Texas Rangers’ rookie Nick Solak on playing former Tampa Bay teammates
If the Texas Rangers’ 2019 season is remembered for much of anything, atop the list will probably be the emergence of Nick Solak.
The rookie was obtained in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays on July 13 for pitcher Pete Fairbanks.
At the time, it didn’t make much of a ripple in Rangers Nation, but with each game in the big leagues, it’s looking more and more like one of general manager Jon Daniels’ better moves.
Solak hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning Tuesday night against his old team, although Solak never made it to the big leagues with the Rays.
Since getting called up on Aug. 20, the 24-year-old has three homers, three doubles and 13 RBIs. He also batting around .325 in 20 games.
Sure, it’s a small sample size. But with Rougned Odor’s struggles at the plate, having a second baseman produce going into the off-season could help sway the Rangers in a direction they may have previously been reluctant to go.
Lance Lynn held the Rays to one run on four hits over seven innings Tuesday but did not factor in the decision.
The Rays scored twice in the 11th inning to win 5-3. Reliever Emmanuel Clase and second baseman Rougned Odor made throwing errors on the same play that allowed the first run to score. Another run scored on Guillermo Heredia’s single to left.
Solak was batting in the clean-up spot for the 11th game on Tuesday. Manager Chris Woodward likes the way Solak controls the strike zone.
“He came as advertised,” Woodward said. “I’d heard his at-bat quality was really good. It’s been pretty impressive. He knows what he’s looking for when he gets up there.
“He’s a very smart kid. He doesn’t strike out a lot. He’s fought some balls off. He knows how to drive in a run.”
The word on Solak when the trade was made, Woodward said, was that he was an average defender. But Woodward thinks he has the tools to become a better than average defender.
“Defensively, we’ve seen him at second and third and he’s impressed me,” he said. “I love what I see as far as his footwork. I feel like he can become a decent defender.”