When Cot’s or Baseball Reference lays out the contract details for Rougned Odor’s new deal with Texas, which is designed to keep him here through 2022 with a club option for 2023 — mirroring Elvis Andrus’s contract — it probably won’t include the anecdote that Ray Davis closed the deal with the conveyance of two quarter-horses for Odor to house on the ranch he plans to buy in North Texas.
Odor is buying the ranch so he can move his parents and sister here from Venezuela.
It’s an indelible note that will outlive Lenny Randle’s sucker punch, Eddie Stanky’s managerial tenure, and Roger Moret’s catatonic trance in the Rangers narrative, and seems to have been a more meaningful gesture — and I’m not sure gesture is an adequate word here — to Odor than most of us can imagine. Odor already owned four cutting horses (at last count) back home, kept on a ranch a couple hundred Venezuelan miles from his hometown, but, well, anyway, when a man whose group is committing $50–60 million to a player seals things by connecting on a level far more personal than private plane flights or luxury suites, that’s just pretty cool.
Especially when you layer onto the story that this was a kid who signed for $425,000 — huge money for a Latin American family but relatively modest on a baseball scale (context: six months later Texas signed Nomar Mazara for more than 10 times that amount) — and developed from a kid who was too short, lacked plus speed, and didn’t project to play shortstop into a core big leaguer who will lead good teams for a long time.
If this morning’s story was about Odor alone, I’d have titled it “Horsepower.”
But I’m not that corny.
Or I’m even more corny than that.
A strain in Adrian Beltre’s right calf muscle will park him on the disabled list to start the season, and with the new 10-day minimum and the benefit of the retroactivity rules, he’ll be eligible to return to action on April 9, when Texas closes its opening homestand with a Sunday game against the A’s before a day off and a trip to Anaheim, Seattle, and Oakland.
Beltre may not be ready to return on the 9th, of course, and the Rangers aren’t going to take chances here. Notably, it was Beltre’s left calf that sidelined him early in camp, not his right, and this is a player who will turn 38 this week and, during his Rangers tenure alone, in just the lower half has dealt with hamstring, quad, and now dual calf injuries. Texas isn’t going to push this, not in April.
Joey Gallo will presumably get the bulk of the third base work in Beltre’s absence.
In part (but not fully) due to a crowded disabled list, Texas will have an astounding nine of 25 Opening Day roster members making their first Opening Day roster, if I’m not mistaken: pitchers Dario Alvarez, Matt Bush, Alex Claudio, Mike Hauschild, and Jose Leclerc; infielders Gallo, Jurickson Profar, and Drew Robinson; and outfielder Mazara.
That’s really cool, but the really fun stories in that regard belong to Robinson, an eighth-year pro who has grinded his way to this, and Hauschild, a sixth-year pro who was grabbed via Rule 5 when Houston didn’t think he was worth rostering with three options in November, each of whom will be big leaguers for the first time tomorrow.
I think “in like a lion and out like a lamb” usually refers to March weather, and means the month often starts with nasty, inclement weather before ending more pleasantly. The Rangers started camp with a 2–10–1 win-loss record, one loss before which I wrote “Opening Day is in 26 days. That’s a long time. What we should want is for the players, and the team, to hit stride those last few days in Surprise. Not now.”
Since then, Texas has gone 15–6–2, including 5–0–1 over the last week, which finished with a 27-inning stretch in which Rangers pitchers (a far more representative crew than the one that got work in during the early March skid) allowed a total of three runs.
And then there’s Beas.
This won’t be Tony Beasley’s first Opening Day in the big leagues, nor his first with Texas. But it will be his first in a row as an active member of the coaching staff, and that’s awesome. He kicked cancer in the tail, and he will sing the National Anthem to usher in the 2017 baseball season tomorrow night at Globe Life Park, before a sellout crowd and a national TV audience.
He’s good at singing.
He’s really good at coaching.
And he’s undefeated against cancer.
That’s gonna be one of the best Anthems ever.
It’s baseball time, you guys, and since I suspect you’re all on the edge of your seats wondering if I can shoehorn one more animal into this entry, let me do what I can to get that done for you, with one to describe, visually, how I’m feeling now that the season is one sleep away from bringing us Odor and Gallo, Robinson and Hauschild, Tony Beasley on the field, and Yu Darvish on the mound.
It’s baseball time.