Texas Rangers

Pining for Gallo to play first for Rangers if Guzman is out? Don’t get your hopes up

Adrian Beltre has big birthday coming up Sunday, the Big 4-0.

He did not begin the celebrating early by attending the Texas Rangers’ game Saturday at Angel Stadium.

But here’s something to consider: Perhaps Ronald Guzman was trying to honor Beltre by injuring his right hamstring and going to an area hospital for an MRI.

It would have been a fitting tribute.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

1. While everyone at Angel Stadium was watching right fielder Kole Calhoun crash into the right-field wall, almost nobody saw Guzman pull up lame as he considered turning a third-inning double into a triple.

Calhoun, the Los Angeles Angels’ right fielder, stayed in the game.

Guzman, the Texas Rangers’ first baseman, seems destined for the injured list.

That might not be the case. It’s entirely possible that treatment and two days off, the series finale Sunday and an off day Monday, is all Guzman will need.

But that’s seldom how these things turn out, so let’s assume the Rangers will need someone to man first base for the next, oh, three weeks.

Joey Gallo, anyone? Maybe everyone is the better question.

He opened last season as the Rangers’ first baseman, and moving him from left field would allow the Rangers to call up Willie Calhoun with everyday playing time available.

The Rangers, though, have said repeatedly that Gallo is an outfielder and are resistant to moving him. He’s in a good place offensively, and throwing a new position at him could disrupt that.

Besides, he doesn’t even carry his first-baseman’s glove with him (yeah, he can borrow one) and he took exactly zero reps at first base during spring training.

An easy move would be calling up Patrick Wisdom, who is on the 40-man roster and had some success late last season after making his MLB debut with the St. Louis Cardinals. He didn’t have a great spring, but the Rangers like him.

Matt Davidson could also be summoned from Triple A Nashville, but he would require a 40-man spot that the Rangers don’t have. They could create one by transferring Edinson Volquez to the 60-day disabled list, but the severity of his elbow strain still hasn’t been determined.

The guess here is that Wisdom would get the call but Logan Forsythe would become the regular first baseman. He can still serve as the utility infielder when Elvis Andrus or Rougned Odor needs a day off.

2. Drew Smyly had a better curveball than in his 2019 debut Monday and was able to combine it with an elevated fastball to somehow work take a shutout into the fourth inning.

Mike Trout didn’t miss the elevated fastball Smyly threw to him.

He finally made Smyly pay for all the base runners he had permitted in earlier in the game. The Angels loaded the bases with no outs in the first, hit into a double-play with a man runners at first and second in the second, and again left two on in the third.

Along the way, Smyly’s pitch count again soared as the Angels either drilled fastballs or fought them off as Smyly pitched from behind in the count.

“I think I made improvements from last start. Still not good enough,” Smyly said. “I’ve got to be more efficient. I’m struggling having quick innings, kind of putting guys a way. Sequencing, I think I’m a little too predictable right now.

“Yeah, I gave up the grand slam to Trout, but it seems like every inning I’ve pitched this year has been runners on bases, stressful innings, and up until that home run, I would say that I limited it. That’s a positive.”

Smyly wanted to get the pitch up to Trout, which it was, but he didn’t get it in far enough. He also hit Trout in the second inning, and that might have been what really cost him.

“Maybe I made him mad when I hit him and he ends up hitting a grand slam,” Smyly said. “You don’t want to make him mad. He’s the best hitter on the planet. There’s no denying it.”

The good news is Smyly is keep his sense of humor about him.

3. Adrian Sampson absolutely hates that Volquez is again dealing with an elbow injury.

‘It makes you feel sick hearing about it,” said Sampson, who knows a thing or two about the long road back from an injury.

But the right-hander is next pitcher up to take Volquez’s spot in the rotation. After watching him pitch twice this season, the Rangers look to be in good hands.

Sampson worked 3 2/3 innings Saturday in relief of Smyly, allowing one run five days after allowing one run in six innings again in relief of Smyly.

His slider has been the difference-maker since last season, and it took a fairly labor-intensive off-season to help cultivate the pitch. He didn’t use any fancy data to dial it in, but rather old-fashioned tinkering.

One day in January, it was a different pitch.

“I just feel like I have another weapon,” he said.

It nearly put him on the Opening Day. He joined the Rangers for their fourth game, Monday against the Houston Astros, and pitched that night.

Sampson might be with the Rangers for the long haul.

“If you get an opportunity, you have to run with it,” he said. “They don’t come along very often.”

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After 12 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.