No time to change socks, still time for 1st hit

Apostel takes roster spot of Andrus (back), whose return is in doubt

September 13th, 2020

ARLINGTON -- Rookie infielder had a normal Saturday at the Rangers' alternate training site across the street from Globe Life Field.

“Batting practice, everything, running, sprinting, taking ground balls -- everything,” Apostel said. “I was like, ‘I'm done for the day.’ So I got home, I ate ... started watching Netflix and I was taking a nap.”

When Apostel woke up, he realized Paul Kruger, the Rangers' director of Minor League operations, was trying to reach him. Apostel’s normal day suddenly turned surreal.

"Get ready and start running in your apartment, get loose," Kruger told Apostel, "because you're playing in the next game."

It was 6:20 p.m. CT, and the Rangers had just finished a 5-2 victory over the Athletics in Game 1 of their doubleheader. Game 2 was getting ready to start, and the Rangers were putting shortstop on the injured list with a strained lower back. Shortstop Anderson Tejeda couldn’t play because of a stomach virus.

The Rangers needed Apostel, their No. 10 prospect, to play third base. They needed him to make his Major League debut, and he needed to get to Globe Life Field in a hurry. His Arlington apartment is seven minutes away, and the game was starting at 6:45 p.m.

"Everything was rushed,” Apostel said. “I couldn't even get my clothes on. It was like, ‘Are you ready, are you ready? Let's go. You gotta go.' Everything was fast. I didn't even have a chance to change my socks. I just kept the socks I had on at home, the same boxers. I basically just put baseball clothes on top of everything I had."

Kruger picked up Apostel, and off they went.

“He was like getting mad at the red lights,” Apostel said. “He was like, 'Come on! Come on!' I was like, 'Paul, take it easy. Are you trying to die?' But he was trying to get there. It was a little bit rushed. Every light kept turning red. It gave me time to calm myself down, get a little bit settled. But at the same time, I was trying to get there to be on time to play.”

Apostel made it. He had time to call his mom, and that was it. The ball found him quickly. He misplayed his first ground ball for an error in the Athletics' seven-run second inning as part of Texas' 10-1 loss, which saw fellow rookie, Sam Huff, also collect his first hit.

“No time to prepare,” Apostel said. “No time to put your mind on that and just go and enjoy it. I just bobbled it and it's like, 'Yes, it's time to wake up. It's real.'”

Apostel ended up doing all right. He grounded out and struck out in his first two at-bats and then singled in the seventh inning on a line drive to left field for his first Major League hit.

“I mean, it was nice. It was a good experience, like about every player's dream,” Apostel said. “I was trying to enjoy it as much as I can. Don't put a lot of stress on myself, try to be as much chill as I can be ... give me the courage to be calm and enjoy the game. Don't stress yourself, there's a lot of pressure already, just go enjoy it, and that's what I did.”

For Andrus, meanwhile, this is the second time he has been placed on the IL because of back problems. He was sidelined from Aug. 20-30, and this could likely be it for him this season. Manager Chris Woodward said it’s unlikely that the shortstop will play again in 2020.

“He may get [an anti-inflammation] shot in his back, which would put him out of commission, and we only have a couple weeks left,” Woodward said. “It wouldn’t make sense to get him back out there for two or three games if he’s not going to be 100 percent.”

Apostel is here, but he may not get that much playing time. There is a possibility he could go back to alternate training site on Tuesday, when Willie Calhoun is expected to be activated off the injured list.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa started at shortstop in Game 2, but he will go back to third when Tejeda is recovered from his stomach bug. Woodward said Tejeda will get the bulk of the playing time down the stretch.

Still, Apostel had a Major League debut unlike any other on Saturday night.