Tocci to see more playing time in center field

July 25th, 2018

ARLINGTON -- An opportunity was created for Rangers outfielder when was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday.

Tocci will receive the bulk of playing time in center field, even though he's played in just 32 games and made 13 appearances in center this season. Tocci, however, is confident that he is prepared for the opportunity.

"I think the first three months of the season, I have learned a lot also being on the bench, watching the games and seeing what's going on around it," Tocci said. "So, I think that I can do my job, but it's an opportunity the manager [Jeff Banister] has given to me, and I have to take advantage."

It hasn't been an easy season for the 22-year-old Tocci, a Rule 5 pick from the Phillies. Overall, he entered Wednesday's game against the A's batting .143, and he missed 38 games with a bruised left hip earlier this season. Tocci has also had to adjust to less playing time, something he didn't experience in the Minors.

"Yeah, I think it was different because I'm not used to it, because in the Minors I used to play every day," Tocci said. "I played every game when I was in the Minor Leaguers, and here, it was hard for me also because of the injuries that I've had. As I said before, I have to take advantage if they're giving me the chance, make the most of it."

Tocci has taken advantage so far, as he's off to a strong start since the All-Star break. Entering Wednesday, Tocci was 3-for-7 with a triple, a run scored and an RBI on the current homestand. He had a career-high two hits in his start in center field on Tuesday.

Still, the Rangers want to see more offense from Tocci. Given that he is currently the everyday center fielder, Tocci said the extra playing time should help him find a groove and produce more.

"It was tough because I didn't play offense, I'd play once every two or three weeks," Tocci said. "It's not easy, but at the same time I was watching videos of the pitchers of the other team, doing adjustments and asking the coaches whatever I need to tinker. If I wasn't playing, I'd learn something on the bench, asking the coaches and make adjustments."

Tocci has also sought out hitting advice from veterans and , who are close to his locker.

"I have one on my side, Elvis," Tocci said. "I always talk to him about pitching. Even if I'm not playing, I ask him about pitching, and he tells me what he's doing and his approach. And also, Beltre. He's a Hall of Famer, so I always ask as much as I can, and he's always available.

"This is my dream to play here. I know [big league] pitching is different, but I have to play often, and I want to play often, so it's going to be a different challenge for me."