Mathis, Kiner-Falefa to continue sharing duties

April 17th, 2019

ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher is 2-1 with a 2.60 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP after four starts, all with behind the plate. Mathis is just 3-for-27 at the plate, but his work with Minor reinforces why the Rangers signed him as a free agent in the offseason.

“It says a lot about him,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “Clearly the things he does on the defensive side of the ball, in the clubhouse, his leadership are off the charts. He is one of the best guys I have ever been around.”

Mathis, a 15-year veteran with a .197 career batting average, is sharing the duties with Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who is in his second Major League season. Kiner-Falefa has the ability give the Rangers higher offensive production from behind the plate.

So the ongoing debate for Woodward will be which will have more value to the Rangers as the season progresses.

“I look at it as an even split,” Woodward said. “One has more potential upside on the offensive side and the other has far more experience from the catching standpoint. It kind of balances out in a way. I have no problem putting [Kiner-Falefa] in a big spot, he has to learn to deal with it.

“Same thing with Jeff. I want him in there in a big spot with a bat in his hand. I want him in those situations, so he gets confidence from us. There may be times where I pinch-hit for him, but not always. You have to trust your guys.”

Woodward also doesn’t want his pitchers to get too dependent on one catcher, especially since it would be natural to want the experienced veteran behind the plate. Woodward said pairing Mathis with Minor was a matter of riding the hot streak.

“I want to make sure they all have trust in the other guy if it is lined up that way,” Woodward said.

Odor begins running

Second baseman Rougned Odor, on the disabled list with a sprained right knee, began light jogging on Wednesday in addition to taking ground balls and batting practice.

“It’s feeling better every day,” Odor said. “I hate not being in the field. I’m the kind of player who loves to play, whether I’m hurt or not. But it’s not something I can do anything about.”

Odor was placed on the 10-day injured list Saturday after sustaining the injury while stretching in the clubhouse before Friday’s game against the Athletics.

“I don’t even know what happened,” Odor said. “I was getting ready for the game and I felt something wrong in my knee. I asked the trainers, ‘Can you check my knee?’ and something was wrong.”

Rangers beat:

• Ronald Guzman, who is on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, is farther along than Odor. Woodward said Guzman is running at 75-80 percent and is scheduled to be examined on Monday. The Rangers should know after that how close Guzman is ready for a rehabilitation assignment.

• The Rangers have signed right-handed pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng to a Minor League contract and assigned him to extended spring training. He was released by the Cubs on April 13 after opening the season on the Triple-A injured list with a strained right shoulder. Tseng, a native of Taiwan, has made two starts and one relief appearance for the Cubs the past three seasons. He was 2-15 with a 6.27 ERA at Triple-A Iowa last season.

• Down East outfielder Bubba Thompson, who was the Rangers No. 1 Draft pick in 2017, has been placed on the injured list with a fractured hamate bone in his left wrist and will be sidelined for four weeks. He was hitting .150 for Down East.