Rangers exploring options with their outfield
DALLAS -- Let's touch all the bases from the Rangers' press conference on Wednesday, shall we? The event was designed to introduce catcher Robinson Chirinos and Todd Frazier, but a variety of topics were covered by general manager Jon Daniels and manager Chris Woodward during the session.
• Daniels was asked about the Rangers' outfield situation and suggested Danny Santana may be better suited as a utility player rather than the everyday center fielder.
“I love him in center field,” Daniels said. “But I also love him being an option for Woody all over the place, because he was so valuable in that role. [A] switch-hitter who can play just about every spot on the field is pretty valuable.”
The problem is that the Rangers don’t have much Major League experience at the center-field spot beyond Santana and Joey Gallo. The Rangers want to anchor Gallo in right field. The list of free-agent center fielders still available includes Kevin Pillar, Leonys Martin, Juan Lagares and Billy Hamilton.
• Frazier was asked about his right-handed bat being a need for the Rangers and if that will be an advantage in a left-handed-leaning lineup.
“I guess,” Frazier said. “We have a good squad, I was looking at the lineup. I am not worried about left or right-handed hitters, we are worried about winning. If they have to bring in a lefty and I am in between two lefties, I have to be ready to bounce, be ready to go. That’s the exciting part about playing this game. You never know when you are going to get that opportunity.
“It’s time to step up, and that’s what I am going to tell everybody when we talk in those meetings. 'Who wants to be the hero that day?' That’s basically the motto I have been going on. 'Who wants to be the hero?' It’s usually somebody different every time. That’s what makes up a good team. It’s about winning championships.”
• Chirinos said his year in Houston getting a chance to work with perennial All-Star pitcher Justin Verlander had a profound impact on him.
“Never had a guy, especially [Verlander] who is not comfortable being just good,” Chirinos said. “He wants to be great, really challenged me to be even better prepared for him and for the team. That is some of the things I learned last year and it’s going to help me going forward.”
Verlander won his second American League Cy Young Award last season with Chirinos behind the plate. The catcher will get to work with another two-time Cy Young Award winner this season with Corey Kluber on the Rangers.
“Last year was fun behind the plate,” Chirinos said. “Those guys are special. They are talented, but they want to be the best. That’s in the past. I am focused on the guys we have now and the relationships I have to build to be good for them. They have to trust me behind the plate, and they need to see me put in the work in.”
• The Astros and Red Sox situation was broached with Daniels and Woodward. Both organizations were severely disciplined by Commissioner Rob Manfred for violations involving the use of electronic video equipment to steal opponent’s signs.
There have been suggestions the problem goes beyond those two teams, and Daniels was asked if he was confident his team has been compliant over the past few years.
“I am, yeah,” Daniels said. “The last couple of years, definitely the past year, I know we had to sign off on that in our positions. It has been part of the program the Commissioner has put in place. We had to certify, to the best of our knowledge, anything we are aware of … that we played by the explicit rules that have been laid out. You are not in every spot at every time, in every room at every single point in time. I am confident we didn’t cross that line. Our players and staff honored that, we told the league.”
• Woodward was with the Dodgers in 2017 when they lost to the Astros in the World Series and again in '18 when they lost to the Red Sox. He would seem to have every right to be upset over the transgressions.
“I am not going to get personal,” Woodward said. “I just think from a coaching standpoint, staff standpoint, manager, one of the things I preach heavily is getting an advantage in any way. We know other teams are doing it, we don’t know if they are crossing the line. All we can do is make sure we don’t cross that line.
“It is a part of the game, but there was a line drawn by the Commissioner’s Office, you are not allowed to cross this line or there are going to be consequences. They thought [the Astros and Red Sox] crossed the line. They were clear about that. I don’t know if it is too severe or not enough. I don’t really have a personal response as far as having lost the World Series. We got beat. That’s the bottom line."