Woodward on Calhoun: ‘Ball is in his court’
MLB rules allow 72 hours for a player who has been optioned to the minors to report to his team, even if all a player has to do during Texas Rangers spring training is move around 100 steps.
Willie Calhoun, it appears, is pacing himself.
Told on Thursday that he won’t be on the Rangers’ Opening Day roster and officially optioned Friday to Triple A Nashville, Calhoun was either absent from the Surprise Reaction Campus or stashed away in the minor-league clubhouse readying for a fresh start Saturday.
He wasn’t in the lineup for the Triple A game Friday, and he was one of the few players who no-showed a team event hosted by shortstop Elvis Andrus at the local Top Golf. The others beside Calhoun who didn’t make it informed Andrus why they weren’t coming.
And there’s the biggest problem facing Calhoun. The people who determine where he and when he plays are not thrilled with how he is handling things, but he’s also running the risk of losing the respect of his teammates.
“That’s one thing I stressed. I think a lot of people have stressed that to him,” manager Chris Woodward said. “You can hate me all you want. You can hate Jon Daniels all you want, but the respect of your teammates is No. 1. That, to me as a player, was everything.
“If I have any advice for him, and I’ll probably speak to him soon, think of that more than anything. The respect of your teammates is by far the most important thing you’ll ever have as a player. As soon as you lose that, it’s really hard to get back.”
Woodward understands what Calhoun is feeling. Woodward, a career journeyman during his playing days, has felt it many times over and might be running short on patience.
That’s not good.
Andrus, who has taken control of the clubhouse, said that he hasn’t talked to Calhoun but plans to do so. Assistant coach Jayce Tingler and Josiah Igolo, the director of peak performance, both spent ample time Thursday with Calhoun.
He knows what he needs to be doing, but he isn’t doing it.
Matt Davidson, the corner infielder who hoped to make the big-league team as a two-way player, was sent out of big-league camp Tuesday morning. He played nine innings for that Rangers that afternoon.
Left-hander Brett Martin, who turns 24 next month, was optioned out Wednesday and was working out with minor-leaguers Thursday. Calhoun turned 24 in November.
They are the most recent examples Calhoun should be following.
“I understand why he’s angry. I do,” Woodward said. “But at the same time, he’s not the first guy that’s ever had this happen to him, and many have gotten way worse. I’m not trying to make light of it, but you have to handle certainly things in life, like adversity, and handle it the right way and be a professional about it.”
Calhoun said last week that he feels as if he has accomplished all he can at Triple A, having logged 236 games there the past two seasons. He did all that the Rangers asked of him in the off-season, dropping 24 pounds and altering his time away from the ballpark.
The weight loss has made him a better defensive player and base runner, but it’s not like he’s a Gold Glove winner. He’s not a better outfielder than Shin-Soo Choo or Nomar Mazara, and he plays only one position.
Calhoun mentioned to Woodward on Thursday a desire to play other positions, and Woodward is all for it. Calhoun can work on it at Triple A, as soon as he reports.
And Calhoun is going to get his chance to play in the majors this season, but he needs to get back to work and get busy undoing the past two days.
“It’s obviously up to him to make the decision to get in here,” Woodward said. “I love the kid. I can’t wait for the opportunity to bring him back, but the ball is in his court. We all care about him. We all want him to be successful. Nobody is trying to tear him down by sending him down. We’ll support him through it, but he also has a responsibility to take ownership of this.”