Texas Rangers

This Texas Ranger can’t catch a break: ‘He needs a big giant four-leaf clover’

The tip of Delino DeShields’ right middle finger was fractured in three places on Augu. 16 when he was hit by a 95 mph fastball. He was placed on the disabled list for the third time in 2018.
The tip of Delino DeShields’ right middle finger was fractured in three places on Augu. 16 when he was hit by a 95 mph fastball. He was placed on the disabled list for the third time in 2018. AP Photo

His left hand doesn’t hurt, but something isn’t quite right.

His head hurts on occasion, but he can treat migraines.

As of Thursday, his 26th birthday, the tip of his right middle finger is broken in three places.

As of Friday, Delino DeShields’ vision is 20-20, especially when looking in hindsight and toward the future.

He is also on the 10-day disabled list as of Friday after taking a 95-mph fastball off his fingertip in the opener of the Texas Rangers’ four-game home series against the Los Angeles Angels.

He was out as the Rangers and Angels resumed their series Friday night. DeShields doesn’t expect to miss much time and is hopeful that he will have a strong finish in however many games he will have left upon his return.

That would spring him into the offseason and into next season, when he expects to rebound from an injury-plagued 2018 and return to the form that made him a lineup catalyst in 2015 and 2017.

Once again, he needs to get back to playing to his strengths.

“I’m going to finish strong and go into the offseason with a great mind and address the things I need to address,” DeShields said. “Just get back to doing what I was doing before my first injury. Up until now, everything got sidetracked. I don’t know if I’m overcompensating. I have some time to address those things and get back to being me.”

In addition to the injuries — a broken hamate bone in his left hand in the second game of the season, neck stiffness and migraines from a July tumble at Boston, and a heater off his middle finger — DeShields has been too stubborn for his own good.

He wants to be great, for which he should maintain his stubbornness, but he admits to having difficulty taking the advice of others. Manager Jeff Banister, third-base coach Tony Beasley and his father, former player Delino DeShields, have told him to stay within himself.

DeShields, meanwhile, has skipped some steps while trying to make significant improvements in some areas. He now realizes that his way wasn’t the best way and that he needs to build off the foundation of what makes him successful.

Putting the ball on the ground. Using what rates as elite speed to create havoc. Continuing to play solid defense in center field.

While he wants to be the best leadoff hitter in the majors, DeShields can’t do it by trying to emulate Rickey Henderson or other greats atop the lineup. He has to do it within the tools that he has.

“I have to be me,” DeShields said. “I feel like eventually it will happen. I’ve just got to be patient. I have faith in myself. I know things are going to be all right.”

Thing were great in spring training, when it appeared DeShields was primed for his best season. But he broke the hamate bone in his left hand in only the season’s second game, March 30, and missed 20 games.

The Rangers went 6-14 without him.

DeShields returned much earlier than anticipated. Though his average peaked at .308 after the first 13 games following his DL stint, DeShields entered a tailspin that eventually led to a brief demotion to Triple-A Round Rock.

He returned quickly after an injury to Ryan Rua (back) only to be put on the seven-day concussion list with what was eventually diagnosed as migraines. He returned Sunday but is back on the DL.

“He needs a big giant four-leaf clover,” manager Jeff Banister said. “I think it’s going to make him tougher in the long run. He hasn’t been able to create any real consistency.”

“It sucks. It’s kind of just one of them years,” DeShields said. “I worked really hard. These things just keep happening, these freakish things. I’ve just got to take it with a grain of salt and keep on moving, keep on grinding, and try to stay positive.”

The numbers show the season he’s had offensively — .204 average, a .303 on-base percentage and a .275 slugging percentage. But his defense in center field has allowed him to be a 1.1 WAR player.

He can rally around his defensive improvements and his work ethic trying to work through his plate funk. DeShields still believes that he will be an impact player consistently down the road even though the Rangers’ top two prospects (Leody Taveras and Julio Pablo Martinez) are center fielders and Drew Robinson has had a nice season at Round Rock.

DeShields, though, has shown that he’s not afraid of a little spring competition. And his mind seems to be in the right place.

“It’s simple if I make it simple,” he said. “But a lot of times I make it very complicated because I want to be the best and I want to be great at what I do. I tend to look at different guys, even though we’re all different kinds of players. I need to have a model of who I am, what that looks like and just stick with it.”

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