The Texas Rangers will give Gold Glove-winning third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa the opportunity to be their starting shortstop next season and have told Elvis Andrus to prepare to play all infield positions.
Andrus, at 32 the longest-tenured Ranger after 12 seasons, is the only player remaining from their back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011.
Manager Chris Woodward said Tuesday that the Rangers wanted to give both Kiner-Falefa and Andrus clarity on the plans so they would know how to approach their offseason workouts.
“This wasn’t an easy decision based on what Elvis has done for the organization. We’ve had many discussions about this. But I think it comes down to, do we believe in Kiner as a shortstop? I want to see it. I want to answer that question,” Woodward said. “Can he handle the position? I believe he can.”
Woodward said Kiner-Falefa still had to earn the starting spot at shortstop, and has told Andrus he would have the opportunity to “prove us wrong.”
Andrus played only 29 games last season because of lingering back issues and hit only .194 with three homers and seven RBI. He is owed $28.5 million over the next two seasons.
The 25-year-old Kiner-Falefa started 15 games at short, and made 42 starts at third base after earning that spot with his performance in camp before the pandemic-delayed and reduced schedule. The Rangers had signed veteran third baseman Todd Frazier last offseason, but he ended up splitting time between third and first base before getting traded at the deadline.
Kiner-Falefa hit .280 in his third big league season. The Rangers had even used him as a catcher his first two seasons as a way to get him in the lineup.
“He’s a natural shortstop. He’s always been a plus defender,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “He’s taken a step forward with the bat, and I think as we look at not just this year but the next few years, you’ve obviously got a pretty unique free agent class a year from now, and I think as we look forward we want to make sure we’ve answered some of the big questions we might have not just now but in future offseasons and future times of potential acquisitions.”
Second baseman Rougned Odor, at 26 and also signed for two more seasons, will also have to compete to keep his starting job. He led Texas with 30 RBI in 38 games and matched Joey Gallo with a team-best 10 homers, but hit only .167. Seven of his 11 hits in September were homers, and he struck out 47 times in 138 at-bats.
Nick Solak led all MLB rookies with 56 hits while primarily playing in the outfield. But his best position is second base, where he had 16 starts.
“He has to prove that he can handle the second base position defensively. That is probably the most important piece of this,” Woodward said. “Let’s focus on second base to see how good of a second baseman he can possibly be. I think we’ll see a better version of him.”
Chicago Cubs’ Zach Davies, three relievers combine for MLB’s 7th no-hitter
It’s the seventh no-hitter in baseball this season, the most ever before July 1.
Zach Davies pitched the first six innings on Thursday without giving up a hit, but he was pulled for a pinch hitter in the top of the seventh inning after 94 pitches.
Righty Ryan Tepera pitched a clean seventh inning, and lefty Andrew Chafin did the same in the eighth. After walking the leadoff hitter in the ninth, closer Craig Kimbrel finished off the 17th no-hitter in Cubs’ history, striking out Cody Bellinger, Albert Pujols and pinch hitter Will Smith.
The Cubs walked eight batters, the most walks in a no-hitter since the Diamondbacks’ Edwin Jackson walked eight in a 149-pitch no-hitter against the Rays in 2010.
Davies went into the game with a 4.66 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. He walked five batters in the first four innings but stranded them all. He set the Dodgers down in order over his final two innings.
It’s the sixth time in the past 50 years a defending World Series champion has been no-hit. It’s the first time the Dodgers were no-hit since the Cubs did it to them in 2015 with Jake Arrieta on the mound. He starts against them on Friday.
Tampa Bay Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier ends combined no-hit bid after Boston Red Sox pull Nick Pivetta
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Kevin Kiermaier broke up a combined no-hit bid by the Boston Red Sox with a one-out double in the eighth inning and Manuel Margot scored on a wild pitch in the ninth to give the Tampa Bay Rays a 1-0 victory Thursday night.
Joey Wendle was intentionally walked, and Margot dashed home on Barnes’ wild pitch with Francisco Mejía batting.
Kiermaier lined his opposite-field double to left off Darwinzon Hernandez, the third Red Sox pitcher. The Gold Glove center fielder also threw out a runner at the plate in the seventh.
“It was a tied ballgame,” Kiermaier said. “We were just trying to stay the course and try and get something going.”
Boston starter Nick Pivetta was pulled with a runner on second and two outs in the seventh after throwing 100 pitches. His career high is 116.
“To be honest with you, it was the right call. It made the most sense,” said Pivetta, who wanted to stay in the game. “We’re all about winning.”
Pivetta finished with eight strikeouts, two walks and one hit batter. He joined Babe Ruth, on May 20, 1916, against the St. Louis Browns, as the only Red Sox pitchers to be removed with a no-hitter after six or more innings.
“It was amazing,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “He was into it.”
Boston was trying to throw the seventh no-hitter in the majors this season. That would have matched 1990, 1991, 2012 and 2015 for the most since 1900, one shy of the record eight in 1884 — the first season overhand pitching was allowed.
Despite a tough loss that dropped the Red Sox a half-game behind first-place Tampa Bay in the AL East, Cora saw a lot of positives.
“A lot of people, they didn’t believe in this team before the season,” he said. “I think the way we played against these guys tonight shows how good we are. We have a lot of work to do, we know that. We belong in the conversation, we really do.”
“It’s going to be a fun summer in Boston,” Cora added.
Tampa Bay starter Michael Wacha, who took a no-hitter into the fifth, allowed one hit and two walks in five innings. He had seven strikeouts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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