Willie Calhoun was in Texas Rangers minor-league camp Saturday morning and was scheduled to be part of the traveling party to Nashville later in the day for a Sunday exhibition.
Music City will be Calhoun’s final destination following his Thursday demotion, made official Friday, to the Triple A team. That has provided a different kind of journey for the 24-year-old outfielder.
The Rangers’ decision to not put him on their Opening Day roster wasn’t easy for Calhoun to hear. His head was swirling a day later, but by Friday night he had locked in again.
Calhoun is going to Triple A fully aware that the hard work he put in over the off-season must continue. He called manager Chris Woodward and general manager Jon Daniels, as well as teammates Elvis Andrus, Nomar Mazara and others, to tell them as much.
“I just let them know where I’m at mentally,” Calhoun said. “They were supportive of it. I told them I’m not going to let my attitude affect how I go down to Triple A. I’m going to go down to Triple A and be a good teammate and hustle and do everything I can to get back up here.”
Woodward and Daniels understood that Calhoun would be angry after changing his lifestyle and transforming his body to become a better ballplayer. Their point, though, was that everyone works hard and has dealt with adversity in the game.
Calhoun was within his rights to not report Friday, as players who have been optioned are given 72 hours, but Woodward felt that Calhoun needed to accept the decision and move forward in a more professional manner.
Woodward and Calhoun have a long relationship dating to their time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Woodward heard what he needed to hear when Calhoun called Friday night.
“I was really really proud of him for reaching out,” Woodward said. “It meant a lot. At the end of it, I was really excited, because I was concerned. I know he was seeing red a couple days ago. He had every right to be seeing red, but when you come out of it and you a logical, rational mind to deal with, what was his response going to be?
“That’s what I was looking for, and when he reached out to me it showed this is the kid I thought he was. He’s a good kid. I think this will be a learning experience for him for a maturity standpoint.”
Calhoun said that he took an extra day away from the Surprise Recreation Campus to clear his head and adjust his outlook. He was sent to minor-league camp early last spring, and he let the demotion affect him during the first month of the Triple A season.
He came back Saturday saying he is determined to not let that happen again. He also understands that the work he put in during the off-season must continue through the rest of his career.
“I just needed a day,” Calhoun said. “I feel like I needed to take a mental day to detach and regather my thoughts just so I could come back and not do what I did last year and let my attitude affect my play. This year, I’m not going to let that happen.”
Calhoun took batting practice Saturday morning and was scheduled to take some at-bats in a minor-league game before joining the Rangers for their flight to Nashville. The left fielder wants to try center field and right field and was told by Woodward to start taking grounders at second base again.
The more versatile a player is, the better his chances of sticking in the big leagues.
After a 48-hour journey, Calhoun appears to be focused on that goal again.
“At first I was disappointed, but I can’t do anything about it,” said Calhoun, who also spoke to Joey Gallo and Delino DeShields. “I want to be in the big leagues, but wherever I go I have to keep working no matter how hard the situation is.”