Texas Rangers

Gonzalez struggles as Rangers evaluate their own amid NY drizzle

Rangers manager Jeff Banister argues with crew chief Paul Nauert after umpires decided to call a rain delay in the ninth.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister argues with crew chief Paul Nauert after umpires decided to call a rain delay in the ninth. AP

The phone of general manager Jon Daniels isn’t blowing up at all hours just yet, but communication with his counterparts on other clubs is starting to pick up with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline drawing closer.

Nothing is imminent, Daniels said Monday at Yankee Stadium. The Texas Rangers are biding their time, perhaps needing as long as two weeks to get a handle on what their needs truly are.

As of last week, when Colby Lewis and Derek Holland joined fellow starter Yu Darvish on the disabled list, starting pitching became an issue. The bullpen’s lack of depth has been an on-going issue.

Daniels, though, said that the Rangers want to see what they have in-house first before diving into the trade market.

Chi Chi Gonzalez is probably tops on the must-see list, so his 2016 debut Monday to open a four-game series against the New York Yankees was no ordinary spot start in place of Lewis.

It also wasn’t a winning start, though the Rangers still had a chance at press time.

Gonzalez allowed five runs on 10 hits in five innings as the Yankees twice erased deficits against him en route to a 6-5 lead when umpires halted the game because of rain with no outs in the ninth inning.

If the game were to resume, the Rangers would have Robinson Chirinos at first base and Shin-Soo Choo batting with a 3-1 count and no outs.

Each New York hit against Gonzalez was a single, including three bloopers that netted a run in the third, but Gonzalez wasn’t just undone by bad luck.

While the Rangers weren’t entirely discouraged by Gonzalez’s outing, they will continue to evaluate him and others in the organization before deciding what to do before the trade deadline.

“The big thing for us right now is getting to the point where we know where our guys are, both the guys coming back injury-wise and also some of the guys we called up,” Daniels said.

“Right now, if we’re going to do anything externally, it would likely be on the pitching side, but it remains to be seen what’s going to be available. We’re still spending most of our time getting our arms around our guys.”

Ian Desmond homered and drove in two runs, and Choo had two hits and two RBIs as the Rangers took leads of 1-0 and 4-3. Rougned Odor connected for a solo shot in the eighth, and the Rangers got their leadoff man on in the ninth as Chirinos walked against hard-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman.

Choo faced a 3-1 count when Yankees manager Joe Girardi went to the umpires to complain that the mound was unplayable after four innings worth of rain. The umps quickly called for the tarp.

If the Rangers were to rally for a win, it wouldn’t undo their rotation issues.

The Rangers are going to be without Lewis the longest, as a strained lat muscle will keep him out at least two months. Holland (shoulder inflammation) and Darvish (shoulder tightness) might not return until after the All-Star break.

So, the Rangers are looking to see if they can survive with someone in the organization until Lewis returns. The advent of the second wild-card entry into the postseason has teams waiting longer and longer to decide if they will trade away players or make a playoff push.

The sense is that the Rangers won’t miss out on a starter by using the next two weeks to evaluate their own pitchers.

“Some things occasionally happen quicker,” Daniels said. “But most things happen post-All-Star Game.”

Gonzalez was the choice from three candidates at Triple A Round Rock, the others being veteran right-hander Kyle Lohse and left-hander Michael Roth. Though Roth threw a two-hitter Sunday and is the Pacific Coast League’s ERA leader, the Rangers deemed Gonzalez to be the most ready of the trio.

Nick Martinez, who will start Wednesday, is part of the internal group the Rangers are scouting.

One thing the Rangers wanted to see Gonzalez do more in 2015 as a rookie and again this season is create more of a velocity difference between his fastball and off-speed pitches. While he’s done more of that with the addition of a curveball, he still isn’t able to keep hitters off-balance or put them away.

Gonzalez struck out only two batters. When he wasn’t getting early contact, he was left trying to induce weak contact or have balls hit at defenders in deep counts. Sometimes, it worked. Too often, though, it didn’t.

The Yankees pieced together three singles and a groundout in the second to take a 2-1 lead. In the third, Gonzalez got the first out on a sliding catch by Desmond, but Desmond lost Carlos Beltran’s popup on the next pitch and it fell for a single.

After a walk to Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira and Starlin Castro each followed with a blooper to center to make it 3-2. A double play got Gonzalez out of the inning without further damage.

Up 4-3 in the fifth on the strength of Choo’s two-out two-run single in the fourth, Gonzalez issued singles to the first three hitters as the Yankees pulled even and then a two-out single to Didi Gregorius to break the tie.

A seventh-inning homer by Mark Teixeira off Luke Jackson, on a drive that doesn’t leave the vast majority of American League ballparks, made it 6-4, and Odor countered in the eighth with a deep solo shot.

Rangers at Yankees

6:05 p.m. Tuesday, FSSW

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