Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward is more than willing to be the “bad guy.” If players aren’t hustling or complaining, Woodward will rip into them.
“I think some of the guys were expecting something different, maybe they were expecting a little beatdown,” Woodward said on Tuesday before the Rangers opened a three-game series at Kansas City.
“They didn’t need to be beaten down. They’re playing their tails off.”
So Woodward delivered an uplifting, encouraging message to his players. But that doesn’t mean he’s happy with losing, or pleased with the results.
He certainly couldn’t have been happy when the Rangers fell into a 9-0 hole early on in the series opener against the Royals, but his team battled back. They scored four runs in the third inning, and made it a little more respectable in an 11-5 loss.
The five-game losing streak isn’t sitting well with anyone in the clubhouse, but the effort is still there at least.
“This team doesn’t give up,” Woodward said afterward. “We’ve lost five in a row, but we’re going to come back out tomorrow and expect to win.”
If that effort, or resiliency, wasn’t there, Woodward’s message and mindset would change.
“If I felt there was a lack of effort, or a lack of care, or pointing fingers, or complaining, I’d address that in a negative way cause I don’t tolerate that,” Woodward said. “If guys are giving me their best effort, and they just need to learn how to be better, then we’re going to provide that in a positive way. Not a smiling positive way, but just a, ‘Hey, we need to get better, but here’s how we’re going to get better.’
“I don’t need to go in there and throw the tables up. If guys aren’t running balls out, yeah, they’re going to get a different side of me. If they’re pointing fingers at each other and complaining and doing all that stuff, I won’t tolerate that. I would’ve come in and yelled at them. They’re not doing that. They’re doing everything we’ve asked. We’ve got a lot of work to do to get to where we need to get to, but we’re going to figure it out. We’re going to address it.”
A few more reactions from Tuesday --
▪ Right-hander Shelby Miller had his shortest outing of the season, failing to get through two innings. He allowed eight runs on seven hits with two walks and one strikeout over 1 2/3 innings.
“My intentions were obviously to go out there and get deeper into the game and pitch a better ballgame than that,” Miller said. “It’s just tough. I’ve just got to put it behind me.”
▪ Shortstop Elvis Andrus exited in the seventh inning with an apparent hamstring injury, pulling up as he ran to first on a ground out. The Rangers faced a significant deficit at the time, and are optimistic the injury isn’t serious.
▪ Woodward mentioned he’d like to see Ariel Jurado make a start in the “near future.” Jurado gave up four unearned runs to the Astros on Sunday and two runs over 2 1/3 innings to the Royals on Tuesday.
Prior to those outings, he had limited opponents to 3 for 26 in six appearances.
“I think he will,” Woodward said of Jurado getting a start. “That might be his best role. If he can hold that stuff for 80 or 90 pitches, yeah, it’s something we probably have to see at some point. There are some possibilities coming up that we might slot him in there.”
A logical place for Jurado may be taking Miller’s spot in the rotation the next time through, something that Woodward acknowledged would be under consideration.