A grand day for Hunter Pence, Rangers
A lot of things happen quickly, and in a panic, when your flight home gets canceled.
Got to book another flight.
Got to see if I can still get out that night.
Got to see if there’s a direct flight.
A 5:50 a.m. through Chicago? Book it.
Got to book a hotel.
Where the hell am I going to eat?
So, a few things get lost in the mad rush, which actually takes only about 30 minutes. No problem, I’ll get to it tomorrow. Oh, wait. My daughter has double ear infection?
How about Friday?
Here’s some catch-up and observations from Rangers land.
1. Delino DeShields is a member of the Nashville Sounds, an unfortunate development for him and the Rangers after yet another spring in which the speedy center fielder seemed destined for a breakthrough.
It seems as if he would never have been optioned Wednesday had the Rangers had more roster flexibility. Danny Santana and Logan Forsythe are out of minor-league options and the Rangers didn’t want to risk losing them, and the starting rotation is such at an extra reliever is needed.
Had DeShields been hitting .300, then perhaps the Rangers would have said so long to Santana, Forsythe or Jeanmar Gomez, who is also out of options, or optioned Ariel Jurado or Brett Martin.
Joey Gallo is capable in center field, and so is Santana.
That’s how DeShields came up with the short straw -- numbers and performance issues.
What does it mean for him? Well, on the face it certain doesn’t seem good.
DeShields once again has been sent to the minors after making an Opening Day roster. The Rangers have three center fielders -- Leody Taveras, Julio Pablo Martinez and the injured Bubba Thompson — among their top 10 prospects, though they aren’t close to the majors.
Taveras is closest, and he must go on the 40-man roster after this season to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. He’s thriving in his repeat season at High A, but a promotion is not imminent.
But DeShields, like others, was asked to make changes to his swing. The Rangers want him to drive the ball rather than hit the ball on the ground an attempt to use his elite speed to reach base.
The .321 OBP is encouraging. For a guy hitting .182, it’s excellent. He’s staying withing his approach, but maybe too much. Good pitches to hit might be getting past him.
He’ll have time to figure it out, with a good guess being next month during the Rangers’ stretch of playing 21 games over 20 days without a day off. History would suggest the Rangers don’t want Gallo playing center field too much.
About that history ...
2. There was a time not too long ago when the Rangers were super worried about the effects that playing center field could have on Josh Hamilton, who they feared was too big (6-foot-3, 240 pounds) to play that position regularly.
The pounding and running would lead to injuries, they said, and they were 100 percent correct. Globe Life Park and Target Field have the notches on their center-field walls to prove it.
Gallo is ... bigger than Hamilton at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, and not as fast. Gallo is less injury prone than Hamilton, though he has had hamstring and groin issues the past two springs.
Gallo, the numbers scream, is reaching base far more often this season than ever before. The Rangers need to account for that extra mileage.
Santana can get give Gallo a breather when needed, and there’s always the DH spot if manager Chris Woodward wants to keep Gallo’s bat in the lineup. The Rangers have off days Monday, May 23 and June 3 before the 21 games in 20 days, so it’s doable.
But the Rangers really shouldn’t want to do it, no matter how hot Pence’s bat is.
Pence isn’t a part of the future. DeShields might not be but for another season. Gallo, though, is.
3. Another significant injury has hit the Rangers’ farm system, though it’s not a pitcher needing Tommy John surgery for a change.
It still stinks nonetheless for the Rangers, who have also lost High A right-hander A.J. Alexy (strained right lat) for an extended stretch, and shortstop Chris Seise, who tore the labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder while sliding at Low A Hickory. He underwent surgery Thursday and is out for the season.
This injury comes on top of an injury and surgery to his right shoulder that cost him all of last season.
Seise was selected 29th overall in the 2017 draft, three picks after Thompson. He is out for a few more weeks after having surgery to remove a broken hamate bone.
The long-range expectation for Seise is that he will remain a shortstop for his career. That same isn’t so certain about Anderson Tejeda and Jonathan Ornelas, two other highly regarded shortstops in the Rangers’ system.
Seise just needs to stay on the field. Had he done so this year, some with the Rangers believed he would have emerged as one of their five best prospects.
To paraphrase a Rangers exec’s reaction to the news, bummer.