Delino DeShields couldn’t have picked a better time to return to the Texas Rangers.
After being shut out in back-to-back games and held scoreless over their last 19 innings, the Rangers welcomed back their leadoff hitter and offensive spark plug for Friday’s series opener against the Oakland Athletics.
Entering Friday, DeShields had scored 63 runs in 99 games as a rookie but missed the previous three games with a mild left knee sprain.
“I don’t feel any restrictions,” DeShields said. “It’s really just a comfort thing at this point. My knee is stable, looked great when the doctors checked it out. It’s just a matter of how far I can take it.
“It’s a pain that’s not just going to go away overnight, but I want to be here and help contribute and play for these last few weeks and make the push for the playoffs. I’m going to suck it up and go out there and do what I can do to help.”
The Rangers hope that means igniting an offense that was shut out four times on its 10-game road trip. Manager Jeff Banister said DeShields’ impact since becoming a full-time starter in May speaks for itself.
“He’s been a catalyst at the top of the lineup for us,” Banister said. “When he’s in there, we’re a better offensive, run-scoring ballclub. When he gets on base, we feel confident we’re going to score.
“We also feel confident that he’s going to do something at the top of our lineup to spark our offense. We like having him up there; we like the look of it.”
Watching from the dugout wasn’t exactly where DeShields wanted to be anyway, especially with his team hunting a postseason berth.
“I’m not a rah-rah cheerleader type of guy,” he said. “I like going out there and battling with my guys. It’s awesome, getting to fight for something.
“Everyone counted us out in the beginning, no one really knew what to expect. But we’ve come a long way, we battled all year and now we’re in a position to win a pennant or make a wild card and go to playoffs and fight for a World Series. It’s been an awesome experience.”
Optimism for Hamilton
Optimism for Hamilton
Outfielder Josh Hamilton underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Friday morning as team physician Dr. Keith Meister cleaned up a small tear in the medial meniscus.
The Rangers announced no timetable for his return but expressed guarded optimism about Hamilton being able to return this season as a pinch hitter.
“What we get from that point on, we get,” Banister said. “This is about him as a person. It has nothing to do with the player. They’re human beings and this is their career, and they need their body to perform and play this game.”
Martin still possible
Leonys Martin, who had surgery on his right hand Aug. 26, is working out at Globe Life Park and hopes to be an option down the stretch. Banister called Martin the Rangers’ best defensive outfielder.
If he’s healthy enough, Banister said, Martin could be used as a late defensive substitute or pinch runner.
“He’s a definite defensive weapon,” Banister said, “if we can get him where he’s healthy enough and able to do it.”
Saturday TV update
Saturday’s game between the Rangers and A’s will be carried on KTXA/Channel 21 in the Dallas-Fort Worth market only.
The rest of Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana can see the game on Fox Sports Southwest Plus. In Arkansas, the game will be carried on satellite/telco only. Here’s a satellite and telco channel guide for Saturday’s game only: DirecTV channel 676-2 (SD&HD); Dish channels 449 (SD), 9519 (HD); AT&T U-Verse channels 757 (SD), 1757 (HD).
“It goes all the way to the very beginning when we got the news about [Yu] Darvish and everybody buried us. Put the dirt right on top of us before we ever played a game. So guess what? We’re still here. We still got a shot.” — Banister, when asked about Hamilton potentially returning to the club after knee surgery Friday morning
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760