NEW YORK -- Everybody called him "Bop" as he had an excellent 13-year career as a second baseman in the Major Leagues.Now the Rangers will get the chance of having "Lil Bop" in their starting lineup when Delino DeShields pays tribute to his dad during Players' Weekend from Aug. 24-26.::
NEW YORK -- Everybody called him "Bop" as he had an excellent 13-year career as a second baseman in the Major Leagues.
Now the Rangers will get the chance of having "Lil Bop" in their starting lineup when Delino DeShields pays tribute to his dad during Players' Weekend from Aug. 24-26.
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That's the nickname that DeShields will have on the back of his jersey during the Rangers' three-game series against the Giants at AT&T Park. This is the second straight year players have the freedom to select a personalized nickname to wear on Players' Weekend.
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This is also the second time that DeShields has paid tribute to his father. The elder DeShields -- different middle names so they are technically not Sr. and Jr. -- played for the Expos, Dodgers, Cardinals, Orioles and Cubs and was known as "Bop" to teammates and opponents.
DeShields wore "Poppa" on the back of his jersey last year.
"My dad, ever since I can remember, he called me Poppa," DeShields said. "He still does it to this day, when he answers the phone, he says, 'What's going on Poppa?' I don't know why, but it's always been our thing. That's why I put it on my jersey last year. This year I wanted to do something different."
So, he decided on "Lil Bop."
"People who played with my dad, or played against him, know him as Bop," DeShields said. "I don't think I've ever heard my mom call him anything but Bop."
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Hey, it could have been "Delicious." Seriously.
"One of the first things that popped into my mind was when I was in high school as a freshman playing on the varsity, all the seniors called me 'Delicious,'" DeShields said. "Make me feel some kind of way, I didn't care. I understand it was part of it."
DeShields has always been eager to embrace his father's rich baseball legacy.
"Yeah, I mean ... he is my pops," DeShields said. "I was around him a lot growing up, in the clubhouse, spent a lot of time with him. There is no need to steer away from him. He has been really important to me, a large factor in how I play the game. I embrace it. I hear a lot of stuff in the stands, people saying, 'You'll never be as good as your dad.' Stuff like that. Never bothered me, he was a good player. He played a long time."
He remains close with his father -- now an instructor in the Reds' organization. After DeShields went through a tough 2016 season, his dad came to Texas from his home in Georgia during the winter and spent much time with his son talking baseball. DeShields came back stronger and better last year, raising his batting average from .209 to .269 among other significant improvements.
"He is my best coach," DeShields said. "He retired when I was 13 years old and started coaching me, went to all my high school games. He knows me like the back of his hand. If I need anything, if I am struggling, he knows how to reset me.
"I can be really scattered and sporadic with my thoughts, it's not that I like failure, but I want to be the best player I can be, so it's good to have somebody who has been through everything and can relate to me, who is just a phone call away and kind of slow down the game for me."
So, "Lil Bop" it is on Players' Weekend.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.