Eli White’s offensive week helps Rangers make decision on Texas future
So much for the science of baseball, the pitch angle and all that jazz.
Just listen to Eli White explain how he made adjustments to the plate that made him this week’s Rangers candidate for rookie hitting sensation.
“If I felt like I was on time then I was late,” White said this week before hitting a pair of home runs in Houston on Wednesday. “When I’m struggling, I feel like I start on time. So, trying to start things earlier helps clean up some things mechanically. It helps me see the bullet longer and find the barrel more often.
It’s understood? The hour is late. Early is on time.
Baseball in the 21st century, man.
In any case, it makes perfect sense for him. And it has paid off since the Rangers called him back from Triple-A Round Rock 10 days ago and decided to commit to playing with him. With his two home runs in Houston – the first two of his career – White is 5 for 17 with four goals for a .294 / .429 / .765 / 1.193 OPS. Four of his five hits have gone for extra bases.
He has started five of the Rangers’ seven games since his recall, including four in a row. This is the first time in his brief career, which included 19 games in 2020 and the first five weeks of this season, that he has started up to four straight games.
There are good reasons to play it. Blanc will be 27 on June 26. He had 117 major league appearances before Thursday. He’s squarely in the group of guys the Rangers have to make long term decisions about. The Rangers recognized him when they freed Khris Davis to bring White back into the lineup.
Part of the problem was that the Rangers weren’t sure how or where to play him. They acquired White from Oakland as an infielder who dabbled in a bit of fieldwork. The Rangers, always in search of versatility, increased fieldwork among miners to the point that it became their primary position. It also put him in an overcrowded group. Ahead of him in 2020 were Nick Solak, who was prepared for fieldwork, Leody Taveras and Willie Calhoun. Yet at the end of the year, White established himself as perhaps the best midfield defensive option the Rangers had.
And so he was an outfielder.
But it also limited his opportunities. The Rangers entered 2021 with a plan to divide the central pitch between White and Taveras. White strikes were irregular. When he was sacked in May, the Rangers decided to shift gears again and add the infield to the mix. Of the 16 games he started at Round Rock, nine were in the infield. More importantly, however, he was in the lineup every day. It also allowed him some time to regroup as a hitter and force his brain to accept the change when he started his swing moves.
“Confidence plays a big role in that,” White said. “You just have to step into the box and know that you have confidence in yourself, that’s important. It was important to know that you can be successful, instead of trying not to fail. This had a lot to do with it. And playing regularly allowed me to get into a rhythm, just to be consistent with the timing issues. These two things have helped me a lot.
Acquired lifter: The Rangers picked another tough-throw reliever from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday, acquiring lead Dennis Santana in a trade for minor league left-hander Kelvin Bautista. Bautista, who turns 22 on July 7, attended Rangers extended training camp in Arizona.
Santana, 25, was opted for Triple-A Round Rock after being acquired. He had been nominated for assignment by the Dodgers over the weekend. He has had a 6.42 ERA on 32 relief outings over the past four seasons. The Rangers already have two former Dodgers in their box: rule 5 pick Brett de Geus and Josh Sborz, who has been nominated to be assigned by Los Angeles to make room for Trevor Bauer.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rangers have nominated southpaw Hyeon-jong Yang for assignment. Yang, 33, was selected for Round Rock on Wednesday when the Rangers activated IL’s Ian Kennedy. The hope is that Yang will clear the waivers and then go to Round Rock to work as a starter. Yang had a 5.59 ERA for the Rangers in eight games, but had been used infrequently since retiring from the starting rotation at the end of May.
Find more coverage of the Dallas Morning News Rangers here.