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Author: Subject: Stevens decided to play it safe
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posted on 8-10-2018 at 02:30 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Stevens decided to play it safe

Isiah Kiner-Falefa was only five games into his first Triple-A season when he got called up by the Texas Rangers in early April. A few days later Rick Leonard Color Rush Jersey , Ronald Guzman got promoted and also made his big-league debut.

When Texas reached the midpoint of the regular season this week, the 23-year-old rookies were among eight position players on the roster who are 25 or younger.

While the Rangers were on a 70-win pace after a loss in the 81st of their 162 games, they’ve had a recent uptick. They have won nine of their last 11 games while claiming four consecutive series in a stretch when veteran stalwarts Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus were finally back in the lineup together.

In the 82nd game Wednesday night, when the Rangers (36-46) started the second half of their schedule before an off day Thursday, lefty Mike Minor took a perfect game into the seventh of a 5-2 victory over San Diego. Keone Kela, the hard-throwing 25-year-old closer, got his 20th save – the most in the majors without a blown chance and a club record to start a season.

”When you take all the individual parts of the first half and you look and evaluate players of where they’re trending, they’re trending in the right direction athletically as well as mentally of how they play the baseball game,” fourth-year manager Jeff Banister said. ”We’ve gained some knowledge, and some guys have proven to themselves that they can play at this level and where they’re at and what they need to work on.”

General manager Jon Daniels has said publicly several times that the team’s priority this season is the development of its young players.

Young sluggers Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo were already regulars in the lineup before this season Chris Iannetta Colorado Rockies Jersey , along with second baseman Rougned Odor. Speedy center fielder Delino DeShields has been a constant since returning from a broken bone in his left hand, an injury that occurred the first weekend of the season.

”Our coaches, they’ve put that development hat on,” Banister said. ”You watch them every day on the field, different players working on different things that we feel like they’re going to help these players out for the longer term, for the bigger picture.”

Kiner-Falefa was called up when Odor, the 23-year-old already in his fourth season with Texas, went on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain. Andrus, the shortstop in his 10th season at age 29, suffered a broken elbow when hit by a pitch just a couple of days later. Beltre had more hamstring issues.

”Everything happened so quick Cody Latimer Color Rush Jersey ,” said Kiner-Falefa, who has two starts at catcher after previous starts at second base, third base and shortstop. ”I’m trying to soak it all in. … It’s been a cool experience. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from everyone here, and all the veterans.”

Guzman has 51 starts at first base, though he is on the seven-day concussion disabled list. The Rangers were batting when Guzman slammed his head into a knee on an attempted pickoff Monday.

Profar was 19 when he homered in his first big league at-bat in 2012, but he missed all of the 2014 and 2015 seasons because of right shoulder issues. He split each of the last two seasons between the Rangers and Triple-A Round Rock, but has started at all four infield positions this year in his most consistent action in the majors.

”I’ve got a really good chance to experience the big leagues, a lot of things that you want to work to be consistent on,” Profar said. ”We have very good young players here, we’re all learning. It’s going to be good for us going down the road.”



Dirk Nowitzki plans to become the first player to spend all 21 seasons with the same NBA franchise.

Dennis Smith Jr. will be half the German star’s age when the Dallas Mavericks open next season looking to end the first two-year playoff drought in nearly two decades. The team posted its worst record since 1997-98 Sebastian Janikowski Color Rush Jersey , the year before Nowitzki arrived.

The No. 9 overall pick who turned 20 early in what ended up as a solid rookie season, Smith figures to have a new teammate facing high expectations the way he did. Dallas will pick no lower than seventh in June.

Smith will have at least one thing in common with Nowitzki, who turns 40 this summer. They want the Mavericks to be regulars in the postseason again, the way they were before the current swoon.

”I’ve been in a couple of arenas that are playoff teams, and I just witnessed the atmosphere,” Smith said. ”I can only imagine how it is playoff time.”

It’s certainly better than 24-58, tied with Atlanta for the league’s third-worst record. Youth, injuries and a difficult schedule buried the Mavericks early for the second straight year.

They spent the last half of the season wondering where they would fall in the lottery, and owner Mark Cuban was fined $600,000 for suggesting that Dallas had been tanking for two seasons. Part of Cuban’s point was that he’d had enough of that approach.

”We do not want to go back to what we just experienced Saquon Barkley Color Rush Jersey ,” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. ”That’s unanimous, from the top on down. When you go through retooling or rebuilding situations like we’re going through now, it’s done with the right people.”

For Nelson, two of those three people are in place in Smith and leading scorer Harrison Barnes. The third is coming in the draft. Nelson compared the situation to when he joined his dad, former coach and general manager Don Nelson, in Dallas 20 years ago. Michael Finley was already there. Steve Nash and Nowitzki were on the way.

The Mavericks made the playoffs 15 out of 16 years starting in 2001, winning their first championship in 2011. They haven’t won a playoff series since.

”We’re certainly hoping that we’re not in the early stages of a rebuild,” coach Rick Carlisle said. ”We want to get through this as expeditiously as possible. But there’s no way you can skip steps.”

Things to consider after the first 50-loss season for Dallas since the last of seven in an eight-season stretch in the 1990s:

DIRK FOR 22?

Surgery for bone spurs in his left ankle ended Nowitzki’s season a few games early, but after he had set a record for games in a 20th season with 77. He has had a season-to-season approach for several years now.

”I’m hoping the ankle will be tons better than this year,” said Nowitzki Kyle Freeland Colorado Rockies Jersey , who figures to pass Wilt Chamberlain on the career scoring list but get passed by LeBron James to leave him where he is now – sixth place. ”It’s hard for me at this point to commit further than one year or say one year’s it.”

SMITH’S BACKUPS

J.J. Barea has a year left on his contract after averaging career highs of 11.6 points and 6.3 assists per game. Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry have expiring contracts, but the Mavericks figure to be interested. Ferrell proved to be a solid role player on a two-year deal earned after a flashy start on a 10-day contract last season. Dallas had high hopes for Curry, but the younger brother of Golden State star Stephen Curry missed the season with a stress fracture in his lower left leg.

MORE FIREPOWER

The Dallas roster was loaded with undrafted and/or G League players, and Carlisle has been praised for the development of some of those younger players. Now it’s time to replace projects with weapons.

”Getting Rick ammunition is our No. 1 priority in the offseason,” Nelson said. ”We’ve got a great opportunity in the draft. Free agency as you know will be extremely active. There’s trade fronts obviously that will be probed as well.”

THE LAST OF NOEL

There was no mention of center Nerlens Noel on the final day of interviews. Suspended the final five games for violating the NBA’s anti-drug program, Noel never developed into the post player Dallas envisioned after getting him at the trading deadline last season. After a lost season on a one-year deal as a restricted free agent, he hits the open market with little or no value.

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