Texas Rangers

‘He’s the best player in the game. The guys behind him aren’t’

The baseball scheduling gods have blessed those of us who want to watch Texas Tech play in the Final Four with a Saturday day game and a brewery across the street from Angel Stadium that will have the game on its televisions.

This stroke of good luck isn’t like winning the lottery, but no one is going to complain.

Michigan State will be a tough test for the Red Raiders and coach Chris Beard, who was on the short list of fallbacks a few years ago had Jamie Dixon not accepted the job at TCU.

He did, and now he’s not going to UCLA. TCU brass told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that they are relieved and that Dixon is happy to not be leaving. Conspicuously missing from the story, though not for a lack of effort by Drew Davison or Mac Engel, is Dixon saying how thrilled he is.

Maybe it’s just me (it’s not), but there might be some awkward moments ahead over at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.

The guess here is that Dixon, from North Hollywood, was a Dodgers fan growing up. Maybe that would have been different if they had had a player like Mike Trout.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

1. Lance Lynn says that he doesn’t give in to anyone, even if that anyone is the best player in baseball and if the game plan was to make some other Angels hitter beat him.

“I threw the ball right down the middle, and he did what he’s supposed to do,” Lynn said. “He’s got $430 million reasons to hit the ball out of the ballpark. It was a terrible pitch.”

Trout drove a 2-0 fastball over the wall in right-center start the sixth and to give the Angels a 2-1 lead. He connected again, basically to the same part of the stadium, in the eighth off Jesse Chavez on a 3-1 fastball.

Manager Chris Woodward, who saw plenty of Trout the past three seasons while coaching up the road for the Dodgers, said that the Rangers talked about not letting Trout beat them. After falling behind, Lynn and Chavez should have considered punting.

“I don’t think they were trying to throw a ball where they did, but he’s the best player in the game,” Woodward said. “The guys behind him aren’t.”

Woodward meant no offense to the hitters behind Trout in the lineup, Justin Bour and Albert Pujols, but they aren’t Trout. Pujols might have been once, but he’s not now.

The hope, Woodward says, is that the Rangers learn from their mistakes. They only get to face Trout 17 more times this season and 19 times in each of the next 11 seasons assuming he finishes out his 12-year contract with the Angels.

So far in his career Trout has 28 home runs against the Rangers. That’s tied with Oakland A’s designated hitter Khris Davis for the most by an active player.

The Rangers get to worry about Davis next weekend.

2. Lynn, though, was very good in his second start of the season. He wasn’t so good Sunday in his Rangers debut as he allowed seven runs in 5 2/3 innings to the Chicago Cubs.

He tossed seven innings, allowing two runs, to match Mike Minor for the longest outing by a Rangers starter this season. Lynn did so almost exclusively with his fastball, which is his preference.

Were it up to him, he wouldn’t throw any off-speed pitches.

After two starts, and one outing in particular in spring training, it’s apparent that Lynn isn’t going to keep the ball as long as he’s allowed to have it and he’s going to do whatever it takes to win.

If the Rangers don’t win, he didn’t do his job no matter how well he pitched. He didn’t think he had done his job in the first start even though the Rangers rallied to a win after he departed.

He said then he found some things he could build on, and it showed Friday night.

But don’t tell him that.

“I gave up too many runs,” Lynn said. “Other than that, it was good.”

3. The end could be near for right-hander Edinson Volquez, who has a sprain in his right elbow. For someone coming off Tommy John surgery, it’s pretty hard to not assume the worst.

Volquez is waiting to see what comes from a visit next week with Dr. Keith Meister before deciding how to move forward. Maybe he can return by the of May if it’s not too bad.


Anyone want to take that bet?

To Volquez’s credit, he was in a good mood when he spoke to the media. He joked around some and was convincing when he said he’s in wait-and-see mode.

But he also seemed really comfortable with the possibility that another torn ulnar collateral ligament would end his career.

For however long Volquez is out, it appears Adrian Sampson is locked into the rotation. He will pitch in relief this weekend as a tuneup for a start next weekend.

That leaves the Rangers even more thin on rotation depth. They badly want to avoid turning to prospect Taylor Hearn too early in the season, and would almost certainly go with Ariel Jurado if another starter is injured.

Jurado has some MLB experience, though not much of it good, and pitched well Friday night for Triple A Nashville. Hearn is a bigger piece of the future than Jurado.

He’s going to get a chance this season, though it seems not before Jurado does.

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After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.