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A reflection on Nomar Mazara and his time with the Rangers

On Tuesday, the Rangers and White Sox did some late-night dealing that sent Rangers’ outfielder Nomar Mazara to Chicago. In exchange the Rangers receive a twenty-four year old Prosper native, Steele Walker, a left-handed centerfielder. All-day Tuesday, Maz’s name surfaced in trade rumors as the Rangers looked to deal a left-handed corner outfielder, something Jon Daniels and Chris Woodward made clear at the end of the season. It seemed inevitable that it was going to be Mazara with Gallo and Calhoun blossoming, and Choo still amid a hefty contract. Finally, an hour before midnight, the deal was done.

Mazara made his major league debut on April 10, 2016, at Angel Stadium, sixteen days before his twenty-first birthday. In that game, Maz went three for four knocking his first Major League home run (what would be the lone run for the Rangers that day) and displaying a fantastic arm in right field. The bottom line, Rangers fans, and the coaching staff loved what they saw in 2016 from Mazara. Nomar had the “it” factor of being a potential MVP. In his first big league month, Maz finished it going 21 for 63 with seven RBI and seven walks including an OPS of .852. However, his rookie season ended on a decline, and while a .266 average with twenty home runs and .739 OPS isn’t awful, it felt a little bittersweet considering the success early.

Mazara was a player favorite in the clubhouse. He lived up to his “Big Chill” nickname as he never let anything negatively get to him. I walked into the clubhouse daily hours before each game, and one of the first things I’d see is Nomar sitting at his locker, either relaxing or joking with guys around him (Willie, Joey, and Rougie). After every game, Mazara was one of only a few players that would always be at his locker ready for media to answer questions, good or bad (Rougned Odor is the other). His teammates loved him, and the coaching staff loved him.

Mazara’s consistency was the biggest knock on his tenure with the Texas Rangers. Don’t get me wrong, consistency is usually good, and coaches preach it, but the Rangers viewed All-Star and MVP potential in Mazara, and there still can be. In 2019 certain circumstances brought Maz’s lack of progression under a microscope. In early July, the Rangers sent Willie Calhoun to AAA when Hunter Pence came off the injured list because there was not enough room. One of the top questions that came to mind was sending down Nomar Mazara because of his lack of progression in his production. Maz’s name was near the top of the list to trade in late July, but no deal finalized. His 2019 season ended prematurely due to an oblique strain in what became an injury prone 2019 campaign.

In mid-July, Chris Woodward talked about Mazara’s lack of improvement and if what we saw is who Nomar is as a player on the field. “We talked about that a lot. We talk about that with every player, is there more, is there a higher level they can go to, physically, mentally, spiritually, everything.” Woody later added, “As long as he’s here, we’ll continue to push him. That’s something for Jon Daniels and I to discuss and say, “is this the best we’re ever going to see him?” Until we get to that point where we both put our heads together and say “well, we tried everything we could, that’s the most we’re ever going to get out of him.” But maybe, until we see something other than what we’ve seen.”

The Rangers tried everything they could, and with the circumstances falling into place, Nomar Mazara is now a member of the Chicago White Sox. The Rangers and Mazara reunite Saturday, February 29, for Spring Training in Surprise and the regular season on April 16 in Chicago. White Sox fans will have this to look forward to.

Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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