Delino DeShields won the game Wednesday for the Texas Rangers with his range defensively in front of the fabled Green Monster at Fenway Park, and he tried to pad the Texas Rangers’ lead with an eighth-inning steal of third base.
He is a winning piece right now for a team that needs as many of them as it can get. He was given an opportunity to perform and has seized it.
As a result, DeShields has become a regular in the Rangers’ lineup. Once their No. 9 hitter, he now bats second part time. Once thought to be best in center field, he has shown he can be a defensive asset in left field.
He was back there Thursday as the Rangers closed out their three-game series against the Boston Red Sox. The return of Josh Hamilton will affect how often he plays, but he has forced club brass to consider ways to get him in the lineup.
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“He’s earned that,” manager Jeff Banister said. “He’s made the most of the opportunity he’s been given, and now he’s earned the chance to play more.”
DeShields said he isn’t surprised by his successes, which aren’t limited to his blazing speed.
Sure, he leads the Rangers with 11 steals and is first in the majors in stolen-base percentage among runners with at least 10 attempts, but he also was batting .364 in his past nine games for a handy .271 average entering Thursday.
This from a player who batted .236 last season at Double A Corpus Christi in the Houston Astros organization.
“I always had faith in my abilities and what I bring to the table,” DeShields said. “It was just someone giving me an opportunity.”
He came the Rangers in the Rule 5 draft with the label of not having a good work ethic. That has been dispelled by how the way he worked when he was stuck on the bench has translated to his on-field performance. He also didn’t want to be returned to the Astros.
“If they didn’t want to take a risk on me, I didn’t want to go back there,” DeShields said.
He’s a mature player who grew up as the son of a major-leaguer, and he has impressed with his coachability and baseball IQ as a big-league rookie.
“If anything, it has heightened my play,” he said. “I feel more mentally prepared. It’s the big leagues. You don’t want to be embarrassed.”
Klein to pitch Monday
The Rangers were waiting to make sure Phil Klein didn’t have any soreness the day after his first big-league start before officially giving him a second start Monday at Cleveland.
Klein, who is from Columbus, Ohio, and went to Youngstown State, allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings Wednesday and was the winning pitcher. He allowed five hits and walked only one.
“Phil Klein did not hurt his opportunity to come back and start again by the way he performed last night,” Banister said.
Klein’s stay in the rotation could extend beyond Monday, depending on how quickly left-hander Ross Detwiler returns from shoulder inflammation. Detwiler is eligible to be activated May 30 but likely will need a few more days.
Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf was promoted from Triple A Round Rock only Sunday, but already he has the confidence of the coaching staff to work late in games with leads.
Ohlendorf pitched the sixth inning Sunday and the eighth inning Wednesday, and came away with two scoreless innings. He could a permanent fixture in the bullpen.
“He’s has the velocity on the fastball with the angle, and he’s not afraid to throw it in or throw it away,” Banister said. “Then the hard breaking ball and the changeup. He’s got three pitches, and he’s not afraid to throw them. He’s not afraid to challenge you either.”
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760