Texas two-step: Seager, Semien ready to lead Rangers

March 15th, 2022

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rewind to 2013. A 19-year-old Corey Seager and 23-year-old Marcus Semien are teammates with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.

Semien was a September callup that previous MLB season and Seager was three years away from his National League Rookie of the Year run in 2016. Nine years later, Seager and Semien reunite once again in Arizona, this time as seasoned veterans ready to lead the Rangers into the next era up the middle of the infield.

Seager said the two embrace the idea of being able to build something together in Texas.

“He hasn't changed since then, with all the success he's had throughout his career, he's still the same person as he was back then,” Seager said. “You can really appreciate and value that, and it's gonna be fun to play with him.”

“We're gonna be attached at the hip for the entire camp and all year,” Semien added. “That's my middle-infield partner and we’re both to be leaders on this ballclub for years to come. So I’m just getting to know him a little bit more and I'm excited.”

The two middle infielders have been in a unique situation with a new team. They were officially signed and introduced at Globe Life Field mere hours before the MLB lockout began and they had not been able to contact members of the front office or coaching staff until this last week.

Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels joked the deals felt like fantasy baseball because it was just on paper and felt like it wasn’t real.

Now, Seager and Semien come into their first Rangers’ Spring Training with one goal: to win and to make Texas into a winning organization once again.

“It's just an expectation of winning that's got to be your mindset,” Seager said. “You expect to win every day. You're gonna go out there and you're gonna do what you can to win that night. It's not about looking forward to how many games you're gonna win. It's about being in the moment and focusing on that day and that series, and just trying to stay as present as possible. That's the mindset you have to create.”

It’s the same message manager Chris Woodward has emphasized since the start of Minor League camp in February and the next step as the club comes out of the rebuilding process.

And while the on-field aspects matter, Seager and Semien are both now in a place where they need to establish the leadership and culture in the organization. Because of the circumstances of the lockout, contacts with their new teammates wasn’t as frequent and established as it could have been in a normal offseason. That all starts now.

“Nothing happens overnight,” Semien said. “My thing has always been to just be the best version of yourself. A lot of the guys in this clubhouse are early in their careers. They're just young. It takes time, but I think that there's things that myself, Corey, Kole Calhoun and the veteran guys can say to young guys to accelerate that process, and I'm excited about that.”

While Semien has had experience being a veteran leader on a growing team in Toronto in 2021, Seager has the exact opposite experience. With the Dodgers, Seager was surrounded by veterans up and down the lineup. He wasn’t shouldering much of the burden of leadership.

While he still won’t be shouldering it alongside Semien, it’ll be a learning curve to step into this new role.

“I think he’s ready for it,” Woodward said. “I get to help him and say, ‘Hey, you're the guy. All eyes are on you.’ And he doesn't mind that. He just does things right. He doesn't care if the spotlight’s on him really, because he's like, ‘This is how I work.’ … Look I'm not going to have him lead a team speech or anything. That's not his style. His style is to just put his arm around guys, be a great human being to his teammates and help them. I think that's what he's gonna do.”

And now that the lockout is finally over and the business side of things are done, “it’s all about baseball,” Seager said.

After a 60-102 record last season, there’s a tall hill to climb, even with the Rangers’ offseason additions. But that climb begins in Spring Training. As players arrived in Surprise, Ariz., over the last few days, it’s clear that the expectations have been elevated from previous years and the players are buying in.

“Obviously we have a lot of momentum as an organization,” Woodward said. “We're all pretty excited, but now we’ve got to approve it. We've done nothing yet. We haven't won a game yet. So it's exciting, but at the same time, we want to use that momentum. We want to create that belief in that clubhouse. We want those guys to feed off the positive energy we have right now.”