Texas Rangers

Rangers Reaction: Choo worthy of first All-Star selection, but making team won't be easy

Yovani Gallardo allowed a pair of two-run homers over 5 1/3 innings Saturday in the second start of his second stint with the Rangers.
Yovani Gallardo allowed a pair of two-run homers over 5 1/3 innings Saturday in the second start of his second stint with the Rangers. The Associated Press

The pregame clubhouse seemed more densely populated by media than Texas Rangers players Saturday morning.

The players were there, but just scattered about watching the Korea-Mexico match in the World Cup.

Shin-Soo Choo was decked out in a Korea uniform. Yovani Gallardo wore a Mexico jersey. Jake Diekman, who drew Korea in the World Cup pool, was on Team Choo. The majority pulled for Mexico.

The majority ended up ruling, as Mexico prevailed 2-1. A media member who knows far more than most on soccer wasn't pleased with the flopping the Mexican players were doing, and went so far as to accuse them of doing it frequently when holding a lead.

Maybe, but I thought all soccer players flopped.

That's more futbol talk than rules allow in Rangers Reaction.

Here's some Rangers Reaction from a 9-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

1. Voters for the American League All-Star team have taken Shohei Ohtani's injury to heart. He figured to be the runaway winner in fan balloting at designated hitter, but an elbow injury has him on the disabled list and in third place among DH.

Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez is first, and New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton sits second. Shin-Soo Choo is no where to be found, as the weekly release includes only the top five.

That leaves Choo's fate in the hands of the players and the AL manager A.J. Hinch. If the players have been paying attention, they could give Choo a nod. If Hinch has been paying attention, and his Astros have played the Rangers 14 times already, he could select Choo.

Hinch might be hard to count on. His own DH, even Gattis, sits third in the fan vote. While Choo is having a far better season, Hinch might be included to lean toward one of his own.

But this much is for sure: In a season with only a handful of All-Star candidates, Choo might be the most deserving in his 14th season in the majors.

"I don't think about it, because I had a couple times with a chance to the All-Star team but wasn't selected," Choo said. "I'm not really worried about it. I would be great. Everyone wants to be part of an All-Star team. I'd never forget about it if I made it, but I'm not really thinking about it."

Manager Jeff Banister said that Choo, who extended his on-base streak to 36 games, is deserving. Banister didn't give a rundown of who he believes are the Rangers' candidates, nor did he want to say Choo is the most deserving.

Left-hander Cole Hamels is in the midst of a nice first half overall, and closer Keone Kela is 18 for 18 in save opportunities after getting the Rangers out of a ninth-inning jam. Adrian Beltre is Adrian Beltre, Nomar Mazara keeps driving in runs, and few relievers have been as effective in tight spots as Jose Leclerc.

If no Rangers player is selected via the fan vote or player vote, it's up to Hinch to pick a Rangers representative. Choo will get a look in that scenario.

"He's having an outstanding year. It's been phenomenal," Banister said. "I think he should get strong consideration."

2. Say what you will, but the Rangers are 2-0 this season when Gallardo has started for them.

He was bailed out last weekend as the Colorado Rockies had a meltdown late after getting Gallardo for five runs in five innings. On Saturday, he benefited from a second-inning meltdown by Twins starter Jake Odorizzi as the Rangers scored six times and never looked back.

Gallardo allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings. All four runs scored on two-run homers, in the first and the sixth. He typically doesn't surrender home runs, but Eddie Rosario hit a hanging curveball and Logan Morrison hit a fat fastball.

Mistakes, in other words.

Gallardo was better than he was against the Rockies. It's also a tad easier to pitch with leads of 6-2, 8-2 and 9-2, but he did what he had to do. For the Rangers, that's all they need from him.

And they will need it indefinitely. Yohander Mendez is pitching somewhere in North Carolina, and Austin Bibens-Dirkx is in the Rangers' rotation. The only way Gallardo is replaced is if he is injured or if Matt Moore suddenly pitches like he once did.

Martin Perez will be back by the All-Star break, but Bibens-Dirkx can be optioned and the starter-thin Rangers can't afford to designate Gallardo for assignment.

Gallardo said last weekend that he is out to prove to people that he can still pitch effectively in the majors. He touched 93 a couple times Saturday and made a couple pitches in the few pinches he found himself in.

That spot in the rotation isn't as good as it could be, but it's better than what it was.

3. Not a lot of news came out of the pregame chat with the manager, but he did confirm that Isiah Kiner-Falefa will make his second career start at catcher.

The first one ended with a bang, as he threw out Hunter Dozier trying to steal second for the last out of the game. Rangers pitchers allowed only two runs with Kiner-Falefa putting the fingers down.

It was a remarkable development for Kiner-Falefa, who was at Triple A Round Rock to continue the transition to catcher. When he was promoted in early April, it was to be only an infielder and to be a serviceable emergency catcher.

He continued to catch bullpen sessions and do catching drills, but the Rangers were still unsure if he could be a reliable big-league catcher. They are still wondering, but with the Rangers in "development" mode, it won't hurt if Kiner-Falefa ends up catching a few games until Carlos Perez (sprained ankle) is ready to go.

He could be this week.

The thought here, though, is that Jose Trevino should have remained on the roster. Two weeks without everyday catch duties at Double A Frisco wouldn't have hindered his development. Two weeks in a big-league environment probably would have helped his development.

Some believe that Trevino's defense is as good as many catchers in the majors right now. The bat needs work, despite his game-tying and game-winning hits last weekend.

For it to get better, he needs regular at-bats. He can get those at Double A, not with the Rangers.

But two weeks of missed at-bats wouldn't have hindered his development.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram