Texas Rangers

Rangers can’t break their losing ways, but has another pitching prospect been broken?

Rougned Odor is back from the 10-day injured list, and the Texas Rangers were happy to have him back Friday.

So were the Seattle Mariners.

Odor batted five times and struck out the first four. After being fitted for a golden sombrero, Odor’s batting average sits at .149.

Here we go again with another slow start to a season for the second baseman.

Nomar Mazara is another slow starter, though he is shaking off the struggles in a hurry.

He connected for a two-run homer to get the Rangers’ offense going and later singled and doubled in a run on his 24th birthday.

“Nobody believes me that I’m 24,” he said.

It is hard to believe, and so is that the game-tying homer Shin-Soo Choo hit in the ninth inning was the first pinch-hit homer of his career.

Also hard to believe? The Rangers’ on-going road woes.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 5-4 walk-off loss, their fifth in five games on this seven-game road trip.

1. Those who have yet to point fingers toward the Rangers for breaking Taylor Hearn should be commended for their patience. Meanwhile, others have jumped to a big head start.

They can point to a recent string of elbow woes in the minors.

The tightness Hearn felt after his MLB debut could be something minor, which will still cost him time down. It was chilly at T-Mobile Park, so maybe he tightened up between the end of his warmups in the bullpen and the first inning.

Entirely possible.

He certainly didn’t give any indication to the media that he was worried about something related to his health.

It’s also entirely possible that Hearn has significant damage and will need to be have Tommy John surgery. No one will know until after he is examined by team physician Dr. Keith Meister.

If it is the worst-case scenario, well, it must be the Rangers’ fault. Right? There’s evidence support that, but also a flip side to the coin.

They took a strong 6-foot-5 grown man and put him on a major-league mound after watching him all spring and hearing reports from scouts that said he was fine and there were no injury concerns.

Was he rushed to the majors? Maybe, though he would never say that and the Rangers aren’t saying that.

Ariel Jurado was called up from Double A Frisco last season to make a May spot start. Was he rushed? Probably, but he wasn’t hurt.

Hearn himself said that he felt great in the bullpen but lost that feel. When he fell behind hitter after hitter, he said that he was sacrificing velocity to find the strike zone.

Did the opportunity to make his debut cause him to overdo things and overcook his arm? It didn’t seem that way in listening to Hearn review his start late Thursday.

So, who knows?

A serious injury would be another black mark on the Rangers’ recent attempts to develop an MLB starting pitcher. Three prospects underwent Tommy John last season, including 2016 first-rounder Cole Ragans, and more were bitten before that.

It has been fairly well documented that no two elbows are the same, and that as pitchers get bigger, stronger and start to throw harder, some elbows give out.

But what do doctors know?

2. Consider Friday another good step forward for Shelby Miller, who allowed four runs on two 3-1 fastballs to Edwin Encarnacion.

The first, in the third, resulted in a three-run homer that broke a scoreless tie. The second, in the fifth, turned into an RBI single.

“The first two innings were good,” Miller said. “I was in a good rhythm pretty much the whole game. I could take back a couple pitches.”

Miller has pitched at least five innings in his past two starts, which doesn’t sound like much but really is after his first three starts of the season. He was still prone to bouts of inconsistency throwing strikes (he walked five) and seemed to be at odds at times with plate ump Mark Carlson, but he was better.

The Rangers weren’t disappointed to see it after their previous three games.

“I thought Shelby threw the ball pretty well,” manager Chris Woodward said.

But the Rangers needed to see more than five innings with the workload that has been placed on their bullpen. Even though reinforcements came from Triple A before the game, the Rangers chose Kyle Dowdy to work the 11th on one day’s rest after throwing 66 pitches in his first career start Wednesday.

He allowed a single and walked two before getting Mitch Haniger to his a hard grounder to third. Logan Forsythe, though, couldn’t get the ball out of his glove to start a double play.

“If he fields it clean and throws to second, we’re still playing right now,” Woodward said. “It was the right play if he fields it clean.”

3. Don’t expect to see Asdrubal Cabrera before Sunday, unless it’s as a pinch hitter or in a pinch. His left calf is just tight, not strained and not yet so bad that needs an IL stint.

(I’m still having trouble not saying DL.)

The Rangers definitely want him to be ready for their next homestand. He has all six of his homers and 16 of his 17 RBIs at Globe Life Park. Maybe it’s not the end of the world if he sits out the rest of this road series.

With him unable to play, Danny Santana started at first base as Forsythe shifted to third. Santana had one oops play, failing to cover first base on a ball that Miller fielded. Miller, though, ran to the bag for the out.

In running through the possibly roster moves the Rangers would make, the Cabrera injury was the reason I didn’t mention Patrick Wisdom as a candidate to be optioned. He can quickly come back if Cabrera does need the IL.

Also not mentioned was Jeffrey Springs, who hasn’t pitched well so far this season but has impressed with how he is going after hitters. It’s just not working right now as well as things are working for another lefty, Brett Martin.

He was also a candidate to be moved out.

“It was a healthy debate,” Woodward said.

The way things are going, Springs is likely to return soon.

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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.
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