Texas Rangers

A deeper dive into how Woodward shaped Rangers’ lineup for Saturday vs. Angels

Joey Gallo had homered in two straight games and was tied for the American League lead in walks entering Saturday, but he found himself on the Rangers’ bench.
Joey Gallo had homered in two straight games and was tied for the American League lead in walks entering Saturday, but he found himself on the Rangers’ bench. AP

The lineup Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward posted Saturday morning had a few surprises, namely that Joey Gallo and Asdrubal Cabrera were both getting a day off.

That duo had accounted for six of the Rangers’ 13 home runs this season entering their matinee against the Los Angeles Angels. Left-handed pitching generally doesn’t come into play with Gallo, who connected for the most homers in MLB off lefties last season, and Cabrera, a switch hitter.

They had three apiece as got ready to take their seats on the bench.

Meanwhile, the lefty-hitting Shin-Soo Choo was in the lineup against left-hander Tyler Skaggs, batting second no less. Rougned Odor, a lefty hitter who entered hitless in his career against Skaggs, was batting sixth.

Woodward, though, wasn’t just pulling names out of a hat. The Rangers are going too good offensively for him to pull the old Billy Martin trick.

Here’s how he broke down some of the key decisions.

Choo up, Odor down

The numbers don’t lie. Choo was 7 for 14 lifetime vs. Skaggs, and Odor was 0 for 14. Pretty simple.

“I don’t look at those numbers all the time,” Woodward said. “But when a guy is hitting .500 and a guy is hitting .000 with significant at-bats, it’s kind of hard not to look at those.”

Easy enough.

Odor or Cabrera?

Woodward doesn’t want to drive the regulars into the ground early in the season, and he has planned days off for just about all of them. Odor’s is coming soon.

Woodward said that he initially considered giving Odor the day off Saturday, but he deferred to the wishes of the 33-year-old veteran in his 13th season.

Old age comes with some privileges.

“I think Cabrera would rather have the day game after the night game off,” Woodward said. “Originally I had Roogie. He’s the one guy who I think could play every day, but I still want to make sure we don’t burn him out.”

Gallo, too?

Gallo entered the day ranked in the top 10 in the American League in five offensive categories. He was tied for the lead in walks with nine.

But, true to his plan, Woodward stuck to a day off despite Gallo’s power numbers against lefties. With only right-handed hitters on the bench, it became Gallo’s turn to sit for the good of the team.

“I’m not trying to stop Gallo’s success by any means,” Woodward said. “He does need a day off. The groin thing is there from spring training. I don’t want anything to linger. If have a chance to get him off his feet for a day, use it. We need him for the rest of the year.”

Forsythe, Pence play

Logan Forsythe and Hunter Pence won’t play only against lefties this season, but the righty-hitting bench pieces will play against most lefties.

Forsythe would have played second base had Odor sat, and will play their when Odor does finally sit. But Forsythe has plenty of experience at third.

He and Pence could also play this week at Arizona if lefty Robby Ray gets one of the two starts.

DeShields leads off

Delino DeShields received some positive reinforcement from Pence to remind him not to worry too much about his slow start.

DeShields entered Saturday batting .143, and his last two hits have been and infield single and a bunt single. But he has reached in seven of his eight starts this season thanks to a steady eye at the plate.

He also leads the team in steals, and his speed Friday on his bunt hit led the Angels to throw the ball all over the place.

“A snowball fight,” Woodward said.

DeShields historically hits lefties well, and the Rangers need him to get going.

“If he gets going, it changes our entire offense,” Woodward said. “We have his back. He needs to understand that.”

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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.