Healthy White showcases reworked swing for new-look Rangers

Seager, Semien make debut; Leiter strikes out four

March 19th, 2022

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Eli White is a Ferrari. 

That’s how manager Chris Woodward and new offensive coordinator Donnie Ecker refer to the Rangers' 27-year-old outfielder. 

“A Ferrari is really special, not only because it can go fast, but it can stop on a dime,” Ecker explained. “So we have a lot of techniques and shaping up to focus on with him, but the engine is true. His engine is a Ferrari.”

In the Rangers’ first day of Cactus League play on Friday, White went 0-for-3 at the plate with a walk as the designated hitter in what ended as a 5-5 tie against the Royals. It was the first time he participated in game action since an ​​internal brace surgery in August. White debuted a new swing that he’s been working on with Ecker and new hitting coach Tim Hyers. 

Before the lockout, White and the hitting coaches had a Zoom to lay out a plan for the offseason as he finished his rehab process. 

White was once a Top 30 prospect in the Rangers’ farm system, but has struggled with big league pitching since making his debut in 2020, owning a career .179/.254/.293 slash line. 

The adjustments with the hitting coaches mainly come with his bat path. Making it more “east-west rotational upper body,” Hyers explained.

“I’m trying to stay through the ball more and not so much rotational like around the ball,” White said. “My miss hits are typically on the ground to the pull side. So I’m trying to make my miss hits more in the air to center field, so everything directionally goes in that way. It's more of just how my bat comes through the zone.”

Seager, Semien make Rangers debut
Texas’ new middle infielders made their club debuts in the Cactus League opener, both playing three innings. Marcus Semien didn’t record a hit in his two at-bats, but Corey Seager went 2-for-2 with a single and a three-run homer.

The double play duo emphasized just how much fun it was to play baseball and get to know each other on the field.

“It's exciting,” said Seager of finally getting to play a game with Semien. “We got to get out there and play and just kind of figure out everybody. You got to learn what people can do, what they can't do and and make up anything between, so it's nice to just kind of move around, get to know how [Semien] moves and how everybody moves and just play again. It's fun to just play again.”

Woodward emphasized that Seager was the perfect guy for the Rangers to bring in to be the face of the offense. 

“He’s a special hitter,” Wodoward remarked. “He’s on the go every pitch. He's really talented. But it's more of the mentality that we want to come to the plate every day. It’s not ‘I'm going to take a pitch here.’ He is never like that. He's on the go 100% of the time."

Leiter in the zone in Cactus League debut
The Rangers’ top prospect and the No. 2 overall selection in the 2021 MLB Draft, Jack Leiter, pitched in his first true professional game just seven days ago in Minor League camp against the Royals.

On Friday, Leiter made his Cactus League debut, this time against the Royals in Major League camp. He cruised through the first 1 2/3 innings of his outing, striking out the four batters he faced and retiring the first five with ease.

Then he gave up a single up the middle and Nick Pratto took him deep for a two-run homer. After back-to-back walks to the next two batters, Leiter's day was finished.

Woodward said the biggest thing for Leiter in his debut season will be getting comfortable in professional baseball, where every hitter is just as good as the last.

“Landing offspeed pitches in fastball counts, it was just a little bit off today,” Leiter explained. “The changeup is something that I'm always working on and that's the pitch that got hit out. … I would say I threw two good changeups today out of the seven or eight that I tried to throw. That's the nature of a pitch you're working on. It's not going to be there every day.”