After a disheartening four-game sweep in Houston put the Rangers at 17-21 and seemingly on course for the cold streak that would bury their season, the team has responded by winning six out of their last eight to get back to .500 at 23-23 entering Wednesday. One of the biggest sparks for the Rangers clubhouse and lineup during this stretch has been the arrival of heralded prospect Willie Calhoun.
Once Calhoun was recalled from Triple-A Nashville for last Wednesday’s win in Kansas City, his performance made it clear he intended to stay in the major leagues for good. In his six games so far, the main return piece the Rangers got in the 2017 Yu Darvish trade with the Dodgers collected an impressive 10 hits over 23 at bats. Unfortunately, Calhoun had to leave Tuesday night’s game after running to first base and bothering something in his quadricep. It was revealed before Wednesday’s game against the Mariners that the injury would put the red-hot slugger on the 10 day injured list and bring center fielder Delino DeShields back to the majors after being demoted not too long ago.
Rangers have placed OF Willie Calhoun on the 10-day injured list with a left quad strain. OF Delino DeShields has been recalled from Nashville.
— John Blake (@RangerBlake) May 22, 2019
This is disappointing news following the excitement that Calhoun exploding onto the scene brought to the Rangers fans and their clubhouse. I had a chance to speak to him following Sunday’s extra-innings win over the Cardinals and it was very clear what was his favorite part of being back in the big leagues.
“Just being back with all my friends,” the 24-year-old said with a smile. “I spent a lot of time with them in the offseason. Everyone got really close. To be back with them is cool.”
It’s safe to say the Rangers front office and their players knew Calhoun would earn his way back to the majors after not making the Opening Day roster out of spring training, but it still must have felt pretty good for Calhoun to get back and see his friends when he walked into the clubhouse in Kansas City last week.
“Everyone was happy. It feels good when you reunite with them.”
Even though his return to the major league roster seemed like a formality, the promotion only coming six or so weeks into the season was the result of him proving his worth with Nashville. As much as the desire to produce at a level that would force the Rangers to bring him up must have been there for Calhoun, he didn’t let himself push too much.
“The biggest thing for me was not trying to do too much or putting too much pressure on myself. That’s when you try that much harder and the game becomes that much harder.”
In 32 games with Nashville, Calhoun had a .973 OPS with eight homers and 22 RBI. With much of that coming after a slow start, the Rangers had an easy choice for next guy to bring up when Elvis Andrus went down with an injury.
It isn’t easy for manager Chris Woodward to fill out a lineup card everyday with the emergence of guys like Logan Forsythe, Danny Santana and Hunter Pence putting pressure on incumbent starters like Rougned Odor and DeShields earlier in the season. Despite this, Calhoun says there is no chance of a bad vibe in a competitive Rangers clubhouse.
“It’s a good vibe. Everyone is friends. We’re just here to play baseball, give it our all and try to win. Everyone helps everybody out. No one’s going to hold back. Everyone wants to win and that’s the biggest thing.”
The Rangers are winning more than anyone expected them to so far this season and now they’ll have to continue that without the hot bat of Calhoun. Hopefully his injury doesn’t linger too far beyond the ten days he’s designated to be on the injured list, but whenever he’s back, major league pitchers better look out.
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