Texas Rangers

Verlander or Cole? An Astros ace should win Cy Young. Where does Minor belong on ballots?

Joey Gallo spent his Saturday in Surprise, Ariz., where his road back to the Texas Rangers’ lineup started in earnest.

The outfielder, who hasn’t played an MLB game since July because of a broken right hamate bone, had three plate appearances in a simulated game and went 1 for 2 with a double and a walk.

He also had a blister on his hand that burst, but the thought is it won’t delay his return.

Gallo is expected to come off the injured list Friday at Oakland, where the Rangers will play the A’s for the 17th, 18th and 19th times this season.

That probably feels like 15 too many for the Rangers.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from an 8-6 loss.

Where’s Minor?

Barring something completely unforeseen, the American League Cy Young Award will go to a pitcher with the Houston Astros.

Right-hander Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have been trading haymakers the past few weeks but have been dominant all season.

They won’t be the only pitchers working in the Lone Star State to land on ballots. Rangers All-Star left-hander Mike Minor and righty Lance Lynn have made strong cases.

Minor’s off night Saturday in part was the result of struggling to get on the same page with catcher Jose Trevino after Jeff Mathis left after two scoreless innings. Minor allowed seven runs on three homers over the next three innings.

“I think it was because of a mid-game change and also a young guy back there,” Minor said. “It might have sped up on him. It’s something to learn from.”

Trevino acknowledged the problems, which became evident as the game wore on. He wasn’t part of the pregame breakdown of the scouting report and was trying to catch up with Minor between innings.

“It’s tough, but I’ve just got to be better at it,” Trevino said.

He also thought the A’s might have changed their approach to him, as they were hitting pitches they normally don’t in certain sequences.

The performance won’t harm Minor’s standing: He should finish in the top five in balloting and might finish third behind the Astros duo.

His high placement WAR, which he doesn’t understand, adds a new wrinkle to his resume. Wins, as we all have learned the past five years, don’t matter all that much. His ERA of 3.33 is very good, especially the AL.

Lynn has a similar case, though not quite as strong.

The fact is that both of them have been excellent pitchers this season. Not as good as the Astros’ top two pitchers, but excellent nonetheless.

More on Choo

Shin-Soo Choo wasn’t going scorched earth on anybody on the Rangers’ roster Saturday afternoon when he said the Rangers need to play with more passion next season, and he also wasn’t necessarily talking about rah-rah stuff on the field.

Much more goes into a game than just showing up at 7:05 p.m. Some players arrive just after lunch. They have their routines for getting ready each game.

Every day.

Players these days, and this is especially so with the Rangers this season, have to be open to new ideas and improving even if what they have done in the past has worked out pretty well.

Choo has been around baseball a long time. He is a keen observer. He knows the Rangers are a young team. He knows it takes time to learn how to do things the right way.

Do veteran need an occasional kick in the tail? Sure.

Was Choo calling any of them out? It doesn’t seem that way.

This isn’t some clubhouse issue about to bubble over. It’s just an observation by a veteran player who knows what it takes to be a professional.

Feeling good

As the games tick away and before memories of it fade, it’s worth mentioning what a nice story Edinson Volquez has become for the Rangers.

The veteran right-hander is finishing out his career in the bullpen, and pitching in one-inning stints after recovering from an April elbow injury he thought might end his career.

He doesn’t fit in the rebuild the Rangers are continuing through, but the knowledge he is passing along to other pitchers is invaluable.

It was Volquez who spotted a mechanical flaw in May with Jose Leclerc, who once again is the Rangers’ closer and has been a good pitcher outside of the first five weeks of the season.

Volquez helped reinforce to Yohander Mendez the importance of using his fastball to make his changeup more effective.

Volquez sat in the bullpen during Arizona rookies to spread his knowledge on kids as young as 18. Don’t be surprised if some Rangers rookie in three or four years mentions the impact Volquez had on him.

He might not be going out with a World Series ring, but he’s going out on a high note.

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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.