Willie Calhoun is headed to Triple A Nashville for the same reason the Texas Rangers sent him there at the end of spring training.
They have too many outfielders, too many left-handed-hitting outfielders, and not playing regularly doesn’t serve him well.
Delino DeShields has more utility because of his speed and defensive prowess, not to mention a .326 batting average since June 2, so he stuck on the Rangers’ roster Tuesday as Hunter Pence was reinstated from the 10-day injured list.
Calhoun was not pleased with the decision, as was the case in March.
“I mean, I’ve helped the team win, so I don’t know what else I would have had to have done,” he said.
But while it appears things haven’t changed, they have.
There were other players in the debate on who should be sent down, including right fielder Nomar Mazara. In his fourth big-league season, albeit at 24, the Rangers need to see more from him.
Other than that, it was just a normal hot July Tuesday in the middle of a baseball season.
“I’m speechless, bro,” Calhoun said. “I don’t know. I really … ask them. I’m literally speechless. Like, it caught me off guard.”
First baseman Ronald Guzman was also under consideration, but optioning an infielder would not have cleared up the log jam in the outfield and would have created an excess of outfielders on the bench.
The Rangers value his defense, too.
Mazara was a surprise entry in the conversation. His numbers this season (12 homers, 51 RBIs, .753 OPS) aren’t much better than they were his first three seasons in the majors, and the Rangers have spoken with him about the need to do more.
The threat of going to the minors wasn’t not levied, manager Chris Woodward said. Instead, the Rangers asked him to recommit to the things that were stressed in the off-season and at spring training.
“We want him to be better,” Woodward said.
The Rangers want to give Mazara a chance to get better for them.
“I don’t think this is his ceiling,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “He’s been a solid contributor. He’s got another step he can get to.”
Rangers brass defended Calhoun for feeling the way he does. He helped jump-start their June run from obscurity and hasn’t been overmatched since coming off the injured list June 17.
He takes an .802 OPS with him to Triple A, where he again insisted is a place where he has nothing left to accomplish. Keeping his senses about him would be a good start.
“This is going on my fourth time with this team,” Calhoun said. “It’s the same thing every year. They keep telling me to be patient. I don’t know how much longer I have to be patient.”
Daniels said the irony of the situation is the Rangers believe more than ever that Calhoun is an everyday big-leaguer. He has his conditioning, improved defensively in left field and has a better idea at the plate.
DeShields’ skill set, though, plays better off the bench, and the Rangers need his right-handed bat more than another lefty bat that Calhoun offers.
The Rangers will continue to be faced with the glut for the rest of the season, barring something happening before the July 31 trade deadline. The Rangers were open to trading from that group of lefty-hitting corner outfielders in the off-season, Daniels said, and would do so again in the right deal.
For now, Calhoun has to live with a decision he can’t control.
“It sucks,” Woodward said. “It wasn’t a fun conversation. He didn’t deserve to go down. I don’t feel like any of those guys deserve to go down.”