ARLINGTON -- Corey Kluber is healthy and his delivery mechanics appear to be in working order. He can scratch those off his to-do list as he gets ready for his first Major League start in nearly 15 months.
Next on Kluber's list would seem to be controlling his emotions when he leads the Rangers against the Rockies at 1:35 p.m. CT on Sunday at Globe Life Field. But Kluber’s innate ability to stay under control was one of his biggest assets while winning two American League Cy Young Awards and pitching in the postseason for the Indians.
“Normally, the first game of the season, postseason, World Series, whatever, I have been pretty successful at controlling my emotions and focusing on the task at hand,” Kluber said. “I don’t think it will be any different from the first time out in any season. Having Spring Training and Summer Camp, to me it feels like the buildup to a normal season.”
Kluber’s last regular-season start was on May 1, 2019, pitching for the Indians against the Marlins. He sustained a fractured right forearm after getting hit by a line drive and missed the rest of the season. The right-hander went 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA in seven starts after he had won 20 games the year before.
“I don’t really try to compare now to last year or a few years ago,” Kluber said. “The way I look at it is, I believe I have a certain way to go about things to be successful. Each day, try to improve and make gains on that. I feel I am in a good spot right now.”
Calhoun limited to DH
Willie Calhoun started at designated hitter on Saturday while still dealing with a strained right hip flexor. Manager Chris Woodward said Calhoun can hit and run the bases, but he is not yet ready to play left field. That could be another week.
“When I’m comfortable and see him run better, and I watch some drills in the outfield with [third-base coach] Tony Beasley,” Woodward said. “Then, I can evaluate him and see if it’s worth putting him out there. That’s where he got hurt, so that’s my concern, that moving and shifting. He didn’t do it swinging, which is a good thing. I’m hoping within a week.”
Shin-Soo Choo started in left on Saturday, after Nick Solak played there on Opening Day. But Woodward also used Leody Taveras in center in the ninth inning, moving Danny Santana to left. That’s a move the Rangers will continue to use as an option as long as they can keep Taveras on the active roster.
• Jeff Mathis started at catcher on Saturday with Mike Minor on the mound. Mathis caught 27 of Minor’s 32 starts last season. Robinson Chirinos is the Rangers' No. 1 catcher, and Woodward said Mathis and Jose Trevino will alternate as the No. 2 catcher.
• Joey Gallo started in right field on Opening Day after being in left field in the 2019 opener, first base in '18 and third base in '17. The last Rangers player to start four consecutive Opening Days at four different positions was Al Oliver, who was used at all three outfield positions and designated hitter from 1978-81.
• Friday marked only the fourth time in modern Major League history (since 1900) that there was a 1-0 score in a ballpark's inaugural game. The others were Ebbets Field in 1913, Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium in '32 and Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium in '97. In that last one, the Cardinals beat the Padres in the opener of a three-game series in Hawaii.