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Notes: Odor expectations; Solak in center?

@Sullivan_Ranger
February 14, 2020

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Chris Woodward speaks highly of second baseman Rougned Odor. He also makes it clear the Rangers need more out of Odor in 2020. Odor hit 30 home runs and drove in 93 runs last season, but his batting average was only .205 with a .283

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Chris Woodward speaks highly of second baseman Rougned Odor. He also makes it clear the Rangers need more out of Odor in 2020.

Odor hit 30 home runs and drove in 93 runs last season, but his batting average was only .205 with a .283 on-base percentage and 178 strikeouts.

“He is an extremely talented player,” Woodward said. “If he can put it together on a night-to-night basis, where he is consistently productive, now we are talking about somebody who can literally change our team in so many ways.

“But he’s got to do that, he’s got to prove [it] to us, he’s got to prove it to me, the organization, the world, that he can do that on a consistent basis. I understand there are going to be some ups and downs. We’d just like to see him maintain consistency.”

The question is what happens if Odor does not meet those expectations. He is guaranteed $37 million over the next three seasons, but the Rangers also have Nick Solak as a viable option at second base.

“Are there consequences? Yeah,” Woodward said. “If he struggles mightily, of course there are consequences. Maybe [he] loses his starting job. I don’t know what they are right now. This is a performance-based industry. Guys have to perform.”

Woodward acknowledged that Odor gets “a little extra rope” because of his contract, but also because of the things he does for the Rangers beyond offensive production.

“When he is on the field, there is nobody who plays harder and with more intensity,” Woodward said. “He wears his heart on his sleeve when he plays. He has the ability to bring a team together both off the field and on the field.

“There are still things he does that I value that he did last year. As long as he maintains it, that allows the rope to be as long as possible. If there is disrespect or something that crosses the line, that rope gets really short. But that’s not Rougned. Rougie wants to win.”

Odor admitted this is a big year for him.

“Every year is critical for me,” Odor said. “Every season I’m ready to go. I know I can be better than last year. I don’t want to talk about the past. I’m good. I’m ready to go.”

Solak in center

Solak is in camp early -- the Rangers’ first full-squad workout isn’t until Monday -- and this week he has started taking fly balls in center field. Solak has played 365 games at second base in his professional career as opposed to just 20 in center.

This is not the first time he’s worked out in center during Spring Training. He did it with the Rays in 2018 after he joined them from the Yankees at the beginning of camp. Ex-center fielder Rocco Baldelli, now the manager of the Twins, was his instructor.

“Wherever they want me to play,” Solak said. “I have been running around the outfield more in center. Wherever my name is in the lineup, continue to get better at every position.”

He said it

“It’s great to be here and still be here with the Rangers after seven years. Not many players stay with the same club for seven years like that. I know people get talked about being traded in the offseason or during the season, but I’m very proud that I have been with the Rangers for seven years.” -- Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo

Rangers beat

• Woodward said he is pleased left-hander Joe Palumbo came into camp much stronger this spring. That was the challenge laid down to Palumbo this winter: increase strength and endurance so he can pitch deeper into games.

• Right-hander Luis Garcia, who has seven years of experience with the Phillies and Angels, impressed some coaches in the first round of bullpen sessions. When he is at his best, Garcia can average 97 mph on his fastball. He also averages 4.64 walks per nine innings in his career.

• Woodward said right-hander Kyle Cody will be brought along slowly this spring after he missed two years while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He may not appear in a spring game until mid-March or even later.

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.