Yesterday the Rangers activated both Mike Napoli and Robbie Ross, two guys who were missed and are expected to help the Rangers clinch a playoff spot.
Jul 8, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers catcher Mike Napoli (25) at bat during the game against the Minnesota Twins at Rangers Ballpark. The Rangers beat the Twins 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE
Napoli did his part yesterday, mostly with a three-run homerun in their up-and-down loss to the Mariners yesterday. If he can continue to do that, the Rangers will be very happy to have another big bat in the lineup (especially when replacing Geovany Soto, who did well – especially defensively – but does not have the bat of Napoli). After Soto gets a few days of rest after being the every day catcher, I think you may even see Napoli at first base and Soto catching as the Rangers really seem to like what he brings defensively.
The other activation was Robbie Ross and this one was nice to see. The Rangers got great pitching from Martin Perez yesterday, and that really gave the team a chance to win. I believe we will see a lot more of Perez and he may very well be the second left hander on the playoff roster passing Michael Kirkman. Heck, depending how things play out the rest of the year, he may even pass Scott Feldman as a starting pitcher by the end of the regular season.
I was really impressed by Perez last night and having Ross back gives the Rangers a part of the five-headed bullpen monster back. I wrote in the past that I thought Ross was overworked in his first season as a reliever and the arm injury may or may not prove that. However, if the rest gave him his effectiveness back that is the best news that the Rangers could have. Having Ross as a long man or a middle man or a setup guy brings this bullpen a versatility that they have with Alexi Ogando already but from both sides of the mound. When matchups are all the more important in the playoffs, or with a slim two game division lead, that can be the difference.
The Ron Washington circle of trust got two players back from injury, and that could only mean good news for the Rangers because these two “new” additions could be exactly what this team had needed the last couple of weeks and as they go forward into a new fight with the consistently-surprising Oakland Athletics.