Texas Rangers

Rangers give Ian Desmond break after 59 straight starts

Rangers center fielder Ian Desmond, left, celebrates with manager Jeff Banister during a game. Desmond didn’t start Wednesday for the first time since April 16, but entered in the seventh inning and hit a solo home run to give him 12 for the season.
Rangers center fielder Ian Desmond, left, celebrates with manager Jeff Banister during a game. Desmond didn’t start Wednesday for the first time since April 16, but entered in the seventh inning and hit a solo home run to give him 12 for the season. Special to the Star-Telegram

Ian Desmond had started 59 consecutive games until getting the night off Wednesday. If it was up to Desmond, of course, it would have been 60 in a row.

When manager Jeff Banister pulled him after the seventh inning Tuesday with the Rangers down big Desmond took it as a sign that perhaps he’d be back in the lineup Wednesday.

“We were having fun with it. He wouldn’t talk to me for two innings,” Banister said. As they were walking up to the clubhouse after the game, Desmond conceded the plan, which had been discussed for a week.

“I get it, we have to pass the ball every once in a while,” Desmond told Banister.

Ian Desmond started 59 consecutive games until getting Wednesday night off. He’s played in a team-high 71 of 72 games.

Ryan Rua made his first-career start in center. He replaced Desmond on Tuesday and played there three innings on June 13.

But Desmond came in for Rua in the seventh inning Wednesday and picked up where he left off, hitting a leadoff home run to give Texas a 5-1 lead.

He’s special. Intangibles ... off the charts.

Jeff Banister on Ian Desmond

Desmond didn’t want to sit April 16 either. He struggled the first two weeks of the season before getting the day off. It turned into three days down when the April 17 game was rained out, followed by an off day.

Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre says that outfielder Ian Desmond is the best bet to be picked to the All-Star team (video by Jeff Wilson).

Since April 19, Desmond has led the club in nearly every offensive category. He’s batting .353 with 11 homers, 19 doubles, 45 RBIs and 44 runs scored during the stretch before Wednesday. Overall, he has 88 hits, 16 more than Nomar Mazara, who is second on the team.

“He’s the first guy in that clubhouse in a full uniform every single day,” Banister said. “He’s special. Intangibles ... off the charts.”

Desmond days

Ian Desmond has played in 59 consecutive games before getting Wednesday off. Since April 16, he’s led the Rangers in nearly every offensive category:

Category

Since April 19

BA

.353

OPS

.984

SLG

.583

OBP

.401

RBI

45

R

44

HR

11

2B

19

SB

12

Ian Desmond said his two-run, go-ahead homer in the eighth was set up by teammates making key plays and strong pitching by Cole Hamels (Video by Stefan Stevenson/Star-Telegram).

Darvish update

Yu Darvish could throw a bullpen session as early as Friday, according to Banister. He continued playing catch on flat ground before Wednesday’s game. Pitching coach Doug Brocail said Darvish is still at least a week from making a rehab start or pitching a simulated game.

He has been on the disabled list since June 9 with right shoulder discomfort. He has yet to throw off a mound since leaving his last start after five inning on June 8. It was his third start since returning from Tommy John surgery.

Action Jackson

Right-handed reliever Luke Jackson rejoined the club from Triple A Round Rock with Derek Holland going on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation.

Jackson was sent down June 9 when Robinson Chirinos was activated. He threw well in three long-relief appearances with the Express before the return. He allowed three hits and five walks with eight strikeouts in 7 1/3 scoreless innings during the stretch.

“I felt really good down there,” he said. “I was getting ahead of hitters, throwing my slider for strikes early.”

Matuella shut down

Right-hander Michael Matuella, the Rangers third-round pick in 2015, has a sprained elbow ligament and will not pitch again in 2016.

Matuella had a stem-cell injection in the ligament and will not throw for six weeks. He’ll have another MRI in August.

Matuella, who received a $2 million signing bonus as the No. 78 overall pick out of Duke University, had Tommy John surgery in April 2015. He felt tightness during his first professional start for Spokane on Friday.

Weekends tickets

Tickets for the Friday and Saturday games against the Red Sox are nearly sold out. Only approximately 2,000 reserved seats remain for Friday and only obstructed view seats and singles remain for Saturday. Standing room only tickets will be available Thursday at texasrangers.com.

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST

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