Rangers at Fenway: 'That’s what we play for'

August 20th, 2021

BOSTON -- When someone describes Fenway Park, you’ll often hear words such as “historic,” “charming” or “magical.”

But ask Rangers manager Chris Woodward, and you’ll get other less-endearing descriptors -- in the best way possible.

“This clubhouse, everything about this place is about baseball,” Woodward said ahead of Friday’s series opener at Fenway. “Nothing about it that’s ‘too nice,’ the walls are old. You know I’m in this old office, I don’t know whose office this is, but it’s old and kind of smelly, but it just makes you feel like a ballplayer. You know, you want to get dirty, you want to go head first into home.

“Sometimes these other ballparks are almost too nice and you get on the field and don’t want to disturb any of it, but here it’s like, ‘Let’s get down and dirty, play together, play hard.' And it’s fun. That’s what we play for.”

Prior to Friday’s series opener at the historic ballpark, Texas last took the field in Boston in 2019, when it went 2-2 from June 10-13. Since July ‘16, the Rangers have lost nine of 11 games played at Fenway, after going 17-12 in their previous 29 games at the park.

This August series marks the second of the season between the Rangers and Red Sox, with Texas taking three of four from April 29-May 2 at Globe Life Field. In the all-time series between the two clubs, Boston holds a 144-93 advantage over Texas at Fenway Park.

“When you’re playing in the same ballpark that Ted Williams and some of the best players in the game, you know, in the same batter’s box and the same mound as you … it’s exciting,” Woodward said. “And like I said, the fans make it exciting. This is what we play for, this is what we dream about as kids.”

Someone who’s no stranger to the charm of Fenway Park? Brock Holt, who got the start at third base for Texas, batting leadoff in the series opener. Holt spent seven of the first eight years of his career as a utility player with the Red Sox, earning a World Series ring when the club won it all in 2018. His start marked just the second time the 33-year-old has played as a visitor at the Boston ballpark. Holt made his first appearance at Fenway as an opposing player on Aug. 29, 2020, as a pinch-hitter for the Nationals.

“All our guys are really excited to play here,” Woodward said. “Some of these guys have never been here. It’s obviously one of the [most] historic ballparks. … It’s always lively, they always sell out.”