Posted on August 24, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
After the briefest of stints in the minors, Carlos Gomez is scheduled to join the Texas Rangers on Thursday. The Rangers signed Gomez to a minor league contract over the weekend after he was released by the Houston Astros. Gomez has played in just three minor league games for the Rangers triple-A affiliate, but the team feels that’s all he needs to be ready to step into the Texas lineup on Thursday when the Rangers begin a four-game series with the Cleveland Indians.
“Three solid days of at-bats and a travel day, possibly be ready,” said Texas manager Jeff Banister after Gomez signed with Texas. “We’ll take all indications, how he looks, how he feels, how his legs are.” Gomez played those three games on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, going 4 for 13 with a double and triple. He also struck out five times and drove in two runs.
“The first night, he was a little rusty, two strikeouts early and later found his rhythm,” explained Banister. “[Monday] night he really drove the baseball. Last night the at-bats were a lot calmer, he’s staying on the baseball and using his hands. Playing the outfield is fine. Very positive.”
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The move to sign Gomez and bring him up carries little risk for the Rangers, who have are taking a chance on him in large part because of a season-ending injury to Shin-Soo Choo. The plan is for Gomez to play every day in a corner outfield spot. “We’ll get him out there and let him play,” Banister said. “This is a veteran outfielder who, when he is out there, can impact the game. This is not a young guy who has to get by with youthful exuberance. He’s got exuberance, but he is in the middle part of his career. This is a guy who can take over a game.”
With Ian Desmond entrenched in center field, Gomez will play a corner position despite playing center field for a majority of his career. The other corner outfield spot will be a platoon of Delino DeShields Jr. and Nomar Mazara, with Gomez likely switching back and forth to accommodate DeShields in left field and Mazara in right field. “Mazara versus right-handers has been a good player for us, and DeShields against left-handers has been a good player for us,” explained Banister.
Of course, after hitting .210 with a .594 OPS with the Astros this season, the Rangers shouldn’t expect Gomez to suddenly be a completely different player. However, the team does have high hopes for him. “I love the energy he plays with, I love the skill set, I love the two-way player,” Banister said. “He can impact the game in multiple ways. Drop him in our lineup with the veteran core around him, and he has a chance to resurrect himself.”
Whether Gomez can make an impact for the Rangers down the stretch remains to be seen, but it’s a move that won’t hurt Texas if it doesn’t work out. The Rangers have a comfortable lead atop the AL West, so they are poised to win the division with or without him. However, if Gomez can get things turned around, he could become a factor in the American League playoffs. We’ll find out starting Thursday.