Rangers go with 6-man rotation for at least one turn

Rangers go with 6-man rotation for at least one turn

The Texas Rangers will break out the long-discussed six-man rotation for at least one turn this week. Manager Jeff Banister said on Sunday that right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx will stay in the rotation and make his second start of the season on Tuesday at Seattle. Left-hander Matt Moore is set to come

Rangers go for series victory versus Royals

Rangers go for series victory versus Royals

The Texas Rangers have, by necessity due to a slew of injuries, relied on their young players to pick up the slack though most of the first quarter of the 2018 season. The Royals will send right-hander Jason Hammel (1-5, 5.70 ERA) to the mound Sunday afternoon in the series finale at Globe Life Park

Better than Beltre? That's right — Computers say Isiah Kiner-Falefa's defense tops five-time Gold Glover

Better than Beltre? That's right — Computers say Isiah Kiner-Falefa's defense tops five-time Gold Glover

ARLINGTON — The Rangers are getting better defense at third base from rookie Isiah Kiner-Falefa than decorated veteran Adrian Beltre, according to analytical sources.

The Total Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Average, from baseball-reference.com, on Saturday listed Kiner-Falefa as tied for eighth at plus-3. Beltre, a five-time Gold Glove winner, was next to last at minus-7.

The Fielding Bible, from Baseball Info Solutions, had Kiner-Falefa tied for seventh in runs saved at plus-3. Beltre was at plus-1.

The Rangers drafted Kiner-Falefa as a shortstop and also used him at second, third and catcher in the minors. With Beltre on the disabled list for the second time this season because of a strained left hamstring, Kiner-Falefa has started 11 of the last 12 games at third.

“The more you play somewhere, your reaction gets better,” Kiner-Falefa said. “Once your reaction gets better, you’re better able to know your surroundings and what you can do.”

Kiner-Falefa handled three chances in an overall strong showing by the Rangers’ defense during a 4-3 win in 10 innings against Kansas City.

Manager Jeff Banister said it is too soon to determine if Kiner-Falefa is better suited to stay at one position. The Rangers value him for his versatility. He has started 17 games at second and third.

“He’s showing us the skill set,” Banister said. “The appeal is his versatility. How that plays out over the long haul is to be seen.”

Never enough: The Rangers’ player-development system is deepest at catcher and center field. That will not deter scouting director Kip Fagg in the draft, which starts on June 4.

“I don’t think you can ever have enough of anything,” Fagg said. “If they’re good, we’re going to want them. . … If a center fielder is the best player, we’re not going to shy away. You might lose out on a guy.”

A center fielder or a catcher can be used at multiple positions in the minors. For example, the Rangers have three catching prospects — Sam Huff, Melvin Novoa and Yohel Pozo — at Low-A Hickory. They are rotating from catcher to first base to designated hitter.

Click here to learn more about this year’s MLB Draft.

Briefly: Manager Jeff Banister deciphered Kansas City reliever Jeff Keller’s time to the plate and had Joey Gallo running in the sixth inning. Gallo stole second and scored the tying run. “We have to do those types of things,” Banister said. 

— After striking out in his previous seven at-bats against Royals starter Ian Kennedy, Gallo broke through and had a run-scoring double off him. “He’s gotten me pretty good, but that was a long time ago,” Gallo said. 

— If Matt Moore can come off the disabled list on Tuesday at Seattle, the Rangers could go with six starters for at least one turn through the rotation, Banister said. That would mean another start for right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx. If Moore (right knee) cannot be activated, Bibens-Dirkx will take the turn.

Twitter: @gfraley

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Some like it hot: 97-degree day can't rattle Bartolo Colon in pursuit of Latin American greats

Some like it hot: 97-degree day can't rattle Bartolo Colon in pursuit of Latin American greats

ARLINGTON — Bartolo Colon made career start No. 537 on Saturday at Globe Life Park. It had never been as hot in the previous starts as it was on this day.

The first-pitch temperature was 97 degrees. It had dropped all the way to 95 for the last of his 102 pitches.

The ageless Colon, two days past his 45th birthday, held up well. He kept the game under control after allowing three runs in the third inning and lasted seven innings in a gallant no-decision.

Too late to reward Colon, the Rangers defeated Kansas City 4-3 on Shin-Soo Choo’s homer in the 10th inning.

“The most important thing is that we won,” said Colon, speaking through an interpreter. “If I would have won, that’s fine. But the deal is you have to try to win the game.”

This marked the third time in the last four games the Rangers have overcome a multi-run deficit to win. They did that twice in the previous 50 games.

“Every victory now is a huge plus for us,” manager Jeff Banister said. “When you have to come back and grind through some at-bats, it’s huge. It’s a confidence builder for the group.”

It was career homer No. 176 for Choo, allowing him to pass Hideki Matsui for the all-time lead among Asian-born players.

“In 2015, I was the first Asian-born player to have a cycle,” Choo said. “Always first. My dad told me when I was young, “Always first. You need to be first. In sports, people think about the first person.’ I remembered that.”

Colon is chasing his own personal achievements.

With 242 wins, he is one behind Hall of Famer Juan Marichal for the most victories by a native of the Dominican Republic. Colon is also three wins behind Dennis Martinez, of Nicaragua, for the most victories by a native of Latin America.

That was on Banister’s mind late in the game.

It was why he sent Colon back out for the seventh. His 33-year-old mound opponent, right-hander Ian Kennedy, was pulled after five innings and 90 pitches because of the heat.

It was also why Banister stayed with Colon after he gave up a lead-off double by Hunter Dozier, of Denton. Colon got the next three outs to keep the game tied.

“We’re fighting for him, too,” Banister said. “There are milestones out there for him as well. Each one of these guys on our team understand that.”

Colon said he appreciated that Banister gave him one more inning in hopes of getting a win. He expected to be removed after Dozier’s double and was fortified by staying in the game.

As for catching Marichal, the first target on the list?

“I don’t think much about Marichal,” Colon said. “If it comes, it will come.”

The heat was no problem for someone who grew up in the tropical Dominican climate, Colon said.

“I’m used to it,” Colon said. “It doesn’t bother me.”

Kansas City’s ability to handle fastballs early in the count was more of a problem to Colon. The Royals got four hits on fastballs in the third and built a 3-0 lead.

Colon, as he always does, adjusted. He worked in more slow breaking pitches and put the Royals off-balance. They had only one runner past first base in his final four innings.

“It was hot and long,” said Joey Gallo, who had a run-scoring double in the fourth and a vital steal in the sixth. “For Bartolo to go out and keep competing and give us a chance was huge.”

Colon will go after Marichal again next week, probably at the Los Angeles Angels if the Rangers go with one rotation turn with six starters as is being discussed. It will not be 97 at game time.

Twitter: @gfraley

Homers by Asian-born players

A look at the all-time MLB leaders in home runs by Asian-born players:

Player, Country HRs

Shin-Soo Choo, S. Korea

176

Hideki Matsui, Japan

175

Ichiro Suzuki, Japan

117

Kenji Johjima, Japan

48

Tadahito Iguchi, Japan

44

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