The last week of August stirs up talk of who will becoming up from the minors when rosters expand Sept. 1.
Teams can have up to 40 players on their active roster, which completely changes game strategy just in time for the stretch run to the postseason. Some will add a bunch, and some won’t.
The Texas Rangers are looking at a adding a handful of players, perhaps as many as six. But the number will be larger than that when they reinstate players from the 10-day disabled list.
Outfielders Delino DeShields and Ryan Rua will back on the active roster for the final month, and so will infielder Hanser Alberto and right-hander Bartolo Colon. Manager Jeff Banister said that Tony Barnette has a chance to pitch in September, but fellow righty reliever Matt Bush might not be ready before the season ends.
The Rangers are tight-lipped when it comes to their call-ups, though it’s safe to assume that Willie Calhoun and Yohander Mendez are two of them. No matter who else gets added, it’s going to be a full clubhouse the rest of the way.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
1. The Rangers were threatening in the seventh inning after back-to-back singles against Derek Holland and had runners at second and third with one out. The Giants brought in another left-hander, Tony Watson, to face pinch-hitter Robinson Chirinos and Rougned Odor.
Chirinos was an easy choice as a right-handed hitter, but Watson struck him out. Odor had homered in the first two games of the series, both instances in the late innings in a tight game with at least a runner on base.
And Odor bunted.
Watson pounced on the bunt, and the inning was over after his throw to first. The head-scratching continued into the postgame clubhouse, where Odor explained himself.
It was what Banister had suspected, that Odor was having trouble seeing the ball and was trying to make something happen anyway.
“It was a little tough, a low angle,” Odor said. “They were playing me really deep. I’m just trying to play the game.”
Banister, of course, wanted Odor to swing the bat in that situation but hadn’t spoken to the second baseman when addressing the media. His suspicions proved correct, and he wasn’t going to second-guess a player who might be having issues picking up pitches.
“I’m not really sure if he was picking up the ball well off of Watson,” Banister said. “Obviously, Rougie’s swinging the bat well and we’d like him to be able take swings at it. But you can’t fault a guy if he’s not seeing it well and he’s trying to be creative.”
2. Odor walked in the third and scored the only run against Holland on a double by Elvis Andrus, who is 9 for 35 in his career on his birthday. Andrus hit a slider from Holland, but swung three times and missed an improved Holland changeup.
Holland, the Rangers confirmed, is a better pitcher than he was last season when they roughed him up twice while with the Chicago White Sox. He improved to 7-8 with a 3.65 ERA after allowing a run on three hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings.
The changeup, which looked like his two-seamer, is one of the biggest differences, along with hitting his spots.
“I haven’t seen him command like I did today,” Andrus said. “He’s always had the stuff. Today he was getting ahead, and that’s what’s been helping him lately. He was being aggressive, too. I think he was running away the last couple years. He threw me a couple changeups, and that was a pitch before he didn’t have too much control.”
Joey Gallo, who had one of the two seventh-inning hits, said that Holland was able to work both sides of the plate better than last season and was throwing harder, too.
“He looked good,” Gallo said.
Holland remains as charitable and fun-loving as he was with the Rangers from 2009-16, though he stepped in some of his own mess Wednesday.
Holland was on the MLB Network show Intentional Talk alongside Giants message therapist Haro Ogawa and resorted to a tired and very insensitive Asian caricature in a skit. It was offensive to many Asian-Americans, and Holland apologized Thursday via a statement and again Friday in an interview.
From the get-go of the fallout, Holland took responsibility for his misstep. He doesn’t want anyone else to accept the blame for what was an inside-the-clubhouse joke that should have stayed inside the clubhouse.
“I want to be held accountable for everything that I’ve done and caused with all of this,” Holland said. “It’s embarrassing what I did. I was just trying to have some fun. I want to make sure it’s clear that was all on me. Now it’s become a distraction to the team. I don’t want that. I don’t want to have offended anybody.”
Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who is from Korea, stood up for Holland. Choo said that what Holland didn’t wasn’t right, but he also knows that Holland is as kind and as open to all cultures as any of his past or current teammates.
“I played with him four years,” Choo said. “He always respected every country in the clubhouse. The first day here, I talked to him a little bit and he was pretty upset.”
3. Adrian Beltre fielded grounders at third base Friday during batting practice and said that he took some Saturday, too. A few of them even tested his range.
But just when it appeared as if his strained left hamstring wouldn’t allow him to play in the field this weekend, and with no designated hitter in a National League ballpark, he started at third Sunday.
He pinch hit in the first two games, walking Friday and striking out Saturday. He’s still seeking the hit that will move him into a tie for 18th all time with Tony Gwynn at 3,141.
Why, suddenly, did Beltre feel like he was healthy enough to play defense?
“Because I want to play,” he said. “I’m always taking chances when I play in the field. Am I 100 percent? No, I’m not 100 percent. But I feel good enough to be out there, and I don’t want to start a game for four or five days.”
The Rangers are off Monday before opening a two-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Globe Life Park. The return home will give the Rangers the flexibility of having the designated hitter.
The expectation is that Beltre will be playing third base off and on the rest of the season, though no one seems to know what will happen after the season. That includes Beltre himself.
The Rangers don’t want him to retire. They will figure out a way to make his return for a 22nd season work, both financially and the juggling act to get him at-bats and time at third base.
But they also aren’t going to press him for a decision. Hall of Fame players earn the right to decide how they will exit the game, and the Rangers recognize that.
His comments last week at Oakland were revealing. If he can’t keep up with the younger players, he’s out. If he thinks he can’t hit anymore, he’s out. His kids are getting any younger.
However, Beltre still loves the game and isn’t sure how he will fill his days without baseball.
Here’s a thought: Playing more baseball.