Results aside, a decidedly different feeling exists here in Surprise at Rangers’ camp.
There is no tension. It’s the tension created by a team that knows a change may be imminent.
There exists a feeling of optimism and acceptance of what they are, of what they are doing, rather than any misplaced expectation to think they will contend.
The easy thing to do is to blame this feeling on the absence of fired manager Jeff Banister. If that’s why the tension is gone, which is pathetic, it is merely a reality of present day pro sports in the U.S.
Ballplayers run most teams; follow the guaranteed money.
I don’t know if the Rangers quit on Banister last season, but I know they were sick of him. For this team, he was too much.
Since this team is not going to contend, the priority for new manager Chris Woodward is to at establish who he is, and what he expects from his team, and his clubhouse.
Unlike Banister, who benefited from inheriting one of the most revered figures in the game in future Hall of Fame third baseman Adrian Beltre, Woodward has no such presence to relay his message in his clubhouse.
Veteran Elvis Andrus shortstop learned from Beltre, and he has been around, and he is no Beltre.
As a player, Woodward was a 54th round draft pick who played 12 big league seasons and made it mostly as a career journeyman. He once had a 3-home run game, and he also batted .199 for an entire season.
The Rangers do not expect him to turn the team into the Dodgers this season, but at a minimum they need to establish what they are doing, and who they are.
Right now, they are just another faceless club.
Before doing that, Woodward was kind enough to play a little word-association that will shed some light on who he is.
Word Association with Chris Woodward
Player’s manager: Should be everybody.
Pitch count: Can I use more than one word? I’ll let my eyes and the numbers tell me.
Pitch clock: (long pause) Roll my eyes.
Trade deadline: Hope we go one way and not the other.
Angle velocity: Angle?
I screwed it up: Exit velocity? Or launch angle?
Yes. Those. I was thinking of both and I combined them. Go with launch angle; that’s the one I wanted: Important if you hit it hard.
Parenthood: Challenge I love.
3 home runs in a game: Fluke. Cool moment. Cool, fluke moment.
54th round: Proud.
Rebuilding: Don’t love it.
Designated hitter: Should be ... in both leagues.
Wait; that’s a knife to my heart: I was in the National League the last three years. I hated watching our pitcher’s hit. It was embarrassing.
Role model: Critical for development.
.199: Painful and rewarding.
Success: That’s a tough one. Your actions, or your work, will define you.
Failure: Critical for growth. You have to learn. You have to learn from it.
Old school: Good perspective.
Artificial grass: (smiles) Depends on what type.