This is a reason why Nomar Mazara is called The Big Chill.
The right fielder entered Tuesday riding an 0-for-15 skid and stranding runners left and right, and that led to three reporters surrounding him at his locker at Oakland Coliseum.
Mazara wasn’t oblivious to the lack of hits and abundance of missed RBI chances. While fellow Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo has enjoyed good fortune at the plate, Mazara believed that his slump was due in part to bad luck.
Mazara, who turns only 24 on Friday, continues to exude maturity and an understanding of the game beyond his years. He knows he traditionally is a slow starter and will be just fine this season.
The key for Mazara was how he was feeling at the plate — really good. The hits, he said, were coming.
He was right.
“I’ve been feeling good since Day 1,” Mazara said. “I think the only series I felt off was the last one against Houston. You’ve got to be tough and welcome it. I’m not going to put my head down. I’m going to keep working harder.”
Mazara was back in the lineup Wednesday and swatted two solo homers as the Rangers tried to avoid a sweep to the Oakland A’s, but Chad Pinder singled in Stephen Piscotty with two outs in the ninth inning for a 6-5 walk-off win. The A’s beat Mike Minor and Lance Lynn in the first two games of the series and collected the winning hit off Chris Martin.
Mazara was batting only .203 after his two-hit game Tuesday but looks to be on the right track.
“The game’s hard,” manager Chris Woodward said. “Nobody’s panicking about Mazara.”
Especially Mazara. He said that he hasn’t been chasing pitches out of the strike zone and has been making solid contact, only to see balls head directly to well-positioned fielders.
But he found the left-center gap in the first inning Monday to bring home Elvis Andrus and found the hole between first and second in the ninth. Mazara is staying strong between the ears during a sluggish opening month.
“I think my mind is stronger than what I thought it was,” he said. “I still show up every day and work like I’m hitting .300. It’s not affecting me. The feeling I have at the plate is all I care about, and I feel pretty good. I’m putting good swings on the ball, but I’m not getting any hits.”
As is the case with multiple players so far this season, Mazara said that he has been buoyed by the positivity that oozes from Woodward and the rest of the coaching staff.
“When you’ve got people around you that want you that want you to be better, not as a player but a person, too, and not be better, be great at what you do, that’s a huge difference,” Mazara said. “That matters, especially since we’ve got a lot of young guys here.”
Rangers hitters have more information than past seasons, and they are holding daily hitting meetings that Mazara said are bringing the team closer together. The hitters are looking forward to the time when they all find their rhythm together.
The offense is doing fine with only a few hitters going well consistently.
“It’s going to be fun,” Mazara said. “It’s fun right now, but can you imagine when we all at the same time are hot? It’s going to be dangerous, man.”