The Dallas Morning News

Willie Calhoun set for return to roster.

Playing time in field could be sparse for now, Woodward says

- By SAM BLUM Staff Writer sam.blum@dallasnews.com

ARLINGTON — The last time Willie Calhoun was a healthy everyday player, he was a budding star. Someone that seemed to be carving out a place as a player the Rangers could build around. When he’s likely activated Saturday for the first time this season, he’ll be coming back to a different situation.

“As far as the playing time goes, I don’t think it’s an every single day [situation],” manager Chris Woodward said on Friday. “We have other guys that have earned the right, that are playing well. I’m not going to take Adolis Garcia out of the lineup if he keeps doing what he’s doing. He’s going to have to earn it. Willie is a guy that I fully believe in, especially from the offensive side.”

Calhoun was traveling from the alternate training site on Friday to be available on Saturday for Texas. LHP Joely Rodriguez, who has been out rehabbing from an ankle injury, was activated on Friday before the game and the team optioned righty Josh Sborz. Additional­ly, infielder Brock Holt (hamstring) is eligible to be activated on Saturday.

The Rangers are currently going with 14 pitchers and 12 position players on the roster. Woodward said he it’s likely the team will switch that up following these activation­s and have an even 13-13 split. That would mean two pitchers, likely relievers, would be optioned. That would also spare an outfielder like Leody Taveras, who has struggled with the bat so far this season, hitting just .103.

The most likely swap when Holt is called up would be Anderson Tejeda, who is 1-for-16 with 10 strikeouts this season.

But the biggest addition to the roster will be Calhoun, who hit 21 home runs in 83 games in 2019, but had just one in an injuryplag­ued 2020 season. But that 2020 season can’t just be erased, and the left field position is currently being manned by a mixture of David Dahl and Eli White — both of whom are superior defensive players.

“Just based on the defenders that we have — we have some pretty elite defenders to put out in the outfield right now,” Woodward said. “Between Adolis, Eli, Taveras, Joey [Gallo], Dahl. Those guys are really good. I would assume it would probably be a DH at this point. Not to say he won’t play outfield. But I would say at the beginning, probably more DH.”

Calhoun, 26, was hit in the jaw with a fastball in spring training last year. He then suffered a hamstring injury in August. He’s been out thus far this season with a left groin strain.

Sborz had been effective over his last four appearance­s, allowing one run in 32⁄3 innings. But he had a 7.20 ERA over six appearance­s on the season.

With many of the Rangers relievers being young, there’s a good chance that an additional reliever could be optioned, if the Rangers go that route on Saturday. That said, John King and Kyle Cody have been effective and used in high-leverage situations. Brett de Geus is a rule-five pick, and couldn’t be optioned without being offered back to the Dodgers. Seldom-used Kolby Allard might be optioned.

Allard did give the Rangers something to think about. He pitched three perfect innings on Friday, striking out five.

“He’s forcing our hand,” Woodward said. “[He has] command of the baseball. Attacking the strike zone. Used his curveball.”

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 ?? Smiley N. Pool/staff Photograph­er ?? Rangers catcher Jose Trevino can’t make a sliding catch on a foul ball off the bat of Baltimore Orioles left fielder DJ Stewart during the first inning at Globe Life Field on Friday.
Smiley N. Pool/staff Photograph­er Rangers catcher Jose Trevino can’t make a sliding catch on a foul ball off the bat of Baltimore Orioles left fielder DJ Stewart during the first inning at Globe Life Field on Friday.

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