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Kelley laughing despite uncertainty and getting ‘stabbed in the throat for 20 minutes’

The Top 10 prospects in the Rangers organization

Here are the Top 10 prospects for the Texas Rangers, as ranked by MLB.com.
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Here are the Top 10 prospects for the Texas Rangers, as ranked by MLB.com.

In less than one year from this very day, the kind of rain that fell Saturday afternoon at Randol Mill Road and Nolan Ryan Expressway will not put any Texas Rangers game into a delay.

There will be more day games, though not necessarily on Saturdays.

Yeah, there will be air conditioning and artificial turf beneath a big retractable roof at Globe Life Field, but the best change is that when fans show up for a game at 3:05 p.m. or 5:30 a.m., they will know that’s when the game will start.

The Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals were delayed 2 hours, 11 minutes Saturday by a steady torrential downpour that left the Globe Life Park outfield looking like a swimming pool.

The warning track was a disaster, though the grounds crew made it playable.

Baseball was played, though in hindsight the Rangers probably hoped it would have never stopped raining.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from an 8-2 victory.

1. Shawn Kelley delivered some sobering news Saturday morning. He’s dealing with something far more important than baseball.

The right-hander underwent surgery Thursday to remove at least two masses from his vocal cords. The lumps had been bothering him since the start of the season and grown in size.

(For the record, Kelley said that he has never been a smokeless tobacco user.)

Doctors couldn’t get to the lumps with a needle, so they operated to remove them.

The results of the biopsy are pending.

Despite the uncertainty of what’s ahead, Kelley made it clear that he wants to get back to playing baseball. He was hoping to throw a bullpen session Saturday and be activated from the 10-day injured list Sunday, but manager Chris Woodward said the soonest Kelley will be activated is Monday.

Kelley also seemed to have his sense of humor about him. He was ticked that doctors made him shave his beard for the operation. He told how they first attempted to use a needle to extract enough samples for a biopsy but ultimate couldn’t get enough.

“I was, ‘Great, you guys stabbed me in the throat for 20 minutes,’” he said.

The Rangers are prepared to support Kelley in any way, and Woodward believes the first thing he can do is make sure Kelley is ready to go physically and mentally before taking him off the IL.

Until the biopsy is back in a couple days, that’s all the Rangers can do.

2. Joey Gallo recorded his sixth outfield assist Friday night when he threw out Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong as he tried to go from first base to third on a single to center.

Wong runs well, really well. Gallo, teams are learning, throws really well, and throwing out Wong might be what finally convinces Rangers foes to not test Gallo’s arm.

That’s not a bad thing.

“When two outs, you know they’re going to send a guy so you have a free throw to home,” Woodward said. “Other than that, your biggest strength as an outfield arm is to keep him from going or to keep me as third-base coach from sending him. It’s a huge thing.”

The throw might have been on Matt Carpenter’s mind in the first inning Saturday. He was at second base with one out when Paul DeJong sent a flyball to center field. It looked deep enough for Carpenter to tag, which he did, but he only bluffed leaving for third.

So, a big arm’s usefulness isn’t just a case of directly stopping a runner from scoring. If a runner stops at second rather than going to third base because of Gallo’s arm, he’s 90 feet further away from home.

If there’s less than two outs, the runner can’t score on a wild pitch or a sacrifice fly or a grounder to shortstop.

“That’s a plus for us,” Woodward said.

The Cardinals would have had runners at first and third with no outs had Wong been safe. They were down 7-2 at the time and had the top of their order coming.

“It was a huge play,” Woodward said. “They were a couple of hits away from getting the tying run up.”

3. Ariel Jurado allowed four runs (two earned) in 4 1/3 innings, and that should be good enough for him to either start or pitch after an opener the next time his turn in the rotation comes up.

It could be Friday to open a six-game road trip, or the Rangers could skip his turn and not use him until May 29. Considering the need to get his pitch count built up again, skipping him might not be the best course.

But the right-hander wasn’t bad Saturday. He had allowed only one unearned run through his first four innings before some possible fatigue set in as he worked the fifth. An error in that inning didn’t help his cause, and it contributed to the Cardinals’ five-run rally.

“He did a really good job, especially not being built out to 85 or 90 pitches,” Woodward said. “I think next time out he’d get a little deeper in his pitch count. But even then I thought at the end he was still throwing the ball pretty good. I thought he was in command the whole day.”

So, for those keeping track at home, Drew Smyly will pitch Sunday and be followed by Mike Minor, Lance Lynn and opener/Adrian Sampson against the Seattle Mariners. The Rangers haven’t decided what they will do Wednesday, but the opener/Sampson combo did well Friday.

Might as well try it again.

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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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