Texas Rangers

Rangers Reaction: The hits keeps coming for Odor, thanks to recapturing his edge

Texas Rangers’ Rougned Odor, right, watches his second home run of the night in front of Houston Astros catcher Max Stassi during the seventh inning of a baseball game Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
Texas Rangers’ Rougned Odor, right, watches his second home run of the night in front of Houston Astros catcher Max Stassi during the seventh inning of a baseball game Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke) The Associated Press

Adrian Beltre didn’t make it easy on the beat guys Saturday afternoon, nor did we expect anything less.

He starts out giving short, to-the-point answers before graduating to answers with some meat on them. The sessions usually end with him saying he will talk to use in three or four weeks, though he knows darn well we’ll be back at his locker every day until there’s resolution with his trade situation.

After Saturday, I might have to change my tune on if he will be dealt. Before he spoke, my feeling was he wouldn’t accept a trade. Now, it’s 50-50.

The thinking here is that he will accept a trade if he can get assurances from general manager Jon Daniels that the Rangers will re-sign him for 2019. If Daniels waffles, Beltre will reject a trade.

That puts the onus on Daniels to find a deal good enough for the Rangers with the right contender for Beltre. It needs to be a postseason lock, like the Cleveland Indians, instead of a club that might win a wild-card spot.

The Houston Astros are a lock. Daniels wouldn’t, would he? Beltre wouldn’t, would he?

Well, the Rangers don’t have any remaining games this season with Houston after Sunday, when they go for a series sweep, so at least they wouldn’t have to face him in the rival’s uniform.

So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 7-3 victory.

1. When Rougned Odor was optioned to Triple A Round Rock in 2015, one of the main reasons behind the decision was for him to get his edge back.

As one team official put it, the Rangers wanted him to get back to being a, well, seven-letter curse word that starts with A.

A month later, that’s what he was again. He was confident. He played with his chest sticking out. He rubbed opposing teams and fans the wrong way.

That’s what the Rangers are seeing from their second baseman more and more as he continues his surge to relevancy. The player who batted .204 last season and was at .171 in late May is up to .270 after a 5-for-5 night that included two homers — an inside-the-park job and a conventional shot over the right-field wall.

He also raced home for a key run in the ninth on a chopper against a drawn-in infield. Odor is doing it all, and he still contends that he doesn’t feel good yet.

The goal now is to maintain it. While he might be on the verge of making 2017 an aberration, he can’t forget his past.

“I hope he never forgets about those demons,” manager Jeff Banister said. “Obviously, you want him to continue playing with the energy he’s playing with and the approach he’s playing with. However, when you just completely discount what he’s gone through, then he doesn’t stay sharp and maintain that edge.”

Odor said that he has become engrained enough in his new approach and routine that he can tell when he’s back to his 2017 ways. He quickly snaps out of it.

With the help of the two hitting coaches and Shin-Soo Choo, whose remarkable discipline can be of help to any hitter, Odor is able to keep his mind right.

“Just stay focused,” he said. “Stay focused with my plan. Stay focused with every pitch and keep looking for my pitch. When I stay focused on my plan, I feel much better.”

On the inside-the-park homer in the fifth inning, Odor sent a drive into center field. He initially thought it was a home run until he saw George Springer racing for it. Odor hit the jets around first and stomped the gas pedal when he saw the ball carom across the warning track after hitting a section of wall angled to left field.

“When I saw the ball hit the wall, I was like, ‘I’m going home,’” Odor said.

It was the first inside-the-park homer of his career as well as his first career five-hit game. He has nine home runs, five in July and eight in his past 30 games.

But it’s not about the long ball, as it appeared to be last season. It’s about getting his edge back but not forgetting the demons he battled last season.

2. Mixed messages came Friday from the Rangers’ top two baseball people regarding Ariel Jurado.

General manager Jon Daniels announced that the right-hander would be promoted from Double A Frisco to take Cole Hamels spot in the rotation, and then that spot would be resolved going forward.

Banister, though, said that Jurado was in the rotation to stay.

After what he did Saturday, Jurado left no doubt what should be done.

He allowed one run on two hits and a walk over six efficient innings for his first career victory in his second career start. The lone run came on a Springer homer to start the fourth after Jurado retired the first nine Astros he faced.

Jurado came as has been advertised for a few seasons. He worked quickly, used his sinker to keep the ball on the ground, and didn’t give in after the Springer homer or when the Astros threatened in the sixth.

“Really an exceptional sinker,” Banister said. “A very solid night for a young pitcher. A lot of confidence. He stayed with his game plan. There were just a couple moments when he got away from that.”

It’s not dominant top-of-the-rotation stuff, but Jurado will find a place in the rotation if he can command his fastball and work quickly. He said that he was able to keep his fastball down, which he couldn’t do in his MLB debut in May at Chicago.

Jurado has jumped to the top of the class of minor-league pitchers who are knocking on the big leagues. Yohander Mendez is working his way back and is on the radar for a September call-up, but after that things thin out considerably.

When the off-season rolls around and the Rangers try to fill four rotation spots, Jurado and Mendez will get consideration. So will Eddie Butler, part of the return for the Hamels trade.

Why would the Rangers put him in the deal if they weren’t going to give him a chance to be a starter? Seems like a very solid bet for the 2019 rotation to me.

Pending trades and the return of Doug Fister, Jurado looks to be solidly in place for the time being.

3. Delino DeShields is back with the Rangers after three games at Round Rock following his Tuesday demotion.

The same was said then that was said Saturday: The Rangers needed a relief pitcher, and DeShields needed to a different environment to work on some things.

The only way he could return before the minimum 10-day stay in the minors was if he was needed as an injury replacement, which he was after Ryan Rua hit the disabled list with back spasms.

Banister contends that the three days at Round Rock gave DeShields the opportunity to “unplug,” as he likes to call it. Most pulls from the socket happen at the big-league level, but DeShields had to go to the minors because of need in the bullpen.

Rua, of course, could have gone and DeShields could have “unplugged” on the bench.

The discussion in the pregame session with the manager was like the Who’s on First routine. It resulted in one reporter just throwing up his hands and saying he was confused, and he wasn’t alone.

The DeShields demotion wasn’t billed as a short-term thing. On Tuesday it sounded like he was going down as Odor did in 2015. Yet, it was sold Saturday that three days was just what DeShields needed.

He’s back now, though who knows what will happen later in the week when reliever Chris Martin can come off the DL or when right fielder Nomar Mazara is cleared to play.

With trades likely coming, perhaps that can save DeShields from another demotion. But it’s a messy situation that could have been avoided altogether.

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