Texas Rangers

Rangers Reaction: No, cynics, Odor's injury is not a good thing.

Albert Pujols tried to help Rougned Odor through a strained left hamstring that forced him to leave the game in the first inning and might force him to the disabled list.
Albert Pujols tried to help Rougned Odor through a strained left hamstring that forced him to leave the game in the first inning and might force him to the disabled list. The Associated Press

A single to start the fourth inning Monday night gave Adrian Beltre 3,060 career hits, good for a tie for 23rd all time with Houston Astros great Craig Biggio.

Just about everything else that involved Beltre felt a bit off.

First up was his play to end the third. He cleanly fielded the ball coming in from third base, but he threw home instead of throwing to first base. There wasn't a force out at the plate, and catcher Robinson Chirinos was pointing for Beltre to go to first.

On the play prior to that, Beltre had thrown high to first base, and Ryan Schimpf was originally called safe before a review showed that first baseman Joey Gallo applied a tag before Schimpf hit the bag.

Maybe Beltre still had the safe call in his mind, or maybe he didn't want to uncork another throw to first. OK.

But he had two more off-target throws to first, one that did go for an error. Even his two strikeouts, one courtesy of Angel Hernandez's typically bad work, were off.

We all have bad nights, some of us more than others. It's just unusual to see it from a future Hall of Famer.

At least he wasn't injured. That wasn't the case for every Texas Rangers player.

Here's some Rangers Reaction from an 8-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

1. Rougned Odor is headed for an MRI tube, which is rarely a good thing, just as it's rarely a good thing when a player walks off the field injured as Odor did in the first inning.

It seems as if the 10-day disabled list is inevitable for the second baseman, who strained his left hamstring trying to get back to first base on a flyball by Elvis Andrus.

"At this point, we do expect that he's going to miss time," manager Jeff Banister said. "I don't expect him in the game tomorrow. We'll re-evaluate and make a decision on anything we have to do after that."

No, it's not a good thing, you nasty cynics.

Jurickson Profar replaced Odor, and infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa was pulled from Triple A Round Rock's game even though he is transitioning to catcher and has barely played above Double A. That further drives home the point that a spot on the 40-man roster is pure gold.

Drew Robinson has played second base often in his career. He has also played shortstop, though not without some trepidation. So it's not automatic that Kiner-Falefa gets the call-up, and if it's not him, it could be first baseman and 40-man ticket-holder Ronald Guzman.

It was in Oakland on Thursday when Odor initially tweaked the hammy while stretching for a force play at second base. That was the seventh game of the Rangers' stretch of 14 straight to open the season, which mercifully ends Thursday with their first day off.

It's not inhumane, but it borders on it. The Rangers are the only team in MLB opening with such a stretch, and it wasn't a cakewalk before Odor was injured.

The Rangers have been concerned that something like this might happen. Monday's game was No. 12 this season to lead the majors.

"It's a tough stretch to start the season," Banister said. "To go from spring training, guys typically -- they're not playing every day. They don't get to play a complete game until the latter portion of spring training. And then you're slammed into 14 straight to play.

"That's why it's been important for us to get each one of these guys down. Obviously, the grind of playing it, but it's what we do. There are no excuses. It's just part of it."

Odor is batting .206 this season, which, technically, is an improvement on 2017. He batted .204 last season in 162 games but had been better of late after a cold start to the season and was batting second because of it.

He's already missed one game this season, an off day last week at Oakland, and appears to be on the verge of missing at least eight more. Perhaps he will miraculously miss a DL stint, but if the Rangers didn't think it was severe, they would have said as much.

Instead, they said Odor will have an MRI on Tuesday. That's rarely a good thing.

2. The beneficiary of the Odor injury, assuming it is a DL, is Profar, who said last week that he is patiently waiting for his opportunity to be an everyday player. He meant everyday player as in not an injury replacement, but he'll have to take what he can get.

"You don't want a teammate to go down," Profar said. "But at the same time, I want to help the team."

And he'll be fine. The six walks he has already drawn in spot duty, including two Monday, show that he is seeing pitches well and has an idea of what he wants to do at the plate.

Unlike the last time Profar received regular duty, early last season, he will be doing it at a position where he is comfortable. He wasn't comfortable in left field, and that might have been an issue as he struggled at the plate.

But don't think of his time replacing Odor as a potential showcase for other teams. The Rangers have a genuine need for Profar, and it outweighs what they could get for him in a trade.

He could be the Rangers' starting shortstop next season if Andrus opts out of his contract and is priced out of the Rangers' comfort zone. Who knows what that is, but, based on their most recent off-season, here's betting it's below the $15 million a year they are currently paying him.

Trading Profar in-season would also rob them of a quality backup shortstop.

Now, if his time filling in for Odor goes well and Andrus either signs an extension or decides not to opt out, then maybe Profar becomes an off-season trade piece.

That sure is a lot of ifs for a player who was never supposed to be in this spot.

3. The Rangers were down 3-1 after five innings, and right-handed starter Doug Fister had thrown 82 pitches. He hadn't walked anybody and had five strikeouts, suggesting he wasn't struggling.

But he didn't come out for another inning. The Rangers didn't announce that Fister was lifted because of an injury, though he might have tweaked something in the fourth inning. An average of 16.5 pitches per inning is only marginally inefficient when the 15-pitch per inning is usually regarded as the target.

"Not a lot of conversation," Fister said. "I never want to come out of games, but there are a lot of factors involved."

The Rangers probably had some numbers that suggest Fister hits a danger zone when at 82 pitches and going through a batting order for a third time, as was the case in his first start against Houston. Banister said that the Rangers believed the game was still in reach and that it was a good spot for Alex Claudio to do his thing.

But if there was or is nothing wrong with Fister and the Rangers don't like letting him go a third time through a batting order in a close game, that's troubling. Doubly so with the health concerns of Mike Minor.

The bullpen is already well on its way to being overworked with the rotation producing only five starts of more than five innings and none more than six.

The decision was made, though, to go to Claudio, the reigning Rangers Pitcher of the Year. He isn't off to a strong defense of his title after six appearances.

Sure, the left-hander can get lefty hitters. He always has. But right-handers have always had success against him, and they went 3 for 3 against him with two RBIs before Banister replaced him with right-hander Matt Bush.

Bush promptly retired righty hitter Zack Cozart, but the Angels had upped their lead to 5-1. The Rangers got as close as 5-2 before the other lefty in the bullpen, Jake Diekman, coughed up three runs in the eighth.

Maybe taking Fister out wouldn't have changed the outcome, or maybe replacing Claudio with Bush against a righty hitter with a runner in scoring position wouldn't have either.

But if it had, maybe a 3-2 game entering the eighth turns out differently.

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