Shohei Ohtani has avoided Tommy John surgery (for now) and is a player for the Los Angeles Angels. That means many of our old friends who cover Ohtani for Japanese media outlets are back in town this weekend.
Many of them spent a good chunk of the past six years covering Yu Darvish. Some were regulars. Some were off-and-on, but they all became friends and are greatly missed by the Texas Rangers scribes.
One of them, Sam Onoda of NHK, absolutely loves Texas barbecue, and he took his crew to Fort Worth on Thursday for lunch at Heim Barbecue. They were very impressed and want more Friday.
Apparently, they’re willing to stand in long lines for it, so Pecan Lodge in Dallas or Cattleack BBQ in Dallas/Farmers Branch could be their next destination.
Love those places and miss those guys.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from an 8-6 victory.
Retirement has never been closer for the future Hall of Famer, it seems. Father Time is about to remain undefeated.
Beltre has a Grade 2 strain in his left hamstring. The scale goes from 1-3, and the typical Grade 2 requires at least four weeks to heal. Beltre hasn’t been placed on the disabled list yet, but if he ends up there for the third time this season, he says he will come off the day he’s eligible or a couple days after.
That’s typical for Beltre, though his thought process is new. He has learned the past two years, with his calf in 2017 and his hamstring in 2017 and 2018, that he can still handle the pain but his muscles aren’t as pliable as they once were.
Getting old stinks.
That’s especially so for a player who expects to play every day. Sitting around for two weeks at a time every couple months isn’t a player’s idea of fun. Beltre didn’t want to be traded if it meant sitting on the bench, but one that could guarantee him significant playing time.
The Rangers probably wouldn’t be the only team willing to carve out a significant chunk of 2019 playing time for Beltre, and they can afford to do so with no prospect at third base knocking down the door.
Jurickson Profar could handle third and deserves a chance to play every day at one position. That’s not as easy to do if Beltre returns and Shin-Soo Choo stays on the roster as the primary designated hitter, unless shortstop Elvis Andrus opts out of his contract (he won’t, barring something unforeseen).
Beltre has said that if he plays in 2019, he wants to do so with the Rangers. A farewell tour might help at the gate. I guess it would be a double farewell tour in the final season of Globe Life Park.
As of Tuesday, it has never looked more like 2018 might be Beltre’s final year.
Getting old stinks.
2. Ariel Jurado pitched six innings against the Angels, which is hard to believe after his first inning.
Of course, the triple play the Rangers turned in the fourth inning helped him bigly (also considered “was huuuuge”).
The Angels were up 6-3 and threatening for many more when they loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth. But they didn’t get anything as the Rangers turned the sixth triple play in team history, 5-4 for those scoring at home.
Jurado is getting some on-the-job training in the second half, and he’s learning that he really needs to throw more triple plays to get him out of bases-loaded jams.
Here’s another lesson, though Jurado probably already knew this one: After a five-run first, a starter’s job becomes limiting the damage.
He did that, allowing only one run in his final five innings, and the Rangers chipped away until they plowed into the lead as the Angels allowed a Joey Gallo RBI double, walked in the tying run, allowed the winning run on a Rougned Odor infield single and saw another run score on a wild pitch in a four-run eighth.
The Angels walked three in the inning and hit another batter.
Jurado also learned the importance of using his secondary pitches so that he can get hitters off his sinker. That goes for games when he’s commanding it and games when he isn’t, like the first inning Thursday.
The Angels weren’t swatting homer after homer in the first, but they opened the game single, single, single, single, single and added a one-out double to score five times.
Kole Calhoun homered to start the second, but that was the Angels’ last run. The Rangers were down only 6-4 when Matt Moore took over for him in the seventh.
They won the game. Jurado deserves a hand in that.
3. Nomar Mazara was back in the Rangers’ lineup after spending more than a month on the disabled list with a sprained right thumb, and all he did was swat a two-run homer in his first at-bat. Not a bad return.
But his return cost Willie Calhoun a spot on the roster. The rookie outfielder was optioned to Triple A Round Rock for what will be two weeks, as he will be among the Rangers’ September call-ups.
Or he might be back Friday. Here’s why:
Delino DeShields celebrated his 26th birthday by taking a 95-mph fastball off his right middle finger in the seventh inning. It was ruled a foul ball, as he was attempted to bunt and had his hand on the bat.
He stayed in the game, though there was a significant delay in the action. There was also some blood oozing out of the finger, and DeShields left as the Rangers batted in the eighth.
Afterward, he was wearing a splint and was told to not talk about it, which could make one think that it’s going to put him on the DL.
If it is broken and DeShields needs to go on the DL, the Rangers could recall Calhoun. An optioned player can be recalled before the mandatory 10-day stay in the minors in case of an injury.
The Rangers could opt Drew Robinson, who plays center field, and leave Calhoun at Triple A to get everyday at-bats through the end of the month. If they were to bring back Calhoun, Carlos Tocci would be the center fielder and Gallo would be the backup.
No matter how it plays out, Calhoun won’t be gone long.