Dream coming true for Heineman, but what about first base?
Let the evaluating for 2020 begin.
A quiet trade deadline Wednesday for the Texas Rangers turned into a loud first day back to the ballpark Friday, when four players were recalled from the minor leagues in flurry of roster moves.
None of the moves is terribly surprising, and a chunk of them were announced Wednesday night — Asdrubal Cabrera and Tim Federowicz would be designated for assignment, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jose Trevino were recalled.
The DFAs were official Thursday. Outfielder Scott Heineman and right-hander Emmanuel Clase joined Kiner-Falefa and Trevino on the active roster Friday, and righty Phillips Valdez and left-hander Kyle Bird were optioned to Triple-A Nashville.
And how about the winning for the rest of 2019?
While the evaluations will begin in earnest — Heineman and Kiner-Falefa were in the lineup Friday to open a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers — manager Chris Woodward will attempt to find the balance between playing time for established major leaguers and still giving the Rangers a chance to remain competitive.
“I’m going to try to put the best lineup on the field to win a game,” Woodward said. “But I also want to see what some of these guys can do.”
The Rangers held on for a 5-4 win Friday after getting out to a 5-1 lead through seven.
Former Southlake Carroll High and TCU left-hander Tyler Alexander started for the Tigers, giving Woodward a way to get the righty-hitting Heineman in the lineup. But it cost Delino DeShields, another righty hitter, at-bats, and Nomar Mazara, a left-handed hitter, was on the bench.
Woodward said that just about everyone is going to have to adjust to less playing time, though Willie Calhoun will get an extended everyday look in left field. But Mazara and veterans Shin-Soo Choo and Hunter Pence are likely to see more time off than they received the first four months of the season.
“It affects everybody,” Woodward said.
Heineman will be making his MLB debut after missing out on a September promotion last season despite being the Rangers’ Minor League Player of the Year. A December operation on his left/non-throwing shoulder cost him the first few months of the season, but he has been tearing up Pacific League pitching since his return.
He left Nashville with a 1.017 OPS in 129 at-bats. Heineman started at first base in his final six games at Nashville, but won’t play there until the Rangers evaluate how he handles the position.
“It’s just exciting, a dream come true for me and my family,” Heineman said. “In the offseason when I went down with the surgery, that took a hard hit on me. When I first came back, I was 100 percent ready physically, but getting back in the swing of things ... I had a little setback. Once I got that cleared up, I felt like it was time to turn it up.”
Clase, recalled with Kiner-Falefa from Double-A Frisco, will be seeking his MLB debut in a season that started at Low A Hickory. He has repeated touched 100 mph this season in his march through the system, and he received the nod over fellow minor-league righties Demarcus Evans and Joe Barlow because his command is better.
“Talking to the staff down there and the people who’ve watching him, he’s got very, very good ability but his command is probably the most advanced of the group,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “The staff has worked with him on moving his fastball vertically as well as expanding the zone with this slider in advantage counts.”
Kiner-Falefa was on the Opening Day roster as one of the two catchers but is returning as an infielder, where he spent most of his time in the minors before being asked to transition to behind the plate.
Trevino, who made his MLB debut last season, will share the catching load with Jeff Mathis. Trevino is a heralded defensive catcher and said that his bat started coming around this season.
“I feel a ton better,” he said. “Clear head. Thinking about the right things, not the wrong things. Just doing whatever I can to help my team win.”
The Rangers aren’t waving the white flag or wins and losses.
“We look at the opportunity to raise the talent level on the club,” Daniels said. “This is not just about taking a look at the guys. There’s a component of that, but when you bring guys up in September, it’s not the same. August is a little more traditional baseball, and we’d rather evaluate them now.
“We’ll see where it goes. I know what the standings say and the odds, but these guys may be able to help the club in a positive way.”