Gil LeBreton

Feisty Rangers infielder Rougned Odor keeps marking his territory

Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor during spring training in Surprise, Ariz.
Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor during spring training in Surprise, Ariz. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

The video isn’t hard to find.

In a way, it tells you all you need to know about the temperament and feisty resolve of Rougned Roberto Odor.

Not that the Texas Rangers and their fans need any video proof.

Odor has been marking his territory and building his case for future stardom ever since the Rangers signed him at the age of 16.

Remember the notorious Bat Flip, the final dagger in the Rangers’ hearts in last season’s ALDS?

Lost in the defeat was the top half of that seventh inning, when Odor alertly dashed home after catcher Russell Martin’s throw back to the pitcher hit Shin-Soo Choo’s bat.

A lengthy video review and umpire huddle ensued before declaring Odor safe. And in the next instant, the Rogers Centre crowd began raining empty Labatt’s bottles and popcorn boxes onto the playing field. One clown made it all the way to the edge of the Texas dugout and was firing in empties when the police hauled him away.

In the 2011 video, that was a 17-year-old Odor — with a full head of hair — who ignited a bench- and bullpen-clearing brawl by taking issue with something the opposing shortstop said. The Northwest League issued 51 fines and suspended six, including Odor, for the incident.

And remember the juicy clip in Houston, where Rangers manager Jeff Banister tried to animatedly make his point to Astros manager A.J. Hinch?

Odor started that whole thing, too, when Houston catcher Hank Conger told him to quit wasting time and get in the batter’s box.

He’s a pest, in other words. And while, in just three short seasons, Rangers fans have grown to enjoy the little second baseman from Venezuela, other American League teams are fast learning to hate him.

Add the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to that list. It was Odor’s slide into second base — hard and late — that could have seriously injured the Angels’ Johnny Giavotella. Odor’s left foot landed squarely upon Giavotella’s shin.

“Reckless,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia called it.

It didn’t matter, apparently, that Odor went to the Angels’ clubhouse later to apologize. He’s been branded. Baseball being baseball, opposing teams are going to want to retaliate this season.

Not that Odor cares. He turned 22 last month, but he can play with the confidence of a veteran.

“I’m just trying to play like a man,” Odor said this week at the Rangers’ spring training camp. “I don’t feel like a rookie or a veteran this year.

“I’m just going to play like I know I can play.”

Batting only .144 on May 8 last year and seemingly lost at the plate, Odor was sent down to Triple A Round Rock to get his young head straight.

Get back to being yourself, Odor was told.

“I was feeling bad, not playing right,” he said. “At the plate I was doing a couple of things, using my body a little bit too much instead of my hands. So that’s what happened — see my pitch and use my hands.

“I don’t want to go back down anymore. I went down to the minor leagues and sorted out everything, and I came back playing like I know how to play.”

He returned to the big leagues June 15 and hasn’t stumbled since. From that date to the end of the season — 91 games — Odor batted .292 with 15 home runs and an .861 OPS.

The Rangers have no intention of asking him to alter his fiery play.

“No,” Banister said. “You start asking guys to play a certain way, and you take away their personality and what they do.”

Banister added Wednesday, “He creates a certain tempo for us. I think our guys feed off that.”

Baseball being baseball, the Angels and Astros are likely to send Odor greetings this season. But it’s not going to change Rougned Odor.

Before Jose Bautista’s over-the-top bat flip in Game 5, there was the rest of Odor’s at-bat in that bench-clearing shovefest in Houston.

Odor lined a triple onto the center field hill — and then flipped the bat defiantly toward the Astros dugout.

Just marking his territory, of course.

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