ARLINGTON -- Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara has a foolproof plan for dealing with gloom-and-doom text messages from friends and family when things aren't going well on the field."I don't return texts," Mazara said.That's why they call him the Big Chill."This game has a lot ups and downs," Mazara said. "I
ARLINGTON -- Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara has a foolproof plan for dealing with gloom-and-doom text messages from friends and family when things aren't going well on the field.
"I don't return texts," Mazara said.
That's why they call him the Big Chill.
"This game has a lot ups and downs," Mazara said. "I never put my head down when I struggle, because I know I am going to come out of it and do fine. Everybody was freaking out, but I said I would be fine."
That's the Joey Gallo way. Shut out all the noise and just play baseball.
Rougned Odor, who has had his own struggles at the plate, is trying to keep the same approach.
"You have to be the same person, and go out and play the way you know how to play," Odor said. "Whether I am doing good or bad, I'm going to compete and do my best."
In case anybody has forgotten, Odor and Gallo are 23 and Mazara is 22. But their best mature efforts in dealing with the ups and downs of a baseball season may be put to the ultimate test this year on a team that has lost 12 of its past 16 games.
This is not going to be easy on anybody, and who knows what will happen if the Rangers don't get turned around quickly. A fire sale is always a possibility on a veteran team with so many key players eligible for free agency either this season or next. A jump-start on the future may be Texas' wisest course of action.
But the Rangers' future clearly starts with Odor, Mazara and Gallo. Much is going to depend on how they handle the adversity, and how all three come out of this season is as crucial to Texas as the team's final record -- maybe more so.
"Nobody feels good when the team is losing," Odor said. "You have to keep playing hard and stay positive. I'm always going to have fun. I don't care if I'm hitting or not -- I'm still going to try and help any way I can and put some energy into the team."
Odor has a hit in 13 of his past 15 games, but only one was a multihit effort. He is hitting .205 with eight home runs, 24 RBIs and a .355 slugging percentage on the season and his .249 on-base percentage is the third lowest in the league.
Gallo still has his moments, enough to keep the Rangers tantalized. He is hitting .200 with 84 strikeouts in 190 at-bats, but he is tied for second in the Majors with 17 home runs and tied for 14th in the American League with 36 RBIs. His .516 slugging percentage is 16th in the AL.
Mazara is the one on the roll. He had a 26-game stretch from April 18 to May 19 in which he hit .215 with a .302 on-base percentage and a .344 slugging percentage. That's when it was time to ignore the text messages.
Since then, Mazara is hitting .344 with a .394 on-base percentage and a .492 slugging percentage. He is the Big Chill again.
"I never panic," Mazara said. "I trust myself and just keep working hard."
That's the attitude Texas' young hitters need to maintain throughout what could be a difficult season. The club's future depends on it.
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.