Part of the trials of developing players at the major league level is letting them figure things out for themselves, and that’s what the Texas Rangers are doing with second baseman Rougned Odor.
The rookie went 1 for 2 Sunday with a walk, ending an 0-for-17 skid, which included a first-pitch popout in the ninth inning Saturday with runners at first and second in an eventual 2-0 loss. Odor has been a free-swinger in his first big-league season, and the Rangers have talked to him about trying to see more pitches.
But that’s where his youth and inexperience enters the picture. He has a plan before he enters the batter’s box, but often reverts to what he did while briefly in the minor leagues.
“Believe me, he doesn’t leave that dugout without a plan,” manager Ron Washington said. “Exhibiting patience will come with time. If I start trying to tell this kid, ‘Look, you’ve got to go up there and start taking pitches,’ then he won’t hit [anything].
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“He has to go through it and figure it out. I wish there was a map we could write out on how it’s supposed to be done, but you have to let him go through it and all you can do it talk to him and explain situations and how to approach it.”
Odor, who singled in the ninth inning to snap his drought at 0 for 18, continues to lead all American League rookies with five triples. But he was averaging only 3.41 pitches per plate appearance entering Sunday and has walked only 10 times in 240 plate appearances.
That would rank as the sixth fewest if he were a qualifying hitter, a tick below Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez (3.38) and a tick ahead of Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano (3.48). The league’s top hitter, Jose Altuve, sees the fewest at 3.18.
Swinging early in counts isn’t the biggest baseball sin, but Odor is a young player who doesn’t have a catalogue of how pitchers attack him.
“What does he know about that?” Washington said. “Baseball is difficult. It isn’t just about talent. It’s about having some know-how.”
Martinez learning, too
Right-hander Nick Martinez believes that he is a better pitcher today than he was April 5, when he made his major-league debut, but it has nothing to do with stuff or velocity.
Martinez has a better idea of how to pitch, though the learning continues and his newfound knowledge isn’t always a snap to apply. It’s not for a lack of effort.
“He works hard, he’s very conscientious, and he pays attention,” Washington said. “It does well for a while, but it’s a learning experience. You have to do it over a long period of time. That’s what it takes.”
Martinez had allowed one run in five innings in his last start, Tuesday against the Yankees, but surrendered five in the sixth and couldn’t get out of the inning.
Learning how to escape trouble is the lesson he’s working on ahead of his start Monday in the opener at Chicago.
“When things aren’t go well for you as much, you just have to simplify things and get out of it,” Martinez said. “Mentally I feel like I’ve learned a lot. I haven’t perfected it and I still have a lot of learning to do. I’m learning every time I go out there.”
Rangers land Carp
The Rangers acquired outfielder Mike Carp on a waiver claim from Boston, and will give him playing time at first base and in left field in an audition for the 2015 roster.
Carp, a left-handed hitter with some power, is expected to report Monday in Chicago after the Red Sox put him on trade waivers Friday and assigned him to the Rangers.
“We envision him getting time at first base and corner outfield, probably more left field than right,” assistant general manager Thad Levine said.
“Like we’ve been doing with other players, we’re going to audition Mike and see if he can be part of a winning situation in 2015 and beyond and what role he’d be playing in that.”
The Rangers moved right-hander Alexi Ogando to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot for Carp on the 40-man roster and will likely move out a pitcher Monday to create a spot on the 25-man roster.