DeShields describes how he made ridiculous catch for Rangers
From the outside, and, shoot, maybe even to some on the inside, the end appeared near for Delino DeShields in early May.
First baseman Ronald Guzman was ready to come off the 10-day injured list, so DeShields was sent to Triple A Nashville on May 8 after a two-game series at Pittsburgh.
He had options and was hitting below .200. Hunter Pence, Danny Santana and Logan Forsythe could not be optioned and were among the Texas Rangers’ best hitters.
DeShields drew the short straw, and it looked like the last straw.
But the center fielder has resuscitated his season and maybe his career with the Rangers by finding a consistent swing for one of the first times, and by continuing to play elite defense and cause havoc on the bases.
Not many players in baseball can do the things DeShields is capable of doing.
“When I look at my game and things I can do, it’s just different than anybody we have,” he said. “The small-ball element, the base-threat, the defense. I don’t see myself as a fourth guy. Never have.
“I’m still pretty young. I just always wanted a chance to go out there and play. I’ve been around this game a long time, and I know it’s about adjustments. I just don’t want to be so easily given up on. If I go out there and do what I’m supposed to do, then I have my chance.”
DeShields was in the lineup Thursday as the Rangers opened a four-game series with a 3-1 victory against the Baltimore Orioles, owners of the worst record in baseball. He was batting .247 overall, down from .266 the past month, but .274 since returning from Triple A Nashville on June 2.
“I’m really encouraged by what we’ve seen since he came back,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “He’s a clear-plus defensively. He brings a lot offensively. It’s just been a matter of consistency. He’s got a skill set unlike the rest of the group.”
The Rangers believe DeShields is a big-league player, a piece of a championship team. His elite defense in center field makes up for deficiencies corner outfielders might have and keeps them in the lineup for their offense.
If DeShields is playing center field, Joey Gallo can move to a corner spot and save some wear and tear on his body.
DeShields’ speed aids his defense and makes him disruptive on the bases. He can move himself into scoring position with a stolen base or by easily going first to third. He can score from first on a double or a from third on a shallow sacrifice fly.
“I’ve loved him ever since spring training, just what he brings to the table,” manager Chris Woodward said. “He’s kind of solidified center field. He pressures every at-bat, and he’s still working. It’s the most consistent he’s been with his swing in his entire career. That’s what everybody is most proud of.”
But the outfield picture for 2020 is much more crowded with DeShields back in it. The Rangers have four left handed-hitting corner outfielders plus the versatile Santana and Scott Heineman.
The Rangers are bound to have some level of interest in re-signing Pence, though they might not have room.
Something will have to give with DeShields in the picture again.
“If I had any control of how I wanted my season to go individually, it wouldn’t have been how it was this year,” he said. “But every year I’m just continually trying to grow as a person and learn as a ballplayer. For me to come back how I did, I think, was encouraging for me. I just wanted to come up here and help the team win and control what I can control. If I do that it helps the team.”