When asked Thursday what Rougned Odor thought of the season he has had, he answered the question with a question.
“What do you think?” the Texas Rangers second baseman said.
“Kind of like last year, but my average was not that good this year,” Odor continued. “I just need to keep working hard to get better.”
Next season, he pledged, will be better.
“Oh, yes,” Odor said. “One hundred percent.”
This season, as far as the regulars are concerned, is over. There are still three games to go after the opener Thursday of the season-ending four-game series against the Oakland A’s.
Odor will play in all of them, even though he might not start all of them. That was the case Thursday, when he was to come off the bench to pinch hit and keep alive his quest to play in all 162 games this season.
That’s a fine accomplishment, especially for a player who could finish with the worst qualifying average in the majors. In more than 150 games, Odor could never snap himself out of his funk.
All he can do is say that next season is going to be better with a better approach in which he swings at his pitch instead of swinging at every pitch.
“We’ll just have to see some work in the off-season in my approach and my routines, and just get ready for the next season,” Odor said. “Maybe see my pitch.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean take more walks, which Odor has done in relative droves of late (eight of career-high 32 walks in past five games), or strike out less, which Odor has done in droves all season (158).
Odor wants to make more contact than he has during a season in which he is batting .203, albeit with 30 home runs in his age-23 season. He can do that by zeroing in on the pitches he can handle.
“I don’t really care about the strikeouts and the walks,” said Odor, who is only the second left-handed hitter in club history with consecutive 30-homer seasons (Rafael Palmeiro).
“I just go up there to hit. I’m not thinking about walks. I don’t think about strikeouts. Obviously, if they don’t throw me anything to hit, I’m going to take the walk. But I just go there to hit, and that’s what I like to do.”
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The Rangers’ confidence in Odor remains high, if for no other reason than he can’t do much worse in 2018. He will have an off-season to gather his thoughts and see if he can be more selective at the plate, and he will be a year removed from signing his six-year, $49.5 million contract.
Odor continues to say that he hasn’t felt any pressure to live up to the contract.
“I’m playing like I always played,” he said.
Baseball commissioner Ron Manfred said on Thursday during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Texas Rangers' new ballpark, Globe Life Field, that he hopes to see an All-Star Game and/or World Baseball Classic in Arlington (video by Jeff Wilson).Jeff Wilson firstname.lastname@example.org
Teammate, friend an fellow Venezuelan Elvis Andrus isn’t so sure the contract didn’t weigh on Odor some, just as the deal Andrus signed in 2013 weighed on him.
“I think that I said the same when I signed mine,” Andrus said. “That’s part of the pride we have as a player. I didn’t want to put that out there as an excuse.”
The key takeaway from Odor’s season, Andrus said, is that he knows what he must improve over the off-season. Just as Odor insists that the contract hasn’t been a factor, Andrus insists that the season hasn’t been a complete loss.
“After a month or a couple weeks, everything will flush out and he will start working again and everything will be back to normal,” Andrus said. “He knows what adjustment he needs to do, and if he does it, he’ll be back next year.
“Even for everything that’s happened, he still hit 30 homers with over 70 RBIs. I don’t think those are bad numbers for anyone, but he’s still got a lot of things he needs to get better. He’s still young. What is he, 23? I wish at 23 I was hitting 30 bombs.”
Rangers vs. Athletics
7:05 p.m. Friday, FSSW