Gil LeBreton

Rangers’ blend of old and new has re-energized them

Two of the Rangers’ youngest players, Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar, are infusing a youthful spirit into the team.
Two of the Rangers’ youngest players, Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar, are infusing a youthful spirit into the team. AP

It’s sorta like the old TV spots that the local stations used to run before their 10 p.m. news:

Texas Rangers, it’s the end of July … do you know where your kids are?

The kids are here, as it turns out. They’re all over the Rangers’ lineup.

The second baseman and the DH on Saturday night were both 22 years old. The left fielder was 23. The right fielder just turned 21.

When the manager was asked if he had ever seen such a lineup of youthful sprouts, Jeff Banister quickly shook his head.

“Nope,” Banister answered. “And definitely not in a pennant race.

“It’s kinda fun, though.”

For those who wondered what the future held for the Rangers’ farm system, roundly praised as overflowing with young talent, the future suddenly is upon us.

What we’re seeing are the baby steps. The bruised elbows. The skinned knees.

Sometimes, indeed, the Rangers can be as chaotic as snack time at day care. The Rangers have stumbled this season, but they keep getting to their feet to walk again.

Michael Young, Saturday night’s guest of honor, likes the blend that the Rangers are putting onto the field.

“Lot of young guys,” Young said, “with a lot of good, veteran leadership thrown in. It really is a good mix.”

It was one of the tribal elders, first baseman Mitch Moreland, age 30, who provided that winning mix Saturday with a ninth-inning, walk-off homer to defeat the Kansas City Royals 2-1.

Moreland’s current power streak could not have come at a better time — neither for the Rangers, nor for him. His game-winning homer Saturday was his sixth since the All-Star break.

Around Moreland was the new crop of kids. Jurickson Profar, 23, started in left field. Nomar Mazara, 21, was in right. Second baseman Rougned Odor and DH Joey Gallo are both 22.

Gallo and Delino DeShields, 23, have made frequent cameos in the lineup since veterans Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo went on the disabled list.

“Look, I love the energy,” Banister admitted. “You’ve got to love the youth, the excitement we’ve been seeing.

“It’s fun to watch these young guys. And you know what the other fun part is? The veteran guys, watching their excitement when those young guys are doing things. There’s something to be said about youthful exuberance on a baseball field.”

Banister described the months of July and August as the “mundane days” of the baseball season.

“We’ve talked about what happened last year,” Banister said. “We told them in spring training, ‘How good can you be when everybody else is going through Groundhog Day? Can you rise up bigger than the situation?”

Despite the stumbles, the young players have brought youthful energy into the post-All-Star-break equation.

“You have our pitching staff, led by a guy like Cole Hamels, who’s just an incredible competitor, won a title and knows what it means to play in October,” Michael said. “And you have our position players led by Adrian Beltre.

“All these young guys have an opportunity to learn from these really great veteran players. They have a chance to do something special here. It’s really a perfect mix.”

With the trading deadline Monday, the reality is that not all of the Rangers’ kiddie cast will still be in a Texas uniform at the end of this coming week.

Gallo has struggled, but Profar keeps proving that he’s a big leaguer. Either could be at the center of a deadline deal.

For now, though, they’re in the lineup. Falling down, but getting up.

With four kids in the lineup last week, the Rangers increased their AL West lead to five full games.

The future is here.

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