ARLINGTON -- A blistering line-drive home run off the bat of second baseman Rougned Odor was the big hit of the afternoon on Thursday, when right-hander Corey Kluber faced off against left-hander Mike Minor in the Rangers' intrasquad game at Globe Life Field.
Kluber appeared to be sharper of the two starters despite falling victim to Odor, who jumped on a cut fastball and ripped it over the right-field wall for a home run in the fourth inning.
“That ball was coming in pretty hard on him,” manager Chris Woodward said. “Little bit of top spin. For that ball to get out of the ballpark, that tells you how hard he hit it.”
Kluber comes out dealing
Kluber, in his second mound outing at Globe Life Field, dominated the opposition for six-plus innings and 80 pitches. He allowed two hits, did not walk a batter and struck out nine.
“He was definitely ahead of the hitters today,” Woodward said. “I felt it was his command, and the baseball was moving. The movement is really late. Honestly, I was thrilled to watch that. You see the reaction of a lot of our hitters. A lot of them had a really tough time against him.”
Kluber retired 11 of the first 12 hitters faced, striking out seven of them. The only other hit off him was a single by Robinson Chirinos.
Minor on outing, impending free agency
Minor summed up how he pitched on Thursday in two words.
Minor worked four innings and allowed three runs on four hits, with three walks and five strikeouts. The three walks came in the third inning. One of the hits was a home run by infielder Yadiel Rivera.
“I was trying to throw up in the zone and kept missing," Minor said. "The one inning I had the three walks, they were close pitches. But I felt I should have been more around the zone today. Breaking stuff wasn’t as good. I made some good pitches, but it wasn’t as crisp as I would have liked.”
Minor will have two more outings before his first start of the season, scheduled for July 25 against the Rockies at Globe Life Field.
There is also the matter of his impending free agency. The possibility of an extension being discussed during Spring Training disappeared with the shutdown, and it doesn’t appear likely to be revived at this point with all the uncertainty surrounding the game.
“I just haven’t gotten there at this point,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “We’ve had some preliminary discussions internally but haven’t gotten to a point where we are really ready to discuss it. Mike has been great for us. I expect him to continue to be a big part of the club. I hope that’s beyond this year.”
Minor, whose wife, Kristen, gave birth to their third daughter during the shutdown, has enough to think about without getting too caught up in his contract situation.
“I really don’t care, it’s nothing I can control,” Minor said. “I’m just going [to go] out there and do my thing for my team and try to win a World Series, then see what happens in the offseason.”
Odor picking up
Odor finished last season strong, and the Rangers were eager to see him carry that over this year. He did so in Arizona, going 11-for-31 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 12 Cactus League games. Now he is off to a 6-for-12 start in Summer Camp with a double, two home runs and two walks over six simulated and intrasquad games
“I’m ready to go,” Odor said. “I don’t want to take a day off. As soon as we start the season, I want to be ready to go. I can’t wait until the season starts.”
Odor finished last season hitting .263 with nine home runs and 26 RBIs in his last 26 games. During that stretch he had 10 walks to go with a .340 on-base percentage and a .632 slugging percentage.
The Rangers also know that Odor hit .161/.231/.329 through the first two months. A stretch like that could be disastrous for him and the Rangers this time around. It’s more likely Woodward would sit him before letting a slump get that far.
“I don't like to talk about myself,” Odor said, “but I'm just going to tell you this: I feel really good at the plate, and I feel like what I was doing at the end of last year, I've brought into this year.”