Texas Rangers

Rangers’ Banister: Profar needs 4 games a week for long-term stay

Jurickson Profar having fun as Rangers keep winning

Jurickson Profar homered in he fifth and singled in a three-run eighth as the Rangers improved to 4-1 with Profar in the lineup this season (video by Jeff Wilson).
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Jurickson Profar homered in he fifth and singled in a three-run eighth as the Rangers improved to 4-1 with Profar in the lineup this season (video by Jeff Wilson).

Not a day has gone by this week at Progressive Field when the immediate future of Jurickson Profar wasn’t a topic during Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister’s daily pregame session with the media.

On Wednesday, ahead of the series finale against the Cleveland Indians, Banister said that the Rangers would likely need to find four games a week for Profar if they decide to keep him on the roster long term after Rougned Odor returns from a seven-game suspension.

A short-term bench role, though, likely wouldn’t be detrimental to Profar’s development as he continues to need to pile up at-bats and adjust his body to playing every day after missing the past two seasons.

I don’t think we want Jurickson sitting on the bench for a long period of time. The best thing for him is to continue to play.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister

“In Jurickson’s case, I think the concern and need with him is the everyday process,” Banister said. “When you haven’t played every day for two years, getting the body back up to speed to play every day and continue to play every day, we need to make sure we monitor that.

“I don’t think we want Jurickson sitting on the bench for a long period of time. The best thing for him is to continue to play.”

Banister said that four games a week would allow Profar to stay sharp and for his body to continue to feel the grind of a baseball season. The Rangers don’t seem inclined to put him in the outfield or at third base, so it’s hard to imagine Profar getting four games a week between second base, shortstop and designated hitter.

But Profar has been a cog in the Rangers’ attack while Odor has been out. He has collected a hit in all six of his games this season, and on Tuesday homered, singled and scored twice as the Rangers won their fourth straight game.

He doubled and singled in five at-bats with a run Wednesday.

Odor can return Saturday after serving the penalty for punching Jose Bautista on May 15.

Adjustment needed

Right-hander Matt Bush retired only one of the four batters he faced Tuesday as he worked for the 10th time in 17 games since he joined the Rangers on May 13 after a managed workload at Double A Frisco.

Fatigue isn’t an issue, Bush said, but he needs to make an adjustment after the league has started adjusting to him. The right-hander is a premium strike-thrower, and opposing hitters are starting to swing early and often.

He threw nine pitches, eight strikes, and the Indians swung at every strike.

9 Hits allowed by Matt Bush in his past five games after allowing two in his first five

“I think it’s obvious I’m throwing more than I’ve been used to, but my arm feels good and I’m happy because I love being out there in games,” Bush said.

“It’s obvious how much guys have been swinging at me the last few games, especially on the first pitch. Everyone knows I’m throwing strikes. It’s up to me to stay confident with my stuff and my strength but definitely mix things up a little.”

Bush said that his command is good enough that he can intentionally miss off the plate either to make a batter chase away or inside to get a batter off the plate and from getting too comfortable.

The Indians’ three hits in four at-bats pushed Bush’s opponents’ average to .275. He has allowed multiple hits in four of his past five appearances.

Darvish OK on limit

Yu Darvish is scheduled to make his second start of the season Friday against Seattle after returning from Tommy John surgery, and again will be on a pitch count.

He threw only 81 pitches in five innings in his season debut while on a limit of 85 to 90 pitches. He’ll be allowed to top out at 95 against the Mariners.

Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish had a normal recovery after is 2016 debut last week and says that his surgically repaired elbow is "totally fine" (video by Jeff Wilson).

“Right now, I don’t know if I want to push him to 100,” Banister said. “That 85 to 95 [window], and a lot of that is dependent on how he gets to that.”

That’s fine by Darvish, who was glad to have 14 months to recover rather than 12 months. He might be held to a pitch count for a month or longer.

81 Pitches thrown by Yu Darvish over five innings in his 2016 debut after Tommy John surgery

“It’s better to have a pitch count than they push you and you overpitch,” Darvish said.

Catcher Robinson Chirinos remains on track to catch Darvish’s fourth start, which if the rotation stays in order would fall June 13 at Oakland. Chirinos (broke right ulna) and Shin-Soo Choo (strained left hamstring) are scheduled to fly to extended spring training in Arizona to continue their rehab without weather interruptions.

Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish relied on his fastball last week in his debut, but that doesn't necessarily mean it will be is primary pitch Friday (video by Jeff Wilson).

Chirinos is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list June 9. Choo can come off the 15-day DL Sunday but won’t be activated until he plays back-to-back nine-inning games in the field, possibly late next week.

Drew Stubbs (sprained left toe) is eligible to return Tuesday, but isn’t even running or taking live batting practice.

Left-hander Cole Hamels said a first-inning walk was his biggest slip up in a tight game that ended with the Rangers losing 5-4 (video by Jeff Wilson).

The Rangers stayed away from their top relievers Wednesday in a 5-4 loss to give them some needed rest, said manager Jeff Banister (video by Jeff Wilson).

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