Gil LeBreton

No surrender — yet — for Banister, Rangers

Jeff Banister and the Rangers have an attractive trade chip in Adrian Beltre, but they aren’t ready to concede defeat.
Jeff Banister and the Rangers have an attractive trade chip in Adrian Beltre, but they aren’t ready to concede defeat. Star-Telegram

Against all readily apparent odds, the sun did come up Saturday at Globe Life Park.

Players reported for duty. Nobody defected to East Berlin overnight. The gates opened. A loyal weekend audience of 35,000 cheered.

And the Texas Rangers wore their red jerseys. Not black.

One day after losing lefty Derek Holland, the team’s best pitcher standing, there was a ball game here Saturday night, not a wake.

Instead of calling in a shrink, the Rangers comforted themselves by looking at the calendar.

“I’m not going to hang my head,” manager Jeff Banister said. “This coaching staff is not going to hang their heads.

“What is this — Game 6 of 162? We’ve got 177 days to go. Man, that is a long ways to go.”

Banister wasn’t trying to be cavalier. Though this is his first season in the Texas dugout, he is well aware that a dark cloud of injuries has engulfed the franchise.

He also said he understands the tenor of the questions that the media has been asking him since the Holland news.

“I get what you’re saying,” he assured.

But it’s not time for a white flag of surrender. Don’t even look for one, Banister suggested.

A year ago, Ron Washington’s team was 29-28 and six games out of first place as June began. But the Rangers dropped six of their next eight, went on 6-15 and 3-14 losing binges and, amid an outbreak of further injuries, management surrendered to the inevitable.

The same timetable may apply this year. But in the meantime, Banister said he’d like his team to start playing better baseball.

“What can we do?” he asked. “We can be better. We can be better at the little things it takes to win a baseball game.

“Let’s focus on those things, and we’ll move on to tomorrow after tonight.”

Most managers, of course, would say the same things. Banister knows that managers are judged on how many games they win.

But he doesn’t see his dual role — as manager and as general manager Jon Daniels’ philosophical “partner” in the franchise — as a balancing act.

“As a manager,” he said, “I hope I never lose the sight of the future of the organization. You always keep the bigger picture in mind. Looking forward, not getting selfish.

“And I get where you’re going.”

The games will go on, Banister was saying. And it’s his job to try to win them.

“I’m not going to get caught up in thinking about what I don’t have, or what the possibilities are of what we could have,” he said. “When the time is right and everybody in this organization feels it’s the right time to have certain players in place, then we’ll keep those players in place or put them in place, and we’ll move forward.

“But I’m not going to get caught up in any other thought process. I’m not.”

The unmentioned elephant in the corner of the discussion room was third baseman Adrian Beltre, likely future Hall of Famer and likely the Rangers’ most attractive trade chip. Beltre is the white flag. When he goes, it means Daniels and the gang are turning their attentions to 2016.

Surely, there are contending teams that could use a Hall of Fame-bound third baseman. The Los Angeles Dodgers have often been identified as one.

The trade price would start with rookie outfielder Joc Pederson and 18-year-old lefty Julio Urias. A lofty price, but Beltre is a special player and person.

Maybe, though, it doesn’t come to that. Maybe pitcher Anthony Ranaudo arrives from Round Rock this week and makes Holland’s injured shoulder an afterthought.

Maybe there is no surrender. After all, the sun did come up at the ballpark Saturday.

But know this — the new manager understands what we’re asking.

In the meantime, he has a job to do.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @gilebreton

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram