Ryan Rua, trust me, tore through Cactus League pitching this spring like a dust devil through a trailer park.
He batted .404 with an on-base percentage of .443 and an OPS of 1.092.
But when the bell rang for the Texas Rangers’ regular season, Rua found himself watching from the dugout. Expected to platoon with lefty Mitch Moreland at first base, the right-handed hitting Rua instead found himself relegated to a fill-in role.
He had only 44 official at-bats when Rangers manager Jeff Banister inserted him into the lineup at first base Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox.
When the final stage of a remarkable Rangers comeback rolled around in the eighth inning, however, Rua showed that he was up to the task.
His three-run home run climaxed a seven-run inning and carried the Rangers over the White Sox 13-11.
"That’s why he's on this club," Banister said. "He's made the club by what he was able to do in spring training. He showed us the ability to drive the ball and to put professional at-bats together.
"He's another guy that sat on that bench and waited for his opportunity to get into the game."
Rua had two other hits and finished with four RBIs, as the Rangers came back from an 11-6 deficit.
He crushed reliever Matt Albers’ 1-2 pitch high onto the green hill beyond center field.
"I knew I hit it good," Rua said, "but with the wind and the elements, you never know. It was a great feeling, a great team win."
Rua had to rummage his memory to recall his last game-winning hit.
"Maybe a walk-off grand slam in Double-A was my last one," he said.
In all, the two teams used eight pitchers, and 24 runs and 30 hits were recorded.