Texas Rangers

Woodward is giving the Rangers a free pass for their struggles Tuesday. Here’s why

Chris Woodward: ‘It definitely affected us’

Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward said his team was a bit off Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Angels a day after Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead.
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Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward said his team was a bit off Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Angels a day after Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead.

July 2 is a big day in baseball each season, as a new international signing period begins.

MLB clubs have done all of the heavy lifting well in advance, agreements are in place, and July 2 is the first day players can sign the dotted line.

One reporter in particular has a field day — former Star-Telegram writer Jesse Sanchez, who works for mlb.com. He went to Saginaw Boswell High and Texas A&M before coming to the Star-Telegram as a composer. He moved to the Sports agate desk before he started covering prep sports.

Sanchez went to mlb.com in the early 2000s and has been based out of Phoenix around 10 years. If he reports a signing, and he seems to report all of them, it’s true.

He reported on three Texas Rangers signings — outfielder Bayron Lora from the Dominican Republic, Venezuelan shortstop Maximo Acosta and shortstop Zion Bannister from the Bahamas.

A source confirmed Acosta for $1.65 million and Bannister for $835,000, but no word was given on the Lora deal. Sanchez said it’s for $4.2 million.

Believe it.

They’re all 16, so they might be in the majors in four or five years.

As for the happenings of the big-league club Tuesday, here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 9-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

‘A weird game’

Rangers manager Chris Woodward said that everyone is getting a pass Tuesday night.

The walks, the pitches, the errors, the bad at-bats. All excused.

The Rangers tried to win the game, but it wasn’t a normal day at the ballpark the day after Angels left-hander Tyler Skaggs died.

“It wasn’t our best game, but it affected us in some way,” Woodward said.

More bluntly, there was a lack of energy in the ballpark as the Rangers tried to give the Angels the respect of not blaring music and trying in anyway to show them up as they tried to balance playing a game with mourning Skaggs.

The Rangers weren’t introduced as they took the field. Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor jogged to their positions rather than their normal mad race to touch first base first.

No walk-up music was played.

“It was kind of a somber day,” starting pitcher Mike Minor said. “Not a lot of energy. It was a weird game. As you could tell, there was no real music intros. It just seemed like a weird game to be out there trying to compete against another team from what happened yesterday and how people were feeling.

“It was a little awkward just because you play some many games a certain way, and then you run out there and nobody knows what to do.”

That’s why Woodward isn’t concerned about the single-game club-record 249 pitches thrown, the season-high 11 walks issue or the four errors made by a usually steady defense.

“Today’s one of those days where I’m not going to hold any judgment on anybody,” Woodward said. “It’s a different day. It’s not a normal day by any means. I can’t hold that against anybody.”

Minor struggles

Minor said that he didn’t know if the lack of energy affected him during the shortest outing of his All-Star season. He lasted only 4 1/3 innings and allowed three runs while throwing 110 pitches.

“I think it was more foul balls,” Minor said. “I felt like every hitter was eight to 10 pitches.”

He walked four as Angels hitters fouled off good pitches and extended at-bats, but the Rangers were still leading 3-1 when Woodward took the ball from him. Brett Martin couldn’t get out of the jam, allowing a game-tying single to Jonathan Lucroy.

The game was still for the taking after five, but the bullpen piled on seven more walks. Teams can’t win walking 11 hitters.

Of the six pitchers the Rangers used, only Locke St. John didn’t issue a walk. He threw 35 pitches over 1 2/3 innings, and his reward could be a trip back to the minors if the Ranger believe they need another arm or two just to make it through to the All-Star break.

Pete Fairbanks, ineffective yet again in allowing three runs in the sixth and taking the loss, is another candidate to be swapped out for a fresh reliever.

All-Stars burning out

Hunter Pence will be lucky to get on at-bat in the All-Star Game, and he might join Minor on the American League bench. Minor can’t pitch next Tuesday because he is scheduled to throw Sunday for the Rangers.

Pence aggravated his groin injury Monday night. It’s not too bad, but the best case is one at-bat in the Midsummer Classic. Minor was originally scheduled to pitch Saturday, but the postponement of Monday’s game because of the death of Tyler Skaggs pushed Minor back.

Joey Gallo is going to be play, barring a setback with his oblique. But that oblique is going to keep him from participating in the Home Run Derby.

While that welcome news for everyone who is competing for the $1 million payday, baseball fans are taking a big hit with Gallo on the sidelines. He said he is fine with that decision, which came after MLB called the Rangers about his availability and the Rangers and Gallo talked it out.

Gallo says he has no complaints with the final decision.

But what could have been a big two days in Cleveland for the Rangers is now looking fairly pedestrian.

Miller’s time ends

Lost in the breaking news Monday was that right-hander Shelby Miller was designated for assignment, putting another large dent in what could have been a feel-good story this season.

Miller finally joined the Rangers. They opted to draft Matt Purke in 2009 instead of Miller, who went to Brownwood High School. He has had a far better career than Purke, who didn’t sign with the Rangers, went to TCU and was set back by injury issues.

But Miller, coming off of Tommy John surgery, struggled in the rotation to start the season and wasn’t getting much better in the bullpen. But he was a professional the whole way.

“The way he handled the adversity was pretty admirable,” Woodward said. “True character comes out when you get that kind of adversity, and he showed me a lot.”

The Rangers haven’t closed the door on Miller, who could go to Triple A Nashville if he clears waiver. He has the right to refuse assignment and become a free agent, but he indicated he would stay in the organization.

Miller would get consistent work in the minors and maybe stumble upon something that clicks. The Rangers, obviously still in need of relief help, would consider promotion him them.

One could be coming soon. The Rangers created a spot on the 40-man roster with the Miller DFA, and Matt Bush could take it. He has pitched well at Double A Frisco on the way back from injury and has pitched frequently as if being built up for a promotion.

If the Rangers go through as many arms Wednesday as they did Tuesday, Bush could be up sooner than later.

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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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