Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News arrow-downArrow Down icon Arrow Up icon

Woodward: Odor 'in a good place right now'

February 27, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The statistical sample size this spring is far from significant, but Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor sees his early Cactus League success less as a new beginning, and more of a continuation of the improvement he showed late last season. The Rangers second baseman went 3-for-3 with

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The statistical sample size this spring is far from significant, but Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor sees his early Cactus League success less as a new beginning, and more of a continuation of the improvement he showed late last season.

The Rangers second baseman went 3-for-3 with a grand slam and a double Thursday in his third Cactus League game; he is hitting .556 (5-for-9) with six RBIs this spring. As in September and October of last year, when he posted a .984 OPS with nine homers in 24 games, Odor believes his plate adjustments are achieving positive results.

“I’ve been working on what I was doing last year at the end of the year, and I worked all offseason on that,” Odor said. “I put a lot of work in my body, not just my legs -- trying to stay inside the ball, trying to see the ball deeper.”

Odor put his team ahead in his first at-bat Thursday, in the Rangers’ 13-1 win over the Cubs, lifting a 3-1 pitch just over the wall in right-center of Surprise Stadium to clear the bases in the first inning. Next time up, in the third inning, he laced a double to right. He singled in the fifth before being removed for a pinch-runner.

Manager Chris Woodward said Odor has improved “his ability to put the ball forward on pitches that he should, and he’s taking the pitch up [high]. He’s working really hard at things. The second at-bat, there was a little cutter in that maybe he probably would’ve yanked foul last year because he was trying to get the [bat] head out. He was able to stay through it and keep it fair and hit a double.

“He’s in a good place right now,” Woodward said. “Obviously, he’s got to continue to be consistent with it every day. I trust his work -- now he’s kind of buying into the everyday process. He’s speaking in a different way, if that makes sense. He’s just got a higher level of thinking about the game in every way, which is really, really productive for us. Because if he becomes the guy we all want him to be, he can turn our team around.”

But before he can turn the Rangers around, Odor has to show that he himself is headed in the right direction. Even with the late surge last season, Odor hit .205 with a .283 on-base percentage. He led the Rangers with 30 homers and 93 RBIs, but struck out 178 times and often showed little discipline at the plate, especially early on in the season. He hit just .161 in his first 41 games, walking only 13 times in 170 plate appearances.

Those are forgettable numbers for a player who is guaranteed $37 million over the next three years.

“It’s already in the past,” said Odor, who remains confident that the work he put into his swing and approach over the past six months will pay dividends.

“When we’re not hitting good, it’s hard to trust that. But right now, I’m just trying to be the same guy that I was in the second half. I don’t feel ready like 100 percent yet, but I feel really good at the plate.”