Make it official. Or at least as official as Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister is willing to declare at this point.
While reviewing a strategy from Texas’ 4-1 win Monday night over the Los Angeles Dodgers, Banister had a slip of the tongue. He referred to Shawn Tolleson as the club’s closer. It’s a title Banister feels the 27-year-old Allen native has earned the last three weeks, as he’s stepped into the club’s ninth-inning role.
“He’s closed enough games out for us to be called a closer,” Banister said. “I’m comfortable with giving Tolly the closer’s position.”
Tolleson earned his ninth save Monday, striking out one and allowing a hit. In 29 appearances this year, he has a 2.67 ERA and 33 strikeouts across 30 1/3 innings.
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Less certain for Banister right now is the bridge to Tolleson.
Monday night, it was Tanner Scheppers, who entered with a 4-0 lead in the eighth and gave up a homer. Keone Kela pitched a scoreless eighth on Sunday, while Anthony Bass gave up four runs in 1 2/3 innings of relief Saturday. Scheppers also gave up a homer in the eighth on Friday.
“That is still an all-hands-on-deck when it comes to those innings,” Banister said. “I don’t think you need to settle on any one given pitcher in an inning, like you’re a sixth-inning guy, a seventh-inning guy, an eighth-inning guy. We do have a number of pitchers who are capable of pitching from the sixth inning until the end. It now becomes my job to decide who best fits the inning.”
Kyle Blanks started in left field and batted cleanup Tuesday night, as he tries to get back in rhythm after a stint on the 15-day disabled list. He was deactivated May 22, with a cyst on his tailbone. He returned last week against Oakland and went 0 for 3. In his only other at-bat since rejoining the club, he fouled out while pinch hitting Sunday against Minnesota.
Banister wants to get him going.
“That’s a power bat we could really use,” Banister said.
Blanks said the cyst “isn’t fully healed,” but that it only bothers him when he sits down, which isn’t a problem during the game. His bigger concern is his feet. Last month, he missed a pair of games due to soreness.
Left fielder Delino DeShields’ strained hamstring felt better Tuesday. The rookie went to the 15-day DL on Monday after pulling the muscle in Sunday’s series finale against the Twins. It’s the first hamstring issue he’s had to deal with in his pro career.
“I’ve never had any injuries, because I take pride in my legs,” he said. “I take care of them. ... This is a little test, I guess.”
On Tuesday, DeShields more “back to normal,” which meant he wasn’t limping.
“I’m walking normal speed,” he said. “It’s not great, but it’s better than it was yesterday, so that’s good.”
Joey Gallo said learning to play left field was not an added burden to his ongoing adjustment to the big leagues.
“I look forward to just playing,” Gallo said. “I feel OK in the outfield. The only thing that’s been tough is being in a big stadium is a little different … and the sun’s pretty bad out there in the first couple innings.”
Gallo recorded a putout in his only chance on Monday. His only regret was not being able to make a throw into the infield. “I love throwing from out there.”
Gallo was back at third base Tuesday.
Banister was most pleased with the walk Gallo drew in the sixth on Monday, his contribution to a four-run inning.
“The pitcher pitched him tough. It wasn’t like he was just trying to bypass him,” Banister said. “I thought it was an exceptional at-bat for a young man barely three weeks deep in major league baseball.”
The Rangers signed their fifth round selection in the 2015 First Year Player Draft, outfielder Chad Smith from South Gwinnett (Ga.) High School. He will report to the Arizona Rangers. Thirty of 40 picks are signed.
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7760