Semien targets another 162: 'He loves to play'

February 20th, 2024

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The week after the Rangers’ World Series parade, did two things.

The first was to coach his son Isaiah’s 7-under baseball team. The second was to get right back to work.

“That was a crazy experience because of all the excitement, all the Ranger fans and stuff,” Semien said of coaching. “I took a week or two just to settle down, hydrate, eat right and then get into working out.

“But, yeah, I went right into working out. I always think about our opponents and what they're doing. The teams that didn't go as far as us had an extra month to prepare. Why should I sit and take a three-week break because we went this far? No, we need to do what we just did last offseason. That's my mindset.”

Semien works diligently throughout the year to be able to be in the best shape possible come Opening Day. The work he does with the Rangers’ training group has paid off.

Semien is an iron man, having logged 835 plate appearances for the Rangers between the regular season and postseason in 2023. The second baseman played all 162 regular-season games and all 17 in the postseason en route to the first World Series championship in franchise history.

In his 11-year big league career, Semien has played a full 162 games three times and played at least 155 games an additional four times. They say the best ability is availability, and Semien has made it a staple throughout his career.

Even so, there were external questions about whether Semien should take an off-day or two throughout the season and into the postseason. Despite finishing third in AL MVP voting after posting a slash line of .276/.348/.478, he struggled to a .224 batting average in the postseason.

Throughout the 2023 season, manager Bruce Bochy was never worried about Semien’s workload, even into the postseason.

“If he's beat up or banged up and needs a day, it's beneficial,” Bochy said of potential off-days for Semien. “But if he feels great and is good to go, I get it. You're not going to feel great all the time. He loves to play. You take that away now, is that beneficial? You're weighing what the man loves to do.

“We're all in this game to play. Some guys just don't want to sit. I've had a lot of those players. That's been a battle with quite a few players I've had over my career. You take them out, and they’re not happy.”

That said, Bochy said the idea of sitting Semien for a game did come up once or twice last season, but conversations never got too far. Semien was good to play, so he played.

It hasn’t been mentioned in camp yet this year, but Bochy said he expects Semien to be on the same Spring Training schedule he had last year once the Cactus League games begin. It won’t be too heavy of a workload for the veteran infielder as he gets reacclimated to live pitching.

“I haven't spoken to Boch yet about the schedule or what he wants to do, but I leave it up to the staff to put us in the best position to be ready for the day,” Semien said. “I definitely come into spring not feeling like I need to be a finished product right now. As you get into April, we want to be ready for the fastball and have the timing right and mechanics you need to be kind of solid.”

With shortstop Corey Seager sidelined for most of spring after surgery to repair a sports hernia and third baseman Josh Jung down with a calf strain for at least two weeks, Semien is preparing to again play a full 162. And there’s no reason he should not be able to do so again, while also helping the Rangers’ repeat efforts.

“I think the way our offense carried us in the first half, we're going to have to continue that,” Semien said. “I think the pitching and the bullpen, the way they came out at the end of the year, we expect them to be that in the beginning. Those two things together, I think you're going to see a lot more wins that we didn't take care of -- mostly in the middle of the season. We put up eight runs a lot last year. If you do that and have guys who just shut it down at the end, we’re going to play some good baseball.”