Texas Rangers

What is Rangers' DeShields writing in those notebooks?

Delino DeShields has kept notebooks of his at-bats and performance off and on the past few seasons. It's on again in 2018.
Delino DeShields has kept notebooks of his at-bats and performance off and on the past few seasons. It's on again in 2018. rmallison@star-telegram.com

Each television broadcast of a Texas Rangers game features 15 cameras or so, so it's hardly unusual when one of them captures something curious happening in the dugout.

The watchful eyes of the beat writers tend to do the same thing during their pregame time in the clubhouse, though usually the golden rule of Las Vegas is strictly followed.

What happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse.

But among the oddities caught this season by one of those dozen-plus cameras and observed by at least one reporter has been Delino DeShields taking a moment to jot down a few notes in his little black baseball notebook.

They are his notes, based on what he feels and sees and does. Without them, he wouldn't be as equipped as he feels he must be each time he takes the field.

They are a glimpse into what a player does behind the scenes, without a bat or ball in his hand but rather a mouse or a stylus or a touch screen.

"I don't like feeling like I'm not prepared," DeShields said. "I feel like if I do this and I put in my work and my time — the results are the results — but if I go out and have a bad day knowing I didn't prepare, I can't live with that."

Actually, there are two notebooks. They don't act as diaries but rather as catalogs of information he will draw upon throughout the season.

One is performance-based — what he's feeling when he's going good and what's he feeling when something isn't clicking. It might be something he felt while hitting in the cage or how his first step felt as he tried to track down a ball in the alley.

"After every game, I write down the things I do well and things I need to do better to reflect back on it," DeShields said. "The days I felt really good, and I can just go back and be like, 'These are the things I did well that day.' The things I need to improve upon, I make a conscious effort to do that. It nails down my focus on what I can do that day to improve on those things I could have done better the night before."

The other notebook is the nuts and bolts of each of his at-bats against each starting pitcher he faces each game. Before he has even taken the field, DeShields has watched video of pitchers and noted how they have pitched him in the past or how he thinks they might pitch him.

Or how they might try to keep him from stealing a base.

The information supplements the more general scouting reports provided by the Rangers. DeShields fine-tunes those to apply specifically to him with what he has seen or experienced.

Each custom-made page comes with a space for him to write notes. Below that are more than enough grids of the strike zone for him to chart what pitches were thrown to him and where they went.

If he gets a hit, he wants to remember why. That also applies whenever he has a bad at-bat. The good at-bats receive a check mark.

"What they throw ahead in the count, what they throw behind in the count, with two strikes," DeShields said. "I just try to be as prepared as I can, so when I get out there, I don't have to sit and wait to see. I've already done it multiple times in my head by visualizing. So when I get out there, it's just go time."

DeShields isn't unique in keeping notes, though usually catchers are known to be baseball's note keepers. He was encouraged to do it while coming up in the Houston Astros organization but said he was one of the few who did it religiously.

Some have a vast collection of mental notes.

DeShields got away from his system last year after doing it some in 2015 and 2016. He entered Saturday with a .293 average and several splendid defensive plays.

His little black baseball notebooks seem to be helping.

"This guy studies as much as anybody we have on the team," manager Jeff Banister said. "Not just his offense, but his base running and defense. He wants to win."