Texas Rangers

Rougned Odor returns to Rangers and rookie Isiah Kiner-Falefa happy to assume utility role

Rougned Odor is back in Rangers' lineup

Rougned Odor returns to Rangers lineup from the disabled list. He will play in Friday's series opener with the Houston Astros.
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Rougned Odor returns to Rangers lineup from the disabled list. He will play in Friday's series opener with the Houston Astros.

Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor was activated from the disabled list since straining his left hamstring on April 9.

To make room on the roster, infielder Renato Nunez was designated for assignment. Nunez had six hits and five errors in 13 games for the Rangers. The Rangers open a three-game series against the Astros on Friday in Houston. Odor is in the lineup batting seventh and playing second base.

"I can’t wait for tonight and playing with my teammates, to start helping my team to win games," Odor said. "It was pretty hard. First time I was on the DL, it was pretty hard on me not being on the field. It's part of the game. I love playing the game. I love helping my teammates and being around my teammates."

Odor said he can go 100 percent and agreed it feels like the beginning of a new season for him. He was hitting .206 with no homers and four RBIs in 11 games for the Rangers before the injury.

He was 3 for 17 in five minor league rehab games, including the past three at Round Rock. He had one double, two RBIs and one run scored. He also made two errors playing second base for Round Rock.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister said Isiah Kiner-Falefa earned a chance to stay on the major league roster as a bench player who can fill in at second, third and shortstop. He'll try to give Odor and Adrian Beltre, who also recently returned from a left hamstring strain, more days off. Beltre, for example, may be the designated hitter on Sunday.

"And we’ve got a shortstop who has played every day since we put him at SS so he’s probably going to need a day somewhere along the way," Banister said. "There are opportunities for Kiner to get enough playing time to stay sharp."

Kiner-Falefa has also played some left field in the minors and has experience catching. The Rangers will include some bullpen time for Kiner-Falefa so that he's an option behind the plate, if necessary.

"We like what we’ve seen from him," Banister said. "He’s been very good defensively for us in all three spots. He’s run the bases well, he’s put together some really nice professional at-bats."

Rougned Odor works out in spring training and hopes for a better season this year.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa remains on Rangers roster after Rougned Odor returns from disabled list in time for series with Houston Astros.

Kiner-Falefa is happy to be used where ever the Rangers might need, including as a super utility player.

"I felt like when I had my opportunity, I did what I needed to do, and now I’m just… wherever I play, I play multiple positions, so wherever they want to throw me in the lineup, or be on the bench, I’ll be ready to go whenever they need me," he said. "I’m happy to be here where I am. I worked really hard to get here, and all the skills that I’ve learned in the minor leagues, playing different positions, I think will help me in this role and whatever I do."

Kiner-Falefa, along with Ronald Guzman, have been warmly received by Rangers' fans, many of whom were concerned he would be sent back to Round Rock when Odor returned. Kiner-Falefa isn't aware of the fan sentiment, but is happy, of course, to remain in the big leagues.

"I haven’t been paying attention to that," he said. "It’s definitely cool, it’s exciting. The team is really young, but we have some great veteran leadership in the locker room. It’s awesome to just be in here and soak in everybody’s brains and talk to everyone, I’m just excited for what’s next."

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