Delino DeShields knows what’s going on with the Texas Rangers, even if isn’t quite sure what’s going on.
Elvis Andrus is coming off the injured list Saturday, when the Rangers will likely option DeShields back to Triple A Nashville to continue working on a swing that contributed to them not keeping him in the majors earlier in the month.
It’s possible that the Rangers part ways with a reliever, leaving them with a standard seven-man bullpen, but don’t count on it.
“Probably not, but it’s still in the discussion,” manager Chris Woodward said Friday afternoon at Angel Stadium. “I don’t think it’s in the lead at this point.”
DeShields opened the season as the Rangers’ center fielder for the third time since 2015 and has been on the Opening Day roster in all five of his big-league seasons. This was supposed to be the year, his year. Again.
It wasn’t supposed to be Hunter Pence’s year or Danny Santana’s or Logan Forsythe’s. All three were non-roster spring invites who have made themselves indispensable to the big-league club. DeShields didn’t do that the first six weeks of the season, and he has minor-league options.
“It’s is what it is,” DeShields said.
Well, what is it?
“I don’t know,” he said. “Big question mark. Got to take it for what it is. There is some unknown. Got to keep working. Control what I can control.”
Right now, that’s continuing to work wherever the Rangers have him. If that is, indeed, Triple A after the opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, that’s where his work will continue.
Woodward believes that DeShields is close to having a consistent swing that will make him the lineup catalyst he was during his rookie season in 2015 and at times for shorter stretches since.
The Rangers remain convinced that DeShields can be a player on a championship big-league team. He has more talent than Rajai Davis and Terrance Gore, other outfielders who have parlayed their speed into roles on World Series teams.
DeShields, many with the Rangers believe, is much more than that.
So does DeShields, who sees how well the other bench players have performed and knows he must do better. But he was surprised when the Rangers sent him down May 8 after their win at Pittsburgh in which Pence came off the bench to hit a game-tying grand slam.
“My hits weren’t falling, but I wasn’t expecting to get sent down. Not even 100 at-bats,” DeShields said. “But I took it for what it was, went down to Triple A, continue to work on what I have to work on, don’t get discouraged by the results. It stinks, but this sport is hard. You can do everything right and still fail.”
Woodward said that he was painfully honest with DeShields when he was recalled Wednesday after Willie Calhoun was placed on the IL. He might miss a month with a strained left quad.
DeShields wasn’t under and false illusions.
But, as he says, his situation “sucks.” Woodward gets it.
“I had a good talk with him the other day,” he said. “He wants to be an everyday player in the big leagues. He wants to be a really, really good, high-quality, high-caliber everyday player, and I want that for him.
“I told him, ‘I’m a big believer that the cream rises to the top, and you’re going to have to go through some things and the organization hasn’t given up on you.’ For me, he’s 100 percent next in line, and when that time comes I’ll be ready to put him in there.”
There’s no telling when that time will come. DeShields could make force the Rangers’ hand by tearing up the Pacific Coast League but then must prove to the rest of the league that he has figured things out.
Until then, it is what it is.
“It was tough for me,” DeShields said. “This was supposed to be a good year for me. I want to be here in the big leagues. I don’t want to be in Triple A. I like everything we have been building on since the beginning of spring training.
“Not being here was a little tough for me, but I have to make the best of it. I am happy for these guys. They are playing well. We are winning games and we are in second place. That’s awesome. At the same time, I want to be out there with them. It’s one of those things that is hard to accept, but I’m happy for the team.”