Chris Woodward is praying Rougned Odor snaps out of slump before drastic steps are needed
Logan Forsythe and Danny Santana might be the two most productive bench players in the American League, now that Hunter Pence has become a must-have for every Texas Rangers lineup.
Forsythe and Santana have been so good that they batted 1-2 on Wednesday as the Rangers closed out their six-game road trip with a matinee against the Seattle Mariners.
Both were .300 hitters, and Forsythe boasted a .408 on-base percentage.
“They’ve been godsends,” manager Chris Woodward said.
Both can play second base capably, and so can Rougned Odor. He was a finalist for the Gold Glove last season.
But Odor can’t hit. He can, but he entered Wednesday batting .163. Outside of a few good months last season he hasn’t hit the way the Rangers believe he can since seeing it in 2016.
More often than not, though, he sees his name on the lineup card. Despite his struggles and the upgrades Forsythe and Santana appear to be, Odor isn’t headed to the bench or Triple A.
“I would only make that decision if I thought Rougie was to the point where, ‘I can’t do it anymore.’ If he lost hope,” Woodward said. “If he keeps fighting the way he does, I feel like I’ve got to support that.”
Odor had a decent day Wednesday, contributing an RBI single and a key eighth-inning walk, as the Rangers rallied for an 8-7 victory.
The Rangers have never questioned Odor’s work ethic or desire to be great, other than he might want to success too badly. Forcing the action can lead to bad swing tendencies, which in Odor’s case means pulling off the ball and pulling the ball on the ground.
Hitting coach Luis Ortiz said that Odor is front-side dominant, and the tendency when he isn’t going well is to close his front side. That leads to him pulling off.
Odor has a lot of moving parts in his swing, and his high leg kick is part of it. Ortiz is also trying to get Odor to relax his upper body at the plate to keep him from pulling the ball so much.
“Sometimes when you’re struggling you try to force the action and you overswing a little bit,” Ortiz said. “It’s just a matter of getting himself in a good position to hit, relaxing, having a good approach and trying to stay square just a little more longer.
“Basically what we’re trying to do is master what he does before he swings. His swing is still good. The timing, the when and how he lands ... he’s searching for the feeling.”
Odor said that he is working on “everything,” but denied that Ortiz asked him to be more relaxed at the plate. The Rangers thought that worked Tuesday, when Odor doubled in his first at-bat and field to deep center his next one.
For weeks now Odor has maintained that he is close to breaking through. He went 4 for 21 on the road trip.
“I’m going to keep saying that,” he said.
Woodward said that Odor has been more open-minded of late about solving his swing. Maybe he has reached rock bottom. Maybe he is feeling pressure from Forsythe and Santana.
Though he signed a six-year, $49.5 million contract two years ago, maybe that continues to hang over him.
“Sometimes past success works in detriment of future success,” Ortiz said. “It happens to all of us.”
That contract is also why Odor will continue to get chances to work out of his funk. Woodward continues to believe Odor will get out of it.
“I hope there’s some success and results down the road to put his mind at ease,” Woodward said. “I feel bad because he’s putting so much effort into what he’s doing. It’s a tough spot to be in. He wants it bad. He wants it all today. There’s not negative energy. There’s some frustration there. He wants to help, and he feels like he’s not at times.
“He brings a lot to the table. I know that his numbers don’t look great, but when he gets out of this ... it’s going to mean something to the organization as a whole.”