After a lengthy delay caused by technical difficulties, the virtual Rangers were back on the field this week wrapping up an up-and-down month of June.
Texas started out the month with eight-straight losses and lost 11-of-13. The front office decided a changce was needed and started to retool the team. The players responded, winning nine of their next 13 games and finished the month on a four-game winning streak.
While it is not likely the Rangers can make up the 15.5 game deficit in the American League West, there is hope around the team that they can build up the strong finish in June and use that to spring board them to a playoff contention next season.
As always, there were many notable performances and transactions from the month. Those are highlighted below.
- The Rangers decided to give up on former Cy Young winner Ron Guidry and placed him on waivers June 2. Guidry cleared waivers and the Rangers designated him for assignment on June 7. Guidry immediately refused the demotion and the team held on to the veteran for the maximum allowed 10 days before granting him his release on June 17. The very next day, Guidry re-signed with the Yankees and accepted a spot on their AAA Columbus staff.
- On June 12, the Rangers dealt enigmatic reliever Ricky Wright to Baltimore, re-acquiring the team's second all-time leader in wins, Charlie Hough. The following day, the team placed disgruntled infielder Bill Almon on waivers and was later claimed by Minnesota. The same day, Casey Candaele was re-called from AAA Oklahoma City and has taken over as the team's starting second baseman.
- Texas suffered a huge setback on June 16 as staff ace Frank Tanana ruptured a tendon in his finger and was placed on the 60-day disabled list ending his season. Jose Guzman was re-called from Oklahoma City to fill Tanana's spot in the rotation.
- June 19 saw the Rangers give up on uber talent Bo Jackson, presumably for the season, as he was optioned to Oklahoma City and replaced by Ty Gainey.
- The roster shake up continued on June 20 as the Rangers dealt second baseman Tony Bernazard to Pittsburgh in exchange for starting pitcher Rick Reuschel and minor league pitcher Mitch Williams. Reuschel, 38, is a free agent after the season is likely just going to be an innings eater to preserve a young pitching staff.
- More movement followed on June 21 as the Rangers shipped the team's second leading run producer over the past 3.5 seasons, Gary Ward, to Guidry's Yankees in exchange for veteran left fielder Brain Harper and minor league pitcher Willie Fraser. The move makes the Rangers younger and more versatile while also saving them about $250,000.
- On June 28 the Rangers were dealt another devastating blow as the team's most consistent starter, Mike Mason, suffered a partially torn labrum, ending his season. The team put Mason on the 60-day DL and called up top relief prospect Bobby Thigpen from Oklahoma City.
- Center fielder Oddibe McDowell had another one of his scorching months, leading the team with a .420 batting average, .491 on-base percentage and .660 slugging pct. while finishing second on the team in runs scored (15) and RBI (21) for the month.
- Fred Lynn finally got hot and led the team in home runs (9) and RBI (24) for the month while hitting .302. Lynn now has 20 home runs on the season, his sixth-straight year with at least 20.
- Steve Buechele hit well (.286) and got on base (.353 OBP) but has yet to find his power stroke from last year when he hit 26 home runs and drove in 75 RBI. Buechele has just six home runs and 18 RBI on the season.
- First baseman Pete O'Brien is having a disastrous year after making his first all-star appearance in '86. O'Brien is hitting just .257 with four homer runs and 19 RBI on the season after hitting .291-31-102 last season.
- Catcher Geno Petralli is also having a career-worst year. The career .288 hitter is hitting only .249 (.205 in June) and has been losing at bats to Andy Allanson (.308 in June).
- Second-year Shortstop Barry Larkin is also struggling as he hit only .211 in June, dropping his season average to .235.
- Long-time third baseman Buddy Bell is all but out-the-door after hitting only .148 in June. The franchise's all-time leader in hits has been on the trading block with little interest and he could be released before the end of July.
- Rookie pitcher Jeff Ballard rebounded from a tough May (0-1 5.14 ERA) to be one of the team's most effective pitchers in June (1-0 1.53).
- Fellow rookie David Wells was one of the most consistent relievers during the month as he posted 2.82 ERA in 12 appearances.
- Jeff Russell continues to be an ace in the making as he posted a 3-2 record and 2.92 ERA in five starts. Russell is currently tied for fifth in the American League with nine wins.
- Closer Dave Smith hasn't had the save opportunities he envisioned when signing with the Rangers in the off-season and has struggled with the inactivity. Smith is 3-4 with 12 saves and a 4.09 ERA this season after posting 41 saves and a 3.19 ERA for the world champion Giants last season.
The month of July for the Rangers will see the team head to New York to face Ward and the Yankees for four games to start the month before the Yankees come to Arlington for four games in the middle of the month. Aside from the first game of the month, finishing up a three-game series with Seattle, all of the Rangers games in July will be against the AL East, including six with the first place Blue Jays and three with the second place Brewers.
Stay tuned to Rangers Report as we provide the most in-dpeth, wire-to-wire look at the Texas Rangers season.