Woodward regrets not starting Choo in opener
ANAHEIM -- The Angels held their home opener on Thursday night and Shin-Soo Choo was in the lineup for the Rangers, batting leadoff and playing right field.
He wasn’t in the lineup for the Rangers' home opener on Opening Day last week and manager Chris Woodward Thursday admitted that was probably a mistake. Woodward wanted Hunter Pence in the game because of his right-handed bat against Cubs left-hander Jon Lester.
But it came at the expense of sitting a prominent veteran and team leader. Woodward seems to understand that more as he gains a better grasp of what Choo means to the Rangers.
“I felt bad,” Woodward said. “I might have screwed that one up. He probably deserved to play Opening Day. He has been great. I have really come to understand him on a deeper level. He is a special person. We are lucky we have that veteran, just the way he carries himself. The professionalism and the way he communicates with his teammates. I couldn’t ask for better.
“Later on in my managerial days, I might look back and say I should have played Choo on Opening Day. Just because how special he is. Obviously I can’t take that one back.”
Woodward has had multiple conversations with Choo since that day.
“Choo was not happy about not playing Opening Day, but our conversations since then … he is a very selfless guy,” Woodward said. “He feels like he is good, but he said, ‘I want to do everything I can for this team.’ And he means it. He understands the impact that Hunter Pence will have on this team.”
Mazara rests bruised quad
The Rangers got a scare on Wednesday night when Nomar Mazara went down hard on a first-inning collusion with Astros first baseman Yuri Gurriel while beating out an infield single. Mazara said he was scared, too, but was able to walk away with only a bruised left quad muscle.
“I hit it pretty hard,” Mazara said. “I didn’t know what it was. It took me a minute and then I realized it was the quad. I was trying to avoid contact because if I go straight, I hit him pretty hard.”
Mazara stayed in the game, but the muscle stiffened up on him with each passing inning. He told Woodward that he would take his at-bat in the eighth but would need a pinch-runner. Mazara hit a home run instead and was replaced defensively by Delino DeShields.
“That was pretty smart to hit the home run,” Mazara said.
Mazara was given a night off on Thursday but is expected to be back in the lineup on Friday.
Big walk for Gallo
Joey Gallo entered Thursday tied for the American League lead in walks with seven. He said the biggest one was against Lester in his first plate appearance on Opening Day.
“That was pretty cool,” Gallo said. “First at-bat of the year, there is a of jitters going on. The fact that I was able to lay off a 3-2 breaking ball from one of the best lefties in the game out of the zone, I got fired up about that. I felt that set the table for the rest of the series for me.”
True Rangers Award
Minor League pitcher Wes Benjamin and infielder Ryan Dorow received the True Ranger Award for Spring Training. It is a new award instituted by the organization this year.
“The True Rangers Award was voted on by all the players and staff in attendance during Spring Training,” farm director Matt Blood said. “The award goes to one pitcher and one [position player] who best exemplifies what it means to be a Ranger, both on and off the field.”
Blood said the club will announce monthly awards during the season and an overall winner at the end of the year.
• Utility infielder Logan Forsythe started at shortstop on Thursday so that Elvis Andrus could have a game at designated hitter. Forsythe is also expected to start at third base for Asdrúbal Cabrera on Saturday.
• Isiah Kiner-Falefa is expected to catch three of the four games in Anaheim. He started on Thursday night and is expected behind the plate Saturday and Sunday, Woodward said.
• The Rangers took two of three from both the Cubs and the Astros during their opening homestand. Both teams made the postseason the previous year. The last time the Rangers won consecutive series against teams that had been in the postseason the previous year was when they swept the Braves and the Athletics on Sept. 12-14 and Sept. 16-18, 2014.