Rangers value Mathis as mentor, leader

September 17th, 2020

ARLINGTON -- could be the last catcher standing for the Rangers this season.

Texas has traded Robinson Chirinos, and there is a growing possibility Jose Trevino will not play again the rest of the season. Trevino has been sidelined since Sept. 9 with a sprained left wrist, and he has not progressed as quickly as the Rangers had hoped.

“There is still a chance he could play at some point this year,” manager Chris Woodward said. “It’s still in question. If it’s only the last couple of games, it may not be worth it. I’m hoping. It doesn’t feel as good as he would like it to, but there is a chance it will be able to improve.”

Mathis, 37, is now sharing the duties with rookie Sam Huff, and the veteran was behind the plate on Thursday for the second straight game against the Astros. The Rangers want to look at young players, but they still have a healthy respect for Mathis’ leadership, and that could extend into next year.

Woodward said Trevino deserves a head start on being the Rangers' No. 1 catcher for next season, but there is some appeal in having a veteran backing him up and Huff continuing his development in the Minor Leagues.

“I don't know if Huff is going to be ready next year, so I'm guessing we will have a veteran-type catcher to fill that role -- almost like Mathis is doing right now,” Woodward said. “I do value having an older guy with Trevino, probably to start the season. If Huff comes and seems ready to roll, maybe we can make an adjustment, but I don't see Sam quite being ready for that yet.”

Mathis made it clear he still wants to play next season. He said his body feels good, and he is still excited to put on the uniform. If the Rangers feel he could continue as a mentor for Trevino and Huff, Mathis would be willing to discuss it with them.

“Yeah, for sure, I understand where I am at in my career,” Mathis said. “I know the mentor part would be a part of it anywhere I feel like I would be going. It’s something I take a lot of pride in. I like it here. There are a lot of good people in this organization, and I have been excited to be around them and this clubhouse and this group over the last year and a half. If I am back next year, that would be awesome.”

Mathis is in his 16th season, and Thursday was his 907th game behind the plate, seventh-most among active catchers. He has a career .195 batting average with a .553 OPS, convincing evidence that his defense and leadership are what keeps him in the game.

The Rangers have to weigh both the intangibles and the lack of offensive production in deciding if Mathis is still who they want as a backup catcher.

“It is a fine line [determining] what is more important,” Woodward said. “I think right now, where we are going, his value off the field is very important with so many young guys on our team. We are trying to fast forward as fast as possible, and his expertise is critical for us doing that.”

Rangers beat
• Kyle Gibson’s complete game on Wednesday was the Rangers' second of the season. Lance Lynn had the other. In Texas' 16 other wins, either Jonathan Hernández, Rafael Montero or both were used in relief.

• Gibson is only the fifth Rangers pitcher in the past 40 years to have a complete-game shutout and a 1-0 final score. The last to do it was Bobby Witt on Aug. 26, 1990.

• Bert Blyleven had four such games in 1976, and Ferguson Jenkins had four in '74.