Rangers thrilled to have Ibáñez in bigs

May 6th, 2021

Rangers manager Chris Woodward said it was priceless to see the joy on Adolis García’s face when he told he had been called up to the big league club. García came running out of the batting cages, basically tackling Ibáñez in a big hug by the dugout.

García and Ibáñez grew up together in Cuba and have been close friends since joining the Rangers' organization. García said he thinks he had more of a reaction to Ibáñez getting called up than he did with his own back in April.

“I definitely just got super excited for him and for his experience,” García said through an interpreter after Tuesday’s game. “I just wanted him to feel really good. I’m really proud of him. I just want him to enjoy the experience.”

“It helps him to see Adolis, I think,” Woodward added. “His face when I got to tell him he was on the team, it was one of the coolest moments I've seen in this game. I think it really helps him, and he's obviously welcomed on this team. Everybody loves him.”

With infielder Brock Holt’s move to the 10-day injured list on Tuesday, Ibáñez was activated from the taxi squad before the start of the game. Ibáñez has spent most of the season either at the alternate training site or with the taxi squad.

Woodward said that while García and Ibáñez are really good friends, their styles of play have a few differences. They both have an innate passion and fight when they play the game, but Ibáñez is a bit more subdued than García.

“[Ibáñez is] a little more to himself,” Woodward said. “This is something that stood out to me and to our staff the last couple of years, is when this guy faces good pitching, it doesn't bother him. He gets locked in. You're not going to see, if Andy hits a homer today, you're [not] gonna see him flip the bat. He may do a little bat flip, but he's not gonna run around like Adolis has with the raw emotion. He definitely gets excited, but it's just a little different.”

The 28-year-old is a versatile infielder who rakes at the plate. He didn’t get his first taste of big league action until the top of the 9th inning of Tuesday’s game against Minnesota, with the Rangers down 3-2.

With lefty pitcher Taylor Rogers on the mound for the Twins, Ibáñez pinch-hit for left-handed hitter David Dahl and bounced a single through the left side of the infield to move the tying run into scoring position. The run scored on a sacrifice fly just two batters later, forcing extra innings. Ibáñez said he plans to give the game ball to his dad to keep at home.

“This kid, I mean, one thing about him is I've never seen this kid get rattled in the batter's box,” Woodward said. “Not one time. He didn't seem bothered at all. That's where he's probably been the most comfortable in his life, is standing in the batter's box. So, I felt really comfortable that he was going to handle himself no problem. It was probably something he’s been waiting for his whole life.“

Ibáñez notched his first big league start as the designated hitter in Texas' 3-1 win over Minnesota on Wednesday, and went 1-for-3 with an RBI.

Woodward has mentioned before that if Ibáñez got to the Majors, it’d be hard to send him down. If he hits anywhere near his .300/.375/.497 slash line from Triple-A in 2019, he’ll no doubt be a valuable asset for the big league club.

“I’ve got a plan, just like Adolis,” Ibáñez said. “I’m gonna do whatever it takes, and we appreciate the opportunity the Rangers have given me. I’m preparing and I think I’m ready to go, no matter what. It's mentally tough. It's been tough getting here -- this is all I really wanted to do. I just want to play baseball.”