No one can sit here and say that the record of the Texas Rangers would be totally different than 13-21 on May 5th if it weren’t for the slew of injuries they’re suffering through so far this season. Pitching struggles and a lack of timely hitting have been plaguing the team the most through their first six weeks of the 2018 season. It definitely hasn’t helped that they’re missing three of their marquee players.
Second baseman Rougned Odor went down with a hamstring injury on April 9th. Two days later, shortstop Elvis Andrus broke his elbow. The team continued to battle and then Adrian Beltre suffered a hamstring injury of his own on April 24th. All three on the disabled list and all three vital contributors to whatever this team hopes to accomplish this season.
The Rangers have continued to fight and at least tread water in the absence of their star infielders. When the team lost Beltre and their game to the Oakland Athletics on April 24th, their record was 8-17. Most assumed the team would shoot straight to the league’s worst record. While it isn’t like they’ve totally rolled since then, they’ve at least kept their head above the waves going 5-4 since then. It’s their best record of any nine game stretch so far this season and it’s thanks to the contributions from some players who most didn’t think would be relied upon this season.
Jurickson Profar and Isiah Kiner-Falefa have stepped up in the meantime to help the team slightly hang around after the injuries.
Kiner-Falefa, a 23 year-old Hawaii native, had no major league experience prior to being called up in early April has played well in a utility infielder role that has seen him start 13 games at second base, 6 at third base and 2 at shortstop so far this season. Even though he’s cooled off at the plate a bit lately, he’s still hitting a solid .266 and has even knocked a couple balls out of the park while playing spectacular defense wherever manager Jeff Banister has assigned him to go each day.
Profar, a 25 year-old who was once heralded as the top prospect in all of baseball, is finally getting a chance to play everyday at the major league level and is showing he’s up to snuff. He has shown patience at the plate in drawing 14 walks so far this season, second to Shin-Soo Choo’s 15, and boasting an on-base percentage over 100 points higher than his batting average at .337.
While both of these players have admirably held down the fort while other troops have been out, their role in the relatively near future figures to go from for sure everyday player to very foggy.
Rougned Odor is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with the Frisco Rough Riders on Saturday night and has been running the bases before games this week. According to Adam Morris of Lone Star Ball, Odor should be ready to be activated off the 10-day disabled list as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday.
Adrian Beltre has taken batting practice each of the last two nights at Globe Life Park as well.
Adrian Beltre taking batting practice on the field…Odor is with him…they also both took ground balls pic.twitter.com/Xy4S81cEL4
— TR Sullivan (@Sullivan_Ranger) May 3, 2018
While neither Profar or Kiner-Falefa are in danger of losing their spot on the major league roster, especially not Profar since he is out of minor league options, it’s difficult to imagine how Jeff Banister would manage the lineup on a daily basis once Odor is back. Throw in Beltre within the next few weeks and then Andrus sometime in June and all of a sudden there are too many guys competing for just a few spots. Obviously the trio injured right now would man their infield positions on a nightly basis, but could either Profar or Kiner-Falefa earn their way into needing an everyday role? The combination of Ryan Rua and Drew Robinson has continued to disappoint in left field, even though Robinson has virtually been the team’s second baseman recently, so maybe Profar will move to left field if his performance at the plate warrants it.
Perhaps Joey Gallo’s solid defense in the outfield, like the catch in Cleveland earlier this week, has the team committed to playing him there more and that opens up first base for Profar or Kiner-Falefa. One would suspect that current first baseman Ronald Guzman would be one of the first to go back to AAA once a roster spot is needed.
It’s even possible that Adrian Beltre’s bat is ready and healthy well before his hamstring, which it probably already is, and he could DH for a few days before heading back into the field. Would Shin-Soo Choo simply sit or would the team play him in the outfield regularly to keep his high on-base percentage in the lineup?
Questions a plenty for the Rangers but they certainly won’t reveal any answers until they’re forced to do so. The current homestand goes through Wednesday and it is starting to look like at least one infielder (Odor) will enter the fray again before the team heads to Houston next weekend.
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