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Odor's new 2-strike plan: 'One pitch, one zone'

Rangers want free-swinging 2B to avoid chasing pitches
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rougned Odor?

One pitch, one zone. Dig in with two strikes.

View Full Game Coverage

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rougned Odor?

One pitch, one zone. Dig in with two strikes.

View Full Game Coverage

Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

That's it. Nothing more complicated than that.

That's all the Rangers want Odor to do this spring.

"It is a one-pitch, one-zone mentality right now," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "I think he'll continue to build on that. I don't think it's a change as much as a transition to 'one pitch, one zone.' Stay out of chasing. If he does that, I consider that progressing back to where he was in 2016."

The Rangers had to be encouraged Sunday when Odor walked twice in his two plate appearances against the Rockies. Scouts tracking behind home plate said the pitchers were close enough for a hitter to swing.

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"Right now, I am just looking to swing at my pitch," Odor said. "They didn't throw anything I like to swing at so that's why I took two walks, because I am working on that. Just go there and hit my pitch."

The Rangers are going to take the same approach with Odor as they are with their pitchers. They are not harping on the pitching staff about too many walks and they are not going to do so with Odor about too many strikeouts.

Instead they have given him a plan. Go to the plate and look for a certain pitch in the right zone. If you get it, swing away. If it's not there, take it.

With two strikes, just make sure you put the ball in play rather than swinging wildly, which seemed to be Odor's two-strike plan last year. Odor struck out 51.1 percent of the time he had two strikes on him last year. By comparison, Adrian Beltre did so 27.4 percent of the time.

"Everybody has a [two-strike] approach," Banister said. "Do you consider [Odor's] an optimum two-strike approach? I don't know if you can consider it that. We got him back to the right mindset. He's a force when he's on the bases. This is a guy who loves to swing the bat. We love it when he is swinging at pitches he can drive."

That's the story with Odor. There is no other storyline for him in Spring Training.

He is the Rangers' second baseman and nobody is going to take his spot in the Opening Day lineup. Odor signed a six-year, $49.5 million contract last spring and the Rangers are committed to him through 2022.

Texas has Jurickson Profar and Hanser Alberto in camp as utility infielder candidates. Darwin Barney, a Gold Glove Award winner at second base in 2012, is in camp as a non-roster player to provide depth.

Odor may be a lock, but the production still has to be better. He batted .204 last year, the second lowest in Rangers history by a qualifying hitter, and his .252 on-base percentage was the lowest. He hit 30 home runs, but his .397 slugging percentage was the lowest ever in Major League history for a player with that many homers. The 162 home runs vs. 32 walks speaks for itself.

"The easy non-coaching answer is don't strike out," Banister said. "It's not the case. Paint a different mindset for a kid that is still into growing what type of Major Leaguer he is going to be."

The plan is simple. Now Odor has to go out and do it.

"Just hit my pitch," Odor said. "Last year I swung at a lot of pitches out of the zone. This year I am working at hitting my pitch."

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.

Texas Rangers, Rougned Odor