Pence makes case for more playing time

Guzman's return to impact 'pen; Smyly to throw sim game Wednesday

April 30th, 2019

ARLINGTON -- is still the Rangers’ No. 1 center fielder, but is making a strong bid to get more playing time than the average “fourth outfielder.”

Pence was in the lineup on Tuesday night against the Pirates as the Rangers’ designated hitter. The Rangers also had Shin-Soo Choo in left and Joey Gallo in center with DeShields out of the lineup for the second time in three games.

Pence went into Tuesday’s game 10-for-28 (.357) with two home runs and 10 RBIs in his last seven starts.

“He has earned it,” manager Chris Woodward said. “I don’t think he’s going to play every day. It’s more of while he is hot, you get him in there as much as you can. He’s doing well. He has been a pro the whole time, didn’t play a lot at the beginning of the year. It has been nice to get him some playing time. He has been really productive.”

Woodward said the plan is for DeShields to be back in the lineup on Wednesday.

“I don’t want to get in the way of any development on Delino’s part,” Woodward said. “I’m trying to factor that in. Obviously Delino will play more. But Hunter’s providing a lot of value and winning us some games. Keep it going as long as I can.”

The Rangers signed Pence to a Minor League contract this winter after he hit .226 with a .258 on-base percentage and a .332 slugging percentage for the Giants last season. After 16 games, he was hitting .321 with a .351 on-base percentage and a .547 slugging percentage for the Rangers.

“Ultimately, it is a collective ego,” Pence said. “Whoever is starting, we are all supporting 100 percent. That’s going to be a testament to our strength if we can hold to that, so I’m here to help any way I can. I love being a part of all this, every single one of us, whoever is out there, we are ready to go.”

Guzman’s return may impact bullpen

First baseman Ronald Guzman could come off the injured list next Tuesday and the Rangers could avoid a tough decision with their bullpen by going with seven relievers instead of eight.

The tough call would be which position player gets dropped when Guzman comes back: Logan Forsythe or Danny Santana. The Rangers could keep both if they go with just seven relievers.

“That’s definitely a possibility,” Woodward said. “It is weighing on my mind a little bit. I don’t want to lose either one of them. I don’t really feel the need to get rid of one of them. They are too valuable with the way they are playing.”

The alternative would be placing either Santana or Forsythe on outright waivers and risk losing one of them.

Rangers beat

• Pitcher Drew Smyly, who is on the injured list with arm fatigue, is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Wednesday. If that goes well, he could be activated on Sunday to pitch against the Blue Jays.

• The Rangers, with their 15-1 and 14-1 blowout wins over the Mariners on Saturday and Sunday, are the second American League team in history to win back-to-back road games by at least 13 runs. The other team was the 1936 Yankees with wins of 15-1 and 25-2 over the Philadelphia Athletics on May 23-24.

• Class A Advanced Down East infielder Yonny Hernandez was named the Carolina League Player of the Week after going 9-for-19 with seven walks over April 22-28.