniels said. "I think he has demonstrated that it's easier for him to get going when he gets in a rhythm of playing on a regular basis. Do you give him an opportunity at more regular playing time?
"I think he gets a little overlooked sometimes. He's lost some time with injuries. I don't think his track record at the big league level is a very representation of what he's capable of because he's been in a really challenging role. There are a number of folks who think he's capable of more than that."