Texas Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels still considers himself a newbie to the area and in the hearts of local fans.
So he viewed his participation in the club’s visit to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth on Wednesday as another way to get to know some fans, especially a group of wide-eyed and ailing patients holding onto hope for recovery.
“They can see you on a baseball field but to actually see you out in public and at a special event like this is it makes it a lot more real for them and shows that we really do care and we’re thinking about them,” said Hamels, who flew in for the event.
A large contingent of Rangers players, coaches and broadcasters, including manager Jeff Banister, Derek Holland, Robinson Chirinos and Delino DeShields, signed autographs, posed for pictures and gave out hugs to patients and their parents. Co-owner Ray Davis and general manager Jon Daniels were also on hand, visiting with patients and answering inquisitive questions from young patients who offered as much inspiration as they were receiving from the Rangers. Former Ranger Michael Young and Dillon Tate, the Rangers’ top pick in June’s draft, were also on hand.
“When we leave, it stays with these guys for a long time,” Banister said. “It’s really what’s important. Baseball and what we do becomes secondary. You can see it just how these guys interact with all these kids, they’re not afraid, they’re not scared, they jump right in because they know the importance of it,” said Banister, who had a well-chronicled bout with cancer as a teenager.
“I saw what it did to my own parents, just the sacrifices that they made, the emotional stresses that they went through, that part of it is tough. You really don’t want to be in this spot, this is a tough spot for anybody and you feel for each one of these parents, just the not knowing for them.”
Indians sign Napoli
First baseman Mike Napoli, who returned to help the Rangers win the division in the final two months of the season, signed a $7 million, one-year deal with the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday, pending a physical. Daniels said last week that re-signing Napoli was unlikely with Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland already occupying the designated hitter and first base spots.
Top 10 marathon
Fox Sports Southwest is airing a marathon of the Rangers’ top 10 games from 2015 with Banister adding commentary. Games Nos. 10 through 6 will air Dec. 24 and the top five will air on Christmas Day. Among the season highlights included are the AL West title clincher, Adrian Beltre’s and Shin-Soo Choo’s cycles, July’s bench-clearing kerfuffle in Houston and a pair of Josh Hamilton walk-off winners.
The Top 10 marathon, with air times and dates:
No. 10: Hamilton’s Walk-Off Single (July 30 vs. Yankees), 1 p.m. Dec. 24
No. 9: Eight run 11th Inning Outburst (Aug. 8 at Mariners), 2 p.m. Dec. 24
No. 8: Choo Hits For Cycle (July 21 at Rockies), 3 p.m. Dec. 24
No. 7: Lewis Flirts With Perfection (Sept. 11 vs. A’s), 7 p.m. Dec. 24
No. 6: Hamilton’s Walk-Off Double (May 31 vs. Red Sox), 8 p.m. Dec. 24
No. 5: Gallo’s MLB Debut (June 2 vs. White Sox), 7 p.m. Dec. 25; noon Jan. 1
No. 4: Beltre’s Third Career Cycle (Aug. 3 vs. Astros), 8 p.m. Dec. 25; 1 p.m. Jan. 1
No. 3: Odor-Conger Dust-Up (July 18 at Astros), 9 p.m. Dec. 25; 2 p.m. Jan. 1
No. 2: Moreland’s SF Puts Rangers in First (Sept. 15 vs. Astros), 10 p.m. Dec. 25; 7 a.m. Dec. 26; 3 p.m. Jan. 1
No. 1: Rangers Clinch AL West (Oct. 4 vs. Angels); 11 p.m. Dec. 25; 8 a.m. Dec. 26; 4 p.m. Jan. 1
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760