The Texas Rangers want Delino DeShields to find the joy in playing baseball again, so they optioned him to Triple A Round Rock on Friday to go look for it.
“They just want me to find my identity, to start playing baseball like it’s fun again,” said DeShields, who was hitting .217 and had two hits and a walk in the past seven games. As a rookie in 2015, DeShields hit .261 with 83 runs and 25 stolen bases. He also had 53 walks and had an on-base percentage of .344.
So far in 2016, he has scored 17 runs, has 11 walks, and his OBP fell to a season-low .294 after going 1 for 4 in his last game Tuesday. Through his first 30 games (with eight fewer starts) in 2015, he batted .280 with 20 runs and 14 walks.
“I think I was putting too much on myself. Not being able to do some of those things on a daily basis it was starting to take a toll on me a little bit, and it almost took the fun out of it.
“It was almost like I was trying to work baseball and not play it. I just have to find that joy again. It’s there. I enjoy playing the game. I just think it’s gotten away from me a little bit.”
Manager Jeff Banister said Ian Desmond will get most of the time in center field with DeShields gone.
“It felt like it was time to unplug him a little bit, let him get down and do some work on playing his game, get back to who he is as a player,” Banister said. “We’re going to need Delino to be that type of player. Get back to the on-base mentality, the smart base runner, steal bases for us when he has an opportunity.”
The move is similar to when second baseman Rougned Odor was sent down a year ago this month. He returned a month later a different hitter.
“That’s it in a nutshell really,” Banister said. “You can look at the experience of Rougned. If he needs a blueprint it’s right there in front of him.”
DeShields is hoping the minor league stint will help clear his head from the many voices trying to help him snap out of a hitting slump.
“I was hoping I could find that inner peace, I guess, and every day I came to the field and nothing really changed. So this is something that needs to be done. I think it will be the best for my development,” he said. “So I can look at it as that or I can look at it as the worst thing in the world and go down there and just bury myself.”
DeShields hopes it plays out just like Odor’s demotion last season.
“I think that’s kind of what they have in mind, but me and Rougie are two different people,” DeShields said. “This is part of the process and it’s how I need to look at it.
“It’s all about the perception and how you perceive this challenge. It can eat you up or you can be positive about it and go get your work in down there, and find that identity and get back up here and help the team win.”
The Rangers signed right-hander Kyle Lohse to minor league deal. Lohse, 37, had a 5.85 ERA in 37 games (22 starts) with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2015. The deal is pending a physical.
Catcher Robinson Chirinos (right broken forearm) has thrown the past five days, including from 90 feet Friday afternoon. The earliest Chirinos could come off the 60-day disabled list is June 9.
Ramos on Sunday
Left-hander Cesar Ramos is likely to pitch Sunday’s finale with the Blue Jays, Banister said. Ramos was available out of the bullpen Friday night, but barring that, he will make the spot start Sunday.