Notes: Santana in CF; Lyles plays catch-up

July 11th, 2020

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers love ’s versatility. Santana loves the idea of playing one position, and that one position is center field.

Santana made it clear that he is willing to do what the Rangers ask, but he is counting on being anchored in center field this season.

“I am very pleased with this year because I know I don’t have to focus on a lot of different positions,” Santana said. “It makes it a lot easier that I only have to concentrate on my position in the outfield.

“I didn’t know what I was going to have to do, but I was willing to do what the team wanted me to do. But now to play center field and focus on center field, I am pretty happy with that.”

The Rangers used in center field early in Spring Training, but may not have enough time to renew that experiment in Summer Camp. Their other options include moving to center, using or taking a chance on untested rookies or .

“For any player, they will tell you they’ll be better playing one position,” manager Chris Woodward said. “He realizes when you are in one spot, you get better reads, you get more consistent out there. I’m not saying I’m not going to use him anywhere else, but as it stands right now, I want to make him the best center fielder possible.”

Santana started at least five games at every defensive position but pitcher and catcher last season. He started 22 games in center, which was his second-most at any position (42 at first base). Despite moving around, Santana finished the year hitting .283/.324/.534 with 28 home runs and 81 RBIs.

He had a slow start in Summer Camp, going hitless in his first 13 at-bats with 10 strikeouts. Then he hit his first home run on Friday and followed with a home run and triple off on Saturday.

“It's funny, because I actually said that to him,” Woodward said. “One home run, and it might change everything. Confidence is a beautiful thing. It also goes the other way at times. For him, he can get emotional at times. We're trying to get him to understand, just focus on what you can up there.

“Sometimes you're going to hit them, sometimes you're not. Just continue to have quality at-bats and swing at quality pitches. He's definitely a guy who can get a little bit streaky. We love the hot streaks. We're just trying to limit the cold streaks. That's, obviously, the goal for every hitter, but especially Danny.”

Lyles trying to catch up
Lyles appears to be behind the other four starting pitchers, and the Rangers may skip him through the first turn of the rotation. The Rangers have three off-days through the first 11 days of the season.

“We have a bunch of different options we're looking at,” Woodward said.

Lyles spent the 3 1/2-month shutdown at his home in Denver and didn’t have the same throwing opportunities as , , and did elsewhere.

Lyles went five innings Saturday in the intrasquad game and allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits and two walks. He struck out one and finished at 80 pitches. Lyles is showing that he is strong, but now he needs to hone the results.

“Watching him pitch today, towards the end, I liked what I saw,” Woodward said. “We need him to kind of push through some of this stuff. He's kind of in that adjustment period. I'm sure he's dealing with some soreness and some things that he's got to push through, whereas some of our other guys have already done that.”

Rangers beat
• Right-hander was late getting to camp for personal reasons, but the Rangers said he is here now. Woodward said Montero threw a bullpen session on Saturday and could pitch in a game situation sometime next week.

hit a home run off Lyles and has gone deep in three straight games. He is 8-for-17 with four home runs in eight intrasquad games.

• Left-hander went four innings and allowed an unearned run on three hits. He walked one and struck out five. In his previous outing, Allard walked five and struck out two.

• Right-hander pitched a scoreless inning and has three scoreless over three Summer Camp outings. He has not allowed a hit, has walked one and has struck out six.

• Right-hander had a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.

• Solak has nine hits in his last 19 at-bats after going 2-for-3 on Saturday.