Willie Calhoun was hit in the jaw by a 95 MPH fastball from LA Dodgers Julio Urias in a Spring Training game yesterday.
The club announced that a CT scan revealed a fractured jaw and he will undergo further evaluation.
Calhoun has put in the work and was looking forward to a breakout season in 2020. He has had a string of bad luck while with the Rangers. In 2019 Calhoun had a good year after not making the team out of spring training. He had come to camp thinner and following a mandated program, only to be the victim of a numbers game when the season started.
Like Ronald Guzman this year, he had options and was demoted to AAA so that Hunter Pence could have a roster spot on the big club. Once he finally made it to Arlington he hit 21 HRs in 309 AB’s with a .848 OPS and .269 average. He was slated to be the opening day left fielder this season before being hit yesterday.
The injury now leaves the Rangers with questions.
What is the plan for filling in the void in left field? Let’s look at the options.
Solak is an infielder who has played outfield out of necessity to get his bat in the lineup. He has played some center field this spring. However, last week Chris Woodward said that Danny Santana would be getting most of the reps in CF going forward.
This relegated Solak back to the utility role with 2B and 3B being his primary position. Now he could see some work in left field or back in center. This way Santana could move over to left.
Choo is the primary DH but has played left field in his career. He is also 37 years old which is why he sees limited time in the outfield. Choo is a good outfielder, but his age will limit how much the Rangers want to keep him out in the field. His bat is why he is so valuable.
Garcia was picked up from the Cardinals this offseason in a trade for cash. He has had a good spring with a couple of HRs and batting .316.
His primary position is right field. Joey Gallo is athletic enough to make the move to left if Garcia were to hit his way into the lineup. But the Rangers see Gallo has an All-Star right fielder with his arm.
Heineman may be the best option in all of this. Probably the best outfielder of the list, he is hitting .360 with a .949 OPS this spring. He is also a natural center fielder which could push Santana or Solak over to left. Scott was impressive the week I was in Arizona.
He was already likely to make the team coming out of spring. Now his playing time will most likely be increased.
LONG SHOT: A couple of guys who could push their way onto the roster should things fall a certain way.
White was exposed to waivers this offseason after not being put on the 40 man roster. He was part of the Profar trade last offseason. White came up as a middle infielder in the Oakland organization.
This offseason the Rangers have told him he is no longer an infielder and to concentrate on center field. This spring he has been impressive. This spring he is hitting .438 with 2 HRs and a 1.375 OPS in 11 games. That’s hard to ignore. He is also said to be the fastest and most athletic guy on the team.
Maybe the longest shot of all. Taveras has been impressive this spring in the big league camp. He is on the 40 man roster. He is the best true center fielder on the team.
The Rangers, however, would like to see him get some more minor league AB’s this season. So unless this injury lingers and he starts off hot in Frisco, Taveras will most likely spend most of the season in AA or AAA.
The injury to Willie Calhoun is sad on so many levels to anyone who has watched him these last to years. A guy does what is asked and then he falls on bad luck right before he is set to show off his skills. Here is to hoping that he isn’t out for too long.
In the meantime, there are some intriguing options to fill the void.
Featured Image: Willie Calhoun/Getty Images