Notes: Guzmán refines swing; reaction to Astros

February 13th, 2020

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- was 16 when he first signed with the Rangers on July 9, 2011, out of the Dominican Republic.

Now he wants to go back to hitting the way he did in 2010 before he turned professional.

“I’m going to be Ronald Guzmán and swing my way,” Guzmán said. “Keep it simple. Be myself. Not overthink things. Focusing on being myself.”

Minnesota designated hitter Nelson Cruz endorsed that idea. Guzmán worked out with the former Rangers outfielder in the Dominican Republic this winter. Guzmán had a visa issue that kept him from working out in Texas, so he hooked up with Cruz.

The two got to know each other under difficult circumstances in 2013 while in Surprise. Cruz was working out there while serving a 50-game drug suspension and was on the Minor League injured list.

“He is a great dude,” Guzmán said. “I learned a lot from him. How he goes about his business and prepares for a game and studies opposing pitchers. I worked with him and pulled a lot of stuff together.”

Guzmán keeping it simple and returning to what he did 10 years ago appears to be contrary to all the information the Rangers poured into their hitters last year. The suggestion is the Rangers may have overwhelmed their players with too much information.

Manager Chris Woodward does not believe that to be the case.

“Sometimes the younger players get a little confused,” Woodward said. “We are taking information that can fill this room 10 times over and getting it down to something that will help them individually. That wasn’t our intent to overwhelm anybody. But they have to gain some understanding to keep it simple.

“Last year [Guzmán] pushed himself to learn everything we talked about and now he is taking bits and pieces of it. He has an understanding of what he needs. That was our whole intent last year. To try to give these guys an understanding of all this information and have them take what they need.”

Now Guzmán needs to win a job. He hit .219/.308/.414 last season and will have competition for the Rangers first-base job. Greg Bird is in camp on a non-roster invite. There is also a possibility Todd Frazier could switch to first base if Nick Solak can prove capable of playing third.

“With the year I had last year, I know what I have to do,” Guzman said. “What their decision is, they’ll make it. I just know I am going to come in prepared and ready to go. It doesn’t matter what they do. I am going to be ready.”

Woodward reacts to Astros
The big story in baseball is the apologies coming out of Astros camp on their illegal sign-stealing methods on their run to the 2017 World Series title. Rangers manager Chris Woodward was the Dodgers third-base coach during that World Series and heard about the Astros’ contrition.

“I don’t really have a comment on it,” Woodward said. “We lost the World Series in ’17. It hurts to hear some of the things that came out. It’s a competitive environment, they tried everything they could. They all have their personal things they go through. They clearly got punished by the Commissioner and baseball. It does hurt. I wish I would have won that World Series than lost it.”

Woodward did note that Astros owner Jim Crane insisted the illegal sign-stealing had no impact on winning the World Series.

“He is just trying to back his players and the organization,” Woodward said. “They had a talented team. We knew that. They were really good. Can I comment and say whether we would have won it or not? Who knows? It definitely helped them. I don’t know if it caused us to lose or not.”

He said it
“I’m going back to what I was as a player. I am infielder first. That’s when I was at my best. My window is closing. I’m trying to open it back up a little bit.” -- Rangers infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who is no longer trying to become a catcher

Rangers beat
• Look out…Rangers reliever Jesse Chavez is riding around the clubhouse on a one-wheel motorized skateboard. Said Chavez, who loves his toys, “Have you seen how long our hallways are [in the new ballpark]?”

• Left-handed pitcher Brock Burke, who is sidelined with left shoulder inflammation, is up to 90 feet in his throwing program.

• Get ready for brisket egg rolls at Globe Life Field. That was the winning entry in the Globe Life Field recipe contest. Jennie Loy’s creation will be served at four food stands at the new park.