Texas Rangers

Despite Odor’s prolonged slump to open season, Rangers not considering demotion to minors

One of the quietest places in a major league ballpark on a Sunday morning is the field, outside of the work being done by the grounds crew.

Ballplayers are a rare sight.

There are always exceptions, though, as was the case some four hours before the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays closed out a three-game series at Globe Life Park.

The batting cage had been towed to home plate, and Rougned Odor was standing inside of it taking front flips. Behind him were as many as four coaches and All-Star Shin-Soo Choo.

Anyone wondering if Odor’s slump is related to a lack of work ethic needs to find another conspiracy theory. Maybe it’s the Russians.

Maybe the Rangers have found the culprit.

Odor swatted a two-run homer in the second inning Sunday to snap an 0-for-21 slide, and followed it up in the fifth with an RBI single as the Rangers rolled to a 10-2 win. That could be the start of something for Odor.

The Rangers will continue to investigate how one of their spring MVPs could suddenly go wrong. But one thing that won’t happen is Odor losing his job in the roster crunch the Rangers will soon be facing.

“I don’t think so,” manager Chris Woodward said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked. I always tell guys I don’t judge them but I evaluate them more when they struggled. This is probably the most he’s struggled, and my evaluation of him is as glowing as it was when he was good spring training.”

Odor said that his success Sunday was the result of working on his timing before the game. He admitted to being late on pitches, especially fastballs, that he usually hits.

He was assured during his pregame work that he looked good mechanically, and turned the positivity into a solid day.

“I think everybody would take a day like today,” Odor said. “I do extra work every day, but today we were working on something different. I was just a little bit late.. I was just trying to be on time.”

The lefty-hitting Odor was dropped to sixth in the batting order Sunday vs. Toronto right-hander Clay Buchholz after batting against left-hander Thomas Pannone on Saturday. With the Rangers’ next two games at Pittsburgh under National League rules, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Odor sat Tuesday against lefty Steven Brault.

That would give Woodward a chance to start Logan Forsythe and Danny Santana. They are two of the candidates who could lose their roster spot Thursday as first baseman Ronald Guzman comes off the 10-day injured list.

The Rangers would have to designate Forsythe or Santana for assignment and then hope that they clear waivers and accept assignment Triple A Nashville. Santana, though, can play center field adequately, which could lead to Delino DeShields getting shipped to Nashville.

The Rangers could also go to a seven-man bullpen.

“If guys are having success, clearly you want to continue to ride that out,” Woodward said. “Danny is one guy who I want to see what we’ve got. He’s got to prove to make sure it’s real, but he’s had a ton of success for us. He provides a lot of value.”

General manager Jon Daniels said last week that Guzman, who is rehabbing at Double A Frisco, will rejoin the Rangers after his reinstatement rather than being optioned to Triple A. Guzman homered and doubled Saturday in his first rehab game.

Odor good Buchholz deep on a 2-2 pitch after falling behind 0-2 in the count. He lined to second in his second at-bat before a two-out single in the fifth. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. robbed Odor of a hit in the seventh.

It might have been his best game of the season. It was definitely his best since coming off the injured list last weekend at Seattle.

He needed it, even though he isn’t in danger of a trip to the minors.

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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.